Coconut cream is a type of coconut milk, the creamy liquid that comes from pressing fresh coconut meat. The difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is the consistency. Coconut cream is very thick, almost paste-like, and contains much less water than coconut milk does. It has a creamy, slightly oily texture to it and a distinct coconut flavor and is good for use in recipes where you are adding coconut and want some extra richness. For instance, it can be a great addition when making a coconut ice cream recipe, where some additional fat will result in an even smoother and creamier finished product.
Coconut cream is typically sold in cans and it should be poured out and stirred before use, as the water and solids in the cream will often separate if it has been stored for a while. When shopping for coconut cream, check labels carefully so that you don’t accidentally buy “cream of coconut” instead. Coconut cream is different from cream of coconut in much the same way that sweetened condensed milk is different from evaporated milk. Products labeled “cream of coconut” are made for use in drinks and typically have a lot of sugar added to them. Coconut cream, however, is not sweetened, and switching the two can throw off your flavors in a recipe.