Being lactose- and dairy-sensitive is not a walk in the park–either avoid dairy, or understand it comes with a hefty caveat. My partner is an Italian-American who hesitates to eat cheese. When I offer him a dessert with whipped cream, he just about laughs in my face (before crying into his oat milk ice cream). Luckily, you don't need cows to have a light and fluffy dollop of whipped cream.
I was skeptical at first, but if burgers can be made from plants, I figured whipped cream could be made from them as well. This vegan whipped cream recipe is extremely straightforward. Use chilled coconut cream as the base, then whip it with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla just like you would heavy whipping cream.
Just like heavy cream, coconut cream contains a great deal of fat. Whipping with a hand mixer traps tiny air bubbles in the fats, gradually changing the texture. After a few minutes of whipping, the formerly waxy canned coconut cream becomes silky and light. Adding powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla transforms it fully into a luxurious dessert topping.
Unlike dairy whipped cream, the success of this coconut whipped cream hinges entirely on how cold all of the components are. It's important that the coconut cream be as cold as possible (which will help you separate it from the water anyway), and all of the tools should be chilled. The closer the materials are to being near freezing, the better the whipped cream will hold.
How to make coconut whipped cream
Put a can of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or overnight. You'll be whipping the fat only, so you might as well get the full-fat variety. The cold temperature will cause the saturated fats to become solid and rise to the top, separating distinctly from the coconut water.
About 10 or 15 minutes before you plan on whipping, place a metal mixing bowl and the beaters in the freezer. Once everything is chilled, get ready to whip. It'll only take a few minutes from here. Do not shake the can. The fat cap will be easy to remove without the water getting involved. Open the can and use a spoon to start scooping out the coconut cream and place it in the chilled bowl. From a 13.5-ounce can you'll get about 12 ounces of coconut cream and about two ounces or so of coconut water at the bottom of the can. Discard the water or save it for another use.
Whip the coconut fat with the chilled beater. I used a hand mixer, but you could use a stand mixer with a chilled whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed for three or four minutes. You'll see the coconut cream smooth out, then become fluffy and leave a light trail behind in the wake of the beaters. Stop here and add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip for another minute or two.
The coconut whipped cream will reach a soft peak consistency, perfect for dolloping on top of pies, cakes, puddings, or alongside fresh fruit. The coconut flavor is light but present, which I love, and it pairs well with almost any sweet treat. I had mine with some banana slices, which sounds like something a four year-old would eat, but it's a winning flavor combination if you ask me (and probably the nearest toddler).
Coconut whipped cream won't ever be firm enough to pipe sharp rosettes or support layers of cake, but if you find that it's very watery, return the bowl of coconut cream to the fridge and let it chill down for another hour. Odds are that it was too warm. Once it's cold, chill down the whisk attachment and try to whip it again.
Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream
Ingredients:1 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, chilled⅓ cup powdered sugar½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a mixing bowl and beaters (or a whisk attachment) in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Once they're chilled, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the solid fat. Discard or save the coconut water for another use. Place the coconut fat in the mixing bowl. On medium speed, whip the coconut milk with the chilled attachment for three or four minutes. The cream will be smooth and fluffy, and it should be thick enough to leave a ripple, or trail when whisking.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix lightly at first (so you don't end up wearing the sugar). Then whip on medium speed for another minute or so. The whipped cream should be thick and scoopable. Dollop on top of your dessert immediately. Cover and store the remaining whipped cream in the refrigerator.