I love yogurt but it takes forever to make. Ok, not forever, but you have to get the temperature of the milk exactly right (the bacteria only cultures within the range of a very few degrees) and let it ferment for a number of hours. Even if you think you have gotten everything just right sometimes at the end of the whole process you are still just left with warm milk. Good plant-based yogurt (that doesn’t have soy) is hard to come by and expensive–my favorite brand runs close to $11 a pint.
A while ago I realized that an organic market in the West Village, Life Thyme, had come up with their own answer to coconut yogurt–an addictive product they call coconut creme. Made from fatty coconut milk and meat as well as dates and honey the little to-go cups are a dessert made in heaven, and also densely caloric. In fact, that coconut yogurt I love so much? It is super caloric as well, and contributes little else, nutritionally, to my diet.
So I decided to see if I could make my own happy medium between the two–a dish that had some of the tang of yogurt and the sweetness of Life Thyme’s coconut creme–with a better calorie-to-nutrient ratio. I also wanted it to take faster than making yogurt from scratch. My version of the coconut creme uses frozen shredded coconut meat from the local Asian supermarket–I am just not going to break down coconuts by hand after work. The brand I use is Phil-Am, I like that they don’t add any sweeteners or gums to the shredded coconut and freeze the pieces in coconut water–which means I don’t have to buy the coconut water separately when making this dish. Adding in a tiny bit of full fat coconut milk helps the cream achieve a smoother, fattier consistency.
I like to stretch this coconut cream out by using it in parfaits–it is too sweet to have on its own for breakfast and the fruit in the parfait contributes some needed nutritional value to the dish. In this version, the sourness of the passion fruit pulp works to balance the sweetness of the coconut cream. I also added in some almonds for protein and texture as well as figs because, frankly, they are delicious and in season.
Tropical Breakfast Parfait with Homemade Coconut Cream
24 oz fresh young shredded coconut meat, defrosted and one cup of coconut water removed
1 tsp. vanilla powder
Juice of one key lime
2 tbsps. full fat coconut milk
pinch of salt
9 figs, quartered
3 tbsps. sliced almonds, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 passion fruit pulp
key lime zest
Coconut Cream: In a blender combine all of the ingredients and blend until no longer grainy. It may take a while to get the mixture completely smooth, but don’t give up–it will happen!
To Assemble the Parfait: Place eight fig quarters on the bottom of a glass and top with one tablespoon sliced almonds. Spoon three tablespoons coconut cream over the almonds and top with 1/3 of the passion fruit pulp. Add six more tablespoons of the coconut creme and garnish with four more fig quarters, a pinch of almond slivers and key lime zest. Makes 3 servings.