When it comes to getting the most out of a food, coconuts must be at the top of the list for most versatile. It’s possible to use pretty much every part of this tropical fruit that is not only delicious but good for us. If you thought coconut was just a topping to roll truffles in, think again. We can make desserts using coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut sugar, coconut milk, coconut butter, and the coconut meat itself. Coconuts are also perfect in savory recipes but today we are focusing on the sweeter side of eating: desserts. So go grab a bottle of coconut water, sit back and read up on how to use coconut to make the most incredible vegan desserts.
1. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is made from dried coconut meat. The oil and water are pressed out of the coconut meat, leaving only the fiber that is ground into flour. Coconut flour is a good option for those who want a gluten-free, grain-free, high-fiber flour. The taste is slightly sweet and of course, coconut-y. More and more people are choosing to cook and bake with coconut flour. In baking, it is important to know that you cannot just substitute coconut flour for other flours at a 1:1 ratio. Generally, you want to substitute ¼ to 1/3 cup coconut flour for each cup of grain-based flour. Baked goods will also need an extra boost to rise so recipes will need extra baking powder, baking soda and/or egg replacers. Since coconut flour is so absorbent, recipes will also require extra liquid. You can get more tips on using coconut flour in Everything to Know about Coconut Flour: The Grain-Free Superfood.
2. Coconut Oil/Butter
By now, a person could live in a cave and still know how healthy and delicious coconut oil is. There are amazing health benefits including strengthening the immune system. Coconut oil is also as useful in other rooms of the house as it is in the kitchen. Coconut oil is made up of medium chain triglycerides which, unlike the long chain triglycerides of animal fats, are metabolized more quickly in the body. That means increased fat burning potential. Coconut oil boosts energy levels, raises good cholesterol, and balances blood sugar. In baking, coconut oil can be used in place of any oil or butter listed in a recipe. You can even use coconut oil to make your own vegan butter.
Coconut oil is used to make these Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Whipped Coconut Cream and Chocolate, Creamy Pumpkin-Coconut Pie and Chocolate Chip Pecan Pumpkin Bread.
3. Coconut Sugar
Many of us are looking for more ways to cut out refined, white sugar but we still want to add some sweetness to our desserts. Coconut sugar is an unrefined sugar that is made from sap taken from the flower buds of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar, a.k.a coconut palm sugar, has a low glycemic index so it helps maintain blood sugar levels without that crash we usually expect from sugar. It contains iron, zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. Coconut sugar doesn’t taste the same as white sugar. In fact, it tastes a bit more like brown sugar. Use it the same way you would any other sugar.
Recipes using coconut sugar include Choco Choco Muffins, Churros With Coconut Sugar and Chilli Chocolate Sauce and this Make Your Own Vegan Nutella recipe.
4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk and cream are some of my favorite ingredients in the world. I use them both for cooking as well as baking. I even made sour cream out of coconut milk. It’s easy to learn to Make Your Own Coconut Milk and Coconut Yogurt. Coconut milk and cream is thick, light and delicious.
Use coconut milk to make Raw Fruit Popsicles, Vegan Whipped Cream, Raw Chocolate Banana Pie with Whipped Cream, Delicious and Mostly Raw Lemon Cream Pie and Strawberry Shortcakes with Coconut Whipped Cream.
5. Coconut Shreds and Flakes
Now that we have used so many parts of the coconut, let’s not forget the actual coconut meat itself. Unsweetened coconut shreds and flakes can add a natural sweetness and chewy texture to your desserts. It can be used raw, dried or toasted.
Desserts using coconut shreds and flakes include this Raw Coconut Pie, Chocolate Truffles, Juice Pulp Carrot Cake Balls, Toasted Coconut Cream Bars, Almond Joy Cookies, and Raw Cherry Chocolate Coconut Cookies.
6. Bonus Coconut Recipe Idea
As a kid, I loved chocolate pudding. As an adult, I love chocolate mousse. My Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla and Chocolate Whipped Cream is light and airy and creamy, decadent and indulgent. I make my own whipped cream in both vanilla and chocolate flavors and put it atop my delicious chocolate mousse. This is one dessert I could eat every day! First make the whipped creams. Chill 4 14-oz. cans of coconut milk overnight. Put them in the coldest part of the fridge and don’t move them around. The coconut milk will solidify overnight. The next day, take them out of the fridge and don’t shake the cans or turn them upside down. The liquid goes to the bottom of the cans and we need to get rid of it. With the pointy part of a bottle opener, puncture the bottom of the cans (without turning them upside down) and let the liquid pour out. When it finishes draining, open the tops of the cans and you should see solid coconut cream.
Using a spatula, transfer the coconut cream into a chilled metal bowl. Beat the coconut cream with a hand mixer, going from low to high speed, until it becomes thick and fluffy. Add 1 ½ Tbs. vanilla and beat to mix it in. Add in up to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it) and beat that in. Beat in ¼ cup tapioca flour, one Tbs. at a time, until you have your desired consistency. That’s it. You have vanilla whipped cream. Transfer ½ of the whipped cream to a separate bowl and set it aside. To the remaining whipped cream, add in 2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder. Beat it until it is well incorporated and now you should have about 3 cups of vanilla whipped cream and 3 cups of chocolate whipped cream. Keep it refrigerated until ready to use it.
Melt 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips in a double boiler (a metal pot or bowl sitting atop a pot of water over medium heat). Reserve another ¼ cup of chocolate chips for toppings. Let the melted chocolate cool a bit and then add it to 2 cups of the vanilla whipped cream and 2 cups of the chocolate whipped cream. Reserve the last cup of vanilla and chocolate whipped cream for toppings. Fold the chocolate in gently so the whipped cream stays light. Now you have chocolate mousse.
Pour the mixture into serving glasses and refrigerate for at least an hour or until it sets up. Top with the remaining vanilla and chocolate whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Add any of your other favorite toppings. Serve cold.
When dessert is this easy and healthy, it makes us feel better about eating it. How do you like to use coconut in desserts? Let us know in the comments section.
Lead Image Photo: Almond Joy Cookies