In several recipes I've seen recently that I wanted to make, one of the ingredients is cream of coconut. I have searched supermarkets in the canned, packaged and frozen sections — and asked employees — but nowhere have I found cream of coconut. I found shredded coconut, grated coconut and coconut milk. Can you help?
— Kelly H., Shady Cove
It's truly puzzling that you couldn't find cream of coconut at any of those stores, but more perplexing are store employees who didn't help. Sold in cans, cream of coconut — also known as coconut cream — is not an exotic, hard-to-find item.
It usually is found either in Latin or Asian sections of supermarkets, or sometimes in the bartending section or baking aisle. You also can find it in many liquor stores. Brand names include Coco-Lopez, Goya and Roland.
Cream of coconut is widely used in baking and desserts and ethnic cooking. And, of course, in tropical drinks like pina coladas.
It is to coconut milk what sweetened condensed milk is to plain milk. It has a thick, creamy texture and concentrated coconut flavor, made by cooking fresh coconut meat with water and then sweetening the strained reduction.
In a pinch, you can substitute sweetened condensed milk for cream of coconut by adding coconut extract to taste.
For a Thai-inspired grilling sauce that's delicious with seafood, combine 2/3 cup canned cream of coconut, 1/2 cup lime juice, 7 tablespoons minced scallions, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, or to taste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
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