Tips & Tricks

7 Surprising Ways to Use Coconut Milk

Like coconut water and oil, coconut milk has also grabbed the culinary spotlight. Canned coconut milk comes from grated coconut flesh that’s soaked in water, blended, and strained.

Like coconut water and oil, coconut milk has also grabbed the culinary spotlight. Canned coconut milk comes from grated coconut flesh that’s soaked in water, blended, and strained. The result: a rich, subtly sweet, creamy milk that most people recognize best from curry. But don’t stop with a bowl of massaman: Canned coconut milk is incredibly versatile, lending its silky texture to anything from oatmeal and soups to an amazing whipped cream. Here, seven ways to start using it.

Oatmeal
Give your breakfast a tropical twist—and a dose of healthy fat—by substituting canned coconut milk for any liquid you’d normally use when cooking oats, whether water or cow’s milk. You’ll find your coconut-cooked oats have never tasted so rich and sweet. Top them with pomegranate seeds, pineapple, kiwi slices, and toasted coconut flakes.

“Cream” Soup
Who needs heavy cream for cream soup when you have coconut milk? When simmered with flavorful ingredients like lemongrass, cilantro, and chile peppers, coconut milk becomes a warming soup. You can also sub in coconut milk for most “cream of” vegetable soups and even creamed spinach.

Dulce De Leche
This thick caramel fills and tops all kinds of Latin American sweets. When traditionally making it, you caramelize a can of sweetened condensed milk on the stove. The only room for improvement? Substitute 2 cans coconut milk and 1½ cups brown sugar. Stir together the ingredients in a pan until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by about half and is luxuriously thick. Spoon over ice cream, spread it on a piece of toast, or eat it right from the jar. (It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)

Whipped Cream
All the rage in vegan and paleo circles, a chilled and drained can of coconut milk can become a bowl of luxuriously whipped cream—no other ingredients needed. To make this miracle happen, refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight, which causes the milk’s fat to separate and solidify. Before you open the can the next day, turn it upside down—that way the liquid portion will be on top. Drain the liquid (it’s delicious blended in a smoothie), then scoop the coconut solids into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the solids until they lighten into the consistency of whipped cream. Add a pinch of sugar or splash of vanilla extract if you like. Store the coconut whipped cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use on pie, cake, and sundaes. You can even stir it into your morning cup of coffee.

Frosting
Similar to coconut milk whipped cream, this vegan frosting gets its silky consistency from powdered sugar. To make enough to frost a double-layer cake, whip the coconut cream from three cans of coconut milk with ¾ cup powdered sugar. Spread on a vanilla, chocolate, carrot, or pumpkin cake.

Serious Eats)

Ice Cream
Unlike almond, rice, or soy milk, coconut milk packs enough fat to make a dairy-free ice cream that retains the luscious mouthfeel of a quality you expect from a traditional frozen desserts. Simply follow any homemade ice cream recipe and substitute coconut milk for whole milk, one to one.

Syrup
In Thailand, coconut milk morphs into an irresistible syrup traditionally used to top sticky rice with mango, a popular dessert. To make the sauce, warm 1/3 cup coconut milk with 3 tablespoons sugar over low heat until thickened and reduced to a consistency similar to maple syrup. Pour over sorbet (we recommend mango or raspberry) or caramel ice cream for an insanely delicious dessert.

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