Friday, March 23, 2012

Coconut Cream Bark Three Ways

From left:  Cherry-Almond, German Chocolate,
 and Useful Plain Coconut Cream Barks
"What to do with coconut butter" is one of the most common search phrases I see on my blog stats.

Tropical Traditions is an excellent online vendor
 of coconut products.
Coconut butter (and coconut cream) do seem rather unapproachable, sitting solidly in their jars as they do.  Gently heated in a pan of water on the stove, though, they become quite willing to cooperate with your creativity.

Easiest by far is to make bark.  I've made lots of plain coconut cream bark, which can be used, mixed into gently warmed water, to create coconut milk on demand. 

Winter CSA Box 9's dried local tart cherries offered a great opportunity to finally follow the impulse I've been having lately to mix things into coconut cream.

Eating the way we do, tooth-achingly sweet desserts and candies are a thing of the past.   But these delicious coconut cream barks provide a flavorful, satisfying bite or two of a confectionary nature, without being overly sweet.

And of course, these combinations are just the beginning.   I'm thinking pistachioes with cranberries .... maybe toasted pumpkin seeds with cinnamon and vanilla ... or chopped dried pineapple for a pina colada version.  

Here are more ideas for coconut butter and coconut cream.  I've melted the plain shards directly into curries and soups.

Coconut butter and coconut cream can be stored unopened in their jars at room temperature.  Once made into bark, the bark should be stored in the refrigerator so that the pieces don't soften.  Coconut oil differs in that it is pure oil and is quite dense.  Coconut oil can be stored at room temperature, and in fact will be easier to use if you do so.

Is there a difference between coconut butter and coconut cream?  I think they're nearly interchangeable, but coconut cream seems to be smoother than coconut butter.


Plain, Useful Coconut Bark

1 jar (16 ounces) coconut cream or coconut butter


Place an 11" x 17" Silpat liner on a baking sheet, then place the baking sheet in the freezer.

Remove lid from jar of coconut butter, and set the jar in a pan of hot water over very low heat.  Check occasionally, and when it's soft enough to stir until smooth, get the baking sheet out of the freezer and pour the coconut cream onto the Silpat.  Spread evenly, and return the baking sheet to the freezer.

In a very short time the bark will be solid.  Peel the Silpat off the back of the bark, and break the bark into shards of varying sizes.  Store the shards in a container in the fridge, and when you need coconut milk, figure about 2 tablepoons of bark to 1/2 cup water, gently heating the water and stirring in the bark until it's a liquid.  You can vary the ratio of coconut cream to water, to suit your taste.

German Chocolate Coconut Bark

1 jar (16 ounces) coconut cream or coconut butter
1 bar Theo 91% cacao dark chocolate (or less to taste), gently melted
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

Cherry-Almond Coconut Cream Bark

1 jar (16 ounces) coconut cream or coconut butter
1-1/4 cups (about 7 ounces) dried tart cherries
1 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract

For each of these bark variations, pour the softened coconut cream into a medium bowl.  Mix in the ingredients shown, and spread onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet that has been chilled in the freezer.

Proceed as for plain coconut bark, spreading the mixture thinly, chilling, and breaking into pieces.  I scored the chocolate bark as it began to set, which resulted in squares rather than shards.

Update:  Made the chocolate version with chopped macadamias instead of pecans, and used 1/2 cup coconut for a smoother bark.  Wonderful!

Another update:  Made the cherry-almond version with chopped dried pineapple and chopped roasted, salted pistachios instead of the cherries and almonds.  Delicious!  Also added 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and left out the almond extract.

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