Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dairy-free whipped filling: go crazy with a can of coconut milk

I've seen a lot of posts on the internet showing how to make a substitute for whipped cream using coconut cream - that is, the thick gloop which likes to rise to the top of a can of coconut milk. Several have even been so kind as to give recommendations for brands worth buying for it - top of their list for greatest cream-to-water ratio: Trader Joe's. I'd like to add Golden Star to that preferred list. I opened up two still, well-chilled cans to find less than an inch of liquid at the bottom of each can. All the rest was rich, thick, chilled-buttery solids. Of this I approve. Most others are just about half cream, or even less. That's fine for some things like curries and soups, but not when you want to get whippy with it.

And I do like getting whippy with it.

For just regular, immediate serving, you can use the coconut cream plain, with just a little vanilla and a hint of your preferred sweetener (I used some agave syrup, most recently). In essence, all you want to to is give it a lift, so you need no more than about a half-teaspoon to a teaspoon of sweetener and a half-teaspoon of vanilla per cup of coconut cream (unless you're a sugar addict, in which case, dump in as much sweetness as you like. It's all a matter of taste).

But if you let it stand – in or out of the refrigerator – for more than a couple of hours, it begins to liquefy – or, at the very least, go too soft – once more. I needed it to hold its shape overnight, in the middle of a buche de noël, so it took some figuring. My solution: gelatin. Unflavored gelatin. One teaspoon of dry gelatin, added to a quarter cup of the coconut water I separated from the coconut cream… It went like this:

Take one can of good, high-quality coconut milk, allow to stand without shaking for at least a couple of days, then refrigerate overnight.

Open the can carefully (again, don't shake it), and very carefully scoop out the great dense globs of the cream on the top of the can.

Pour 1/4 cup of the remaining liquid into a small dish to set into a pan of cool water, or the top of a small double-boiler under which the heat is off.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin onto the top of the liquid and allow to stand about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn on the heat and add the coconut cream. Allow to melt and bring to simmer, but be careful not to boil.

Remove from heat, refrigerate until completely chilled (at least 2 hours).

Put in bowl for a stand mixer, whip up until light and fluffy. Add sweetener and any flavorings you like, whip a little more. Overbeating this does not do the same damage that overbeating dairy cream does (unless you don't think of having butter instead of whipped cream as damage). Chill the heck out of it, then serve or add to recipe.

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