Old Cravings New Friends (Recipe: Coconut Cream)

After the birth of my second daughter I went through months of intense cravings. More so than even when I was pregnant. I wanted all things bitter and anything coconut I could find. I'm sure it all meant I was deficient in something, in addition to sleep. It lasted months. Then it drifted away. I didn't think about coconut much again until this past summer.

I've got a few friends who can't or won't eat dairy. Frankly, I hope this is something that never happens to me because I love a cold glass of milk. But one of them told me about this awesome alternative to whipping cream. I sat on it, letting it fester in the back of my head where food ideas grow like weeds until they crowd out the real thoughts.

There was a late summer party planned and a guest with a strong dairy allergy. I had a strawberry shortcake bar planned and thought it would be awful if he couldn't participate. And I didn't want him to feel singled out either. So I grabbed this idea and whipped up a batch of coconut cream. Then another, during the party.

It wasn't the little guy who can't eat dairy who ate it all and then some. It was the rest of us.

Creamy beyond belief, rich but not sweet. It keeps in the fridge without separated or deflating. Perfect just about anywhere you would want whipped cream. Like pumpkin pie, shortcakes, hot chocolate, on a bowl of raspberries, over a banana sundae, topping grilled pineapple, on a slice of pecan pie...

Coconut Cream
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 can coconut milk (do not use the low-fat kind)
1 tbsp icing sugar

Chill the can of coconut milk, unopened, in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Keep it upright and don't shake it.

When fully chilled open the can and scoop out the hardened cream on the top. It will be about 2/3 to 3/4 of the can. Set aside the milk at the bottom of the can, perhaps using it as a substitute for water when cooking rice.

Place the hardened cream in the bowl of a mixer. Whip for 1-2 minutes. Add in the icing sugar (a bit more if you prefer it sweeter) and whip until incorporated.

Serve immediately or place in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to eat.