Without a doubt, the most frustrating thing to prepare in our bakery is coconut whipped cream. You do everything right, and yet you’re staring down into a bowl of goop with a naked cake waiting impatiently on the table to be iced. After one too many restless nights worrying about whether the coconut cream would set, we figured out some workarounds to add stability and guarantee perfect coconut whipped cream, every single time.
First, be sure your coconut milk is left untouched in the coldest part of your fridge (but above 40°F to avoid freezing) at least overnight. (As long as possible is even better. Right after we come home from the market, the can of coconut milk goes straight into the fridge and lives there until we need to use it.) This gives the thick, white cream a chance to rise to the top and settle, making it easy to separate the cream from the clear, liquid coconut water. Second, whip still-solid coconut cream until completely smooth, but no further. This sounds counterintuitive, but if you overwhip the coconut cream, it will soften and become liquid. Once it’s whipped to soft or stiff peaks, you can use it as is, or pop it in the fridge overnight for a super-stable cream to fill cakes.
Remove the solid coconut cream that has risen to the top of the can, and spoon it into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the coconut cream on high speed until it begins to thicken and peaks form. The remaining coconut water can be added, a teaspoon at a time, if the whipped cream is too thick. Otherwise, discard it.
Using a rubber spatula, slowly fold in the maple syrup and vanilla. Transfer the whipped cream to a metal or glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
NOTES: For filling cakes, we like to chill the coconut whipped cream in the fridge overnight, covered. This will stiffen the cream and make it stronger for holding layers of cake together. However, it becomes more difficult to style the cream on top of the cake, so we tend to do this only for the filling between cake layers.
The brand of coconut milk you purchase is not the only thing that can affect the final outcome. If coconut milk has accidentally been frozen or overheated, it can struggle to separate properly. For this reason, we recommend your not ordering coconut milk online, but buying it from a store familiar with storing the product properly, like Whole Foods.
Recipe courtesy of the Sweet Laurel cookbook, by Laurel Callucci and Claire Thomas (Clarkson Potter, 2018). This incredible grain-free cookbook by the founders of Sweet Laurel whole foods baking company is chock full of recipes that use just a few high-quality, whole ingredients to create decadent desserts that benefit your body. All of the recipes are Paleo and the book includes vegan and raw options, too. Indulge guilt free this holiday season with these gorgeous treats.
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