The Long-Lasting, Vegan, 1-Ingredient, Keto-Friendly(?!) Whipped Cream 

Coconut does it again.
coconut whipped cream
Photograph by Isa Zapata.  Food Styling by Cyd McDowell

As an erstwhile dairy lover who has recently entered the dairy-free world, I can tell you that some dupes are better than others: The “sour cream” isn’t fooling anyone, but the shredded “mozzarella”? I would—and do—eat it by the handful. 

And one of the very best dairy imitators of all requires no nuts and no heavy processing: It’s coconut whipped cream and you can make it with one can and a bit of arm strength. Chill a can of coconut cream (or milk), skim off the creamy white layer, discarding the watery remains, then whip the fatty part by hand or with a mixer, add sugar and vanilla if you like, and that’s that.

Before you rush to the kitchen to crack open your can of coconut cream, consider these keys to success. Begin by choosing a high-quality coconut product—some will whip up whiter, while others will take on a grey hue. Christian Reynoso, who serves coconut whipped cream with his Tropical Babas, likes Let's Do Organic; vegan cookbook author Gena Hamshaw usually turns to Native Forest. You can use either coconut milk or coconut cream, but Reynoso and Hamshaw both go with cream—since you’ll be getting rid of all of the watery stuff anyway, cream generates less waste.

Whatever you choose, chill it thoroughly to encourage the separation of fat and water and promote easy whipping. Hamshaw recommends chilling the can for two full days, though Reynoso takes a shortcut and sticks the can in the freezer for 30 minutes. Set a timer, though—if you leave it in the freezer too long, it will become too solid to manipulate.

Follow all of these guidelines and you’ll get a glossy, voluptuous mass—thicker than real whipped cream, and with more body and weight—that holds its shape beautifully and makes a logical accompaniment to pie, ice cream (dairy-free or not), and cakes. When I tell you that I enjoyed a hefty dollop of unsweetened coconut whip on a slice of a very rich dairy-free chocolate tart, I am NOT—I repeat NOT—lying.

But coconut whipped cream isn’t simply a stand-in for dairy-ful whipped cream—it also has distinct advantages. First, it’s nearly impossible to overwhip—you won’t get to the same weird buttery place you would if you took heavy cream too far. “I’m no coconut cream scientist,” admits Reynoso, “but it seems like coconut cream can’t be overwhipped. It only whips to soft or medium-soft peaks.”

Second, coconut whipped cream tastes, well, distinctly coconutty. Whereas whipped cream is a bland, milky-rich backdrop, coconut whipped cream is bold, adding an element of flavor that makes plain or simple desserts—like a pile of fresh berries, a slice of unadorned pound cake, or a tender biscuit—feel special and complex.

And, finally, coconut whipped cream won’t weep (a.k.a. exude moisture) over time, which means you can store it in the fridge for several days. Re-whisk it before serving to breathe in new life, then use it on more desserts or to make your morning coffee or afternoon snack luxurious. “When I have any whipped coconut cream around,” recommends Reynoso, “I’ll add it to iced or hot coffee. I dip bananas and whatever fruit I have in it, too.”

It’s probably not socially acceptable to dip a piece of fruit into whipped cream in the middle of the day. But dip a banana into coconut whipped cream? That’s basically a healthy snack.

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Coconut Whipped Cream Is the LongLasting Vegan 1Ingredient KetoFriendly Whipped Cream Alternative

Tropical Babas With Whipped Coconut Cream

We took the classic yeasted French dessert cakes known as babas on a tropical vacation with a boozy pineapple-rum sauce and pillowy whipped coconut cream.
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