Archive for: coconut
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.
An icy, blended pina colada is a drink that reminds me of being on vacation in Hawaii, where I’ve had some of the best pina coladas (in the best atmosphere) that I can remember. It’s a combination of coconut, pineapple and rum blended up with lots of ice. Every time I have one, it takes me back to my last trip out there. And even if you haven’t been to Hawaii (yet), the tropical flavors in a pina colada can give you the feel of what it is like to sit on the beach with a tropical drink.
Of course, these Pina Colada Scones aren’t quite as cooling as an icy, blended drink – but they still do capture the flavors of the tropics. They include coconut milk, shredded coconut and dried pineapple. They’re buttery and tender, with a good coconut flavor to them and just enough pineapple to make the idea of the cocktail come through. These are “virgin” scones and don’t include any alcohol, but if you want to make them even more like the drink, you can add in a splash of rum extract to give it a hint of rum flavor.
Fresh pineapple has a lot of moisture in it that can make the scones soggy, so dried pineapple works better in this recipe because it keeps the scones light and tender. Freeze dried pineapple, finely chopped, could also be used and is another option for infusing these with pineapple flavor. You can use sweetened or unsweetened coconut in these and both will give you good results. I prefer to use sweetened coconut because it helps boost the coconut flavor a little bit. The scones are best the day they are made, but they will keep well for a day or two when stored in an airtight container.
Freeze dried fruit is something that I see a lot in stores (Trader Joe’s carries a big variety), mostly because it is being marketed as a healthy snack food. I do not like eating freeze dried fruit on its own, but it can be good in cereal and is a great way to add a lot of flavor to baked goods that you couldn’t otherwise get fresh berries into easily. These Raspberry Coconut Macaroons are a perfect example of a recipe that gets a huge flavor boost from freeze dried fruit where you couldn’t easily use fresh raspberries.
Coconut macaroons are simple cookies, usually made with just coconut, egg whites and sugar. They have a crisp exterior and a moist, chewy interior, a great balance of flavor and texture. They are moist, but they are not “wet” inside and whole berries – such as fresh raspberries – will just add too much moisture to your typical macaroon. Freeze dried fruit has a lot of flavor but doesn’t add any moisture and will not take up much space in each cookie, so you can still have bite sized cookies that deliver a lot of raspberry flavor in a perfect macaroon package. The combination seems very spring-like to me, with the zesty raspberry and sweet coconut. The cookies are light and make a great snack any time of day.
If you can’t find freeze dried raspberries, try checking the healthy snack section of your local market. You might be surprised at what is lurking there! Other freeze dried fruits – mango, strawberry, etc. – will also work in these. In a pinch, you could opt for regular dried fruit instead, but that won’t give you the hint of pink that makes these macaroons look oh-so-tasty.
Trader Joe’s recently added a new product to their ever popular “Baker Josef’s” line of baking products: Shredded Sweetened Coconut. Shredded coconut is a product that I like to use a lot in baking, from muffins to pies, and I typically stock up on it at a regular market, where there are usually two brands or so to choose from. I’ve seen this product on shelves for at least a few weeks now, but hesitated to try it because the package is a lot smaller than the ones sold at the regular market. Of course, most recipes using coconut only call for a cup or so, so their relatively small 6-ounce package is something that you could pick up and use in one recipe, rather than opening a large bag and having to store (and possible throw away) leftovers.
Baker Josef’s coconut comes in a small, airtight pouch that keeps the coconut as fresh as possible, so you get a nice little burst of coconut smell when you open the package. The other thing that you’ll notice right away is that the coconut has a faintly golden, toasty color to it even though this isn’t sold as a toasted coconut product. Indeed, the coconut has been partially dried before packaging. This means that the coconut is less moist and chewy, but that it also toasts much, much faster if you are looking to use toasted coconut in a recipe. It has a fresh flavor and is less sweet than many other sweetened coconut brands, which makes it a good option for those who generally reach for unsweetened coconut for their baking. The shreds are rather long, so I found that it helped to give the coconut a quick chop before using, especially when I was folding it in to baked goods instead of using it as garnish.
One last thing I liked was the list of coconut recipe ideas on the back. It never hurts to have a little inspiration for doing some baking – and I would definitely reach for a bag of this again when I’m looking to use some coconut and don’t need the larger sizes sold at the regular market.
Coconut fans will want to bookmark these Vanilla Coconut Muffins because, although they look plain, they are delicious muffins that deliver a lot of flavor. I happen to be a big fan of coconut myself, and one of my pet peeves about some coconut recipes is that they don’t have very much coconut in them. These muffins don’t fit that mold at all. They are packed with lots of shredded coconut to give you a lot of coconut in every single bite.
Aside from coconut, vanilla is the other dominant flavor in these muffins. I was generous with it, to make sure that it stood out against the coconut and had a real presence in the finished muffin. The muffins are dense and tender, with a very tight crumb (thanks, in part, to all that coconut). The muffins are excellent plain, but are also very good when spread with a little bit of salted butter. These are big muffins with large, domed tops. As a result, they take a little longer to bake than some other muffin recipes might. Be sure to check them with a toothpick to make sure that it comes out clean and the muffins are fully cooked before taking them out of the oven to cool.
I like these muffins as-is, but if you want to put a little spin on them one easy way to do it is by adding some citrus zest into the muffin batter. Lemon, lime and orange all go very well with coconut and a tablespoon of zest will give these a whole new flavor.