When you come across a recipe asking for cream of coconut, you might be a little confused. Probably, there are a whole bunch of other coco products readily available, and you may be tempted to bag one of those because what you were looking for is nowhere to be seen.
So you most likely go home with one of the coconut creams - and end up wondering why your cocktail doesn't turn out the way you thought it would.
That is because these products are far from being the same. Yes, both sound similar, and the base is identical, but you cannot use them interchangeably. -It would be even better to buy coconut milk instead. We show you why they are different and how this difference will affect your cocktails.
Coconut Cream vs. Cream of Coconut - an overview
Here's a table where you can see the differences and similarities. We also included coconut milk, and you can already see why it is more comparable to cream of coconut than coconut cream.
|Cream of Coconut||Coconut Cream||Coconut Milk|
|Calories (per 100ml)||400||300||230|
|Sugar (gr/100ml)||70||7 - 10||2-4|
|Fat (gr/100ml)||10.8||35 - 60||15 - 20|
|Color||white / beige||white||white|
The differences explained
To explain the difference between coconut cream and cream of coconut, I want to take one step back and start with coconut milk.
That consists of coconut pulp and water. The higher the percentage of the pulp, the higher the fat content. Usually, it is between 1.5% (skim) and 20% (high-fat).
Coconut cream is similar but has less water. That makes it thicker and less fluid, and it increases the fat content to over 35%, and the sugar content goes up a little, as well.
Cream of coconut, on the other hand, is a highly sweetened product. It is richer in taste yet lower in fat than the two others, and it is a popular cocktail ingredient for classic cocktail recipes like the Piña Colada. The consistency is comparable to a very thick syrup - almost like toothpaste.
Do I need cream of coconut for Cocktails?
Yes, if you want, for instance, a perfect Piña Colada or a Painkiller, you absolutely need that. Sometimes you may come across recipes for these drinks calling for other coconut-based ingredients or even heavy cream. However, they won't deliver.
Still, if you want your Piña Colada to be just like you would get it served in Cuba or a good cocktail bar, then there's no shortcut because it needs the combination of low fat and high sugar content.
Basically, cream of coconut is the magical ingredient that brings these tropical cocktails together. Not using it is the reason why so many people think they don't like Piña Coladas.
Can I somehow substitute it with Coconut Cream?
To make this short and sweet: no, unfortunately, you can not interchange those two products. One is meant for cooking, and the other is mostly used for cocktails.
If you can not get cream of coconut in your supermarket, there are only two options. You buy some online or make your own at home. Don't worry. Making homemade cream of coconut is not too difficult, and the result tastes great.
Coconut milk is the key
When you compare cream of coconut with coconut milk - as you can see in the table above - you will notice that the fat contents are relatively similar. That is the one factor you cannot change easily.
So by adding sugar to the milk, you can get cream of coconut, whereas if you would add sugar to coconut cream, the fat content would still be far too high.
The final verdict
If your recipe asks for cream of coconut, don't go with a poor replacement. Ideally, you can get it in your local supermarket or, alternatively, you make it at home.
Otherwise, there's just no satisfying substitute. And I promise, once you have tried it in your cocktails, you won't have it any other way.