Coconut Whipped Cream
This is a great topping for fancy desserts. To make the cream, you will need a hand (immersion) blender (a regular blender won’t work for this) and electric beaters.
1/3 cup (80 ml.) vanilla rice milk
2 tsp. (10 ml.) home-ground agar “powder”–it should look like this (these grains are in a teaspoon (5 ml.) to give you an idea of size):
2 tsp. (10 ml.) plus 1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) cornstarch, divided
2 scant Tbsp. (25 ml.) agave nectar
pinch sea salt
1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract
1 can (398 ml.) full-fat coconut milk (22% fat content), at room temperature (shake well before opening)
Step 1: In a small pot, combine the rice milk and agar. Allow to sit, covered and at room temperature, for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Stir everything but the 1 Tbsp. cornstarch into the agar mixture and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to boil. Lower heat so that the mixture is still bubbling just under the surface, and set a timer for 10 minutes. While it continues to cook, stir every minute or so.
After 5 minutes, choose one of the following options: (1) if all the agar is dissolved (and no longer visible on a rubber spatula or spoon), remove from heat and turn off the timer (just forget about the last 5 minutes). Pour into a bowl and proceed to step 3.
OR: (2) If you can still see bits of agar, like this:
then continue to cook for the remaining 5 minutes on the timer, and stir every minute or so. After 5 more minutes (10 total), remove the mixture from the heat, even if there are still tiny bits of agar left in it (they will be blended out next). Pour into a bowl and proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Pour the mixture into a deep bowl. Immediately blend with your immersion blender until perfectly smooth and no bits of agar are visible (careful, it’s hot and may spray a bit!). Set aside to cool somewhat.
Step 4: When the mixture is still slightly warm but no longer hot (and still fairly liquid), sprinkle the remaining 1 Tbsp. cornstarch over the top; using the immersion blender, blend again to even out the texture and get rid of any little lumps. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until the mixture is ice-cold; it will become very solid, like an extremely firm gel.
Step 5: Once again using the immersion blender, blend the gelled mixture until it is perfectly smooth and no lumps remain, but don’t blend any more than necessary. Scrape down the sides as you go.
Step 6: Now, using the beaters, beat the smoothed mixture until soft peaks form. If the mixture is cold, this should happen fairly quickly. You’ll have a soft cream that holds very soft peaks, but definitely holds its shape. It will look something like this:
Step 7: At this point, you can mound the cream over a pie, or put it in a piping bag and gently pipe it. It will seem too soft to pipe, but as long as it holds a shape in the bowl (and the surface of the cream doesn’t “melt” and flatten), it can be piped. Here’s how I piped it even when the cream turned out quite soft: