Coconut vs. Heavy Cream in Chocolate Ganache

If avoiding dairy, can you substitute coconut cream for heavy cream in chocolate ganache?

At its most basic, chocolate ganache is a simple formula of two ingredients: melted chocolate and heavy cream. Would coconut cream make a reasonable substitution for those who avoid dairy? To find out, we made side-by-side batches of dark chocolate ganache, one with heavy cream and one with coconut cream. The samples were surprising. In the batch made with coconut cream, tasters did detect slight coconut flavor. They also noticed slightly muted chocolate flavor and a somewhat less luxurious texture. These were minor, however, and overall most tasters thought that the coconut cream worked well as a substitute.

Out of curiosity we also tried coconut cream as a substitute in other applications, including creamy tomato soup, creamed onions, and crème brûlée. None of these applications worked nearly as well as the dark chocolate ganache. Both the tomato soup and onions tasted oddly sweet and oily, and the crème brûlée using coconut cream never fully set up. Given these results, we’d stick with just using it in ganache.

THE BOTTOM LINE: You can substitute coconut cream for heavy cream in dark chocolate ganache. But it does not work in other applications we tried.

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