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Advice On: Substituting Cream in Dessert Recipes

My go-to substitution for heavy cream in sweet recipes is coconut cream. Despite the name, coconut cream contains no dairy. It’s made purely from pureed coconut, but has a rich, creamy texture.

Like dairy cream, coconut cream is high in saturated fat, allowing it to solidify at cooler temperatures. Thus, coconut cream can be whipped, and maintains a rich and creamy texture when frozen.

Coconut cream is suprisingly easy to locate; you’ll find it in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores under the guise of canned coconut milk. Coconut cream is simply the rich part of full-fat coconut milk. As the coconut milk rests, the cream rises to the top to form a very thick layer that can be scooped out like soft ice cream.

In fact, the sign of a good canned coconut milk is one that separates into a watery base with up to 3/4 cup of “stand a fork in it” cream on top. During warmer months, chill the coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours to assist in the separation.

*A Note on Coconut
Coconut is technically a fruit. While most allergists do not consider it a tree nut, if you are nut allergic, ask your doctor if coconut is safe for you.

Alisa Fleming is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of

More Allergy-Free Cooking Advice: 

Baking with No Milk or Eggs
Secrets to a Better Buttermilk
Substituting Butter in Baked Goods



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