How to make coconut whipped cream

Coconut whipped cream

I’ve heard from a lot of people that making coconut whipped cream has proven to be a serious challenge – often times they can’t get the coconut milk fat to separate from the water, even after the can’s spent a good 24 hours in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, this has little to do with your cooling chamber and a lot to do with the stabilizers used to keep the coconut milk fat suspended in the liquid; the ingredients in some cans just won’t allow the two to separate.
Stabilizers aside, the other culprit is too much air – which you can avoid by picking up the can of coconut milk and giving it a gentle shake. If you can hear the liquid sloshing around, you need to put it back on the shelf – chances are this can is a dud as far as making coconut whipped cream is concerned. What you need to listen for is a small pocket of air that moves around, making a soft gurgley sound. This method has proven to be effective in finding cans of coconut milk that encourage milk fat separation. In other words, it’s never let me down. Not once.
If you don’t feel confident in your ability to differentiate between sloshing and gurgling, Thai Kitchen will be your best (and safest) bet. In my experience, it’s the only brand of coconut milk that has consistently produced good quality whipped cream. If you’re rolling your eyes because their cans are lined with BPA – I knooow. It pains me, but I suck it up and buy it because I’m not a fan of buying $2 cans of coconut milk that yield separation only 50% of the time. Which is what usually happens when I bring home Native Forest coconut milk with high hopes of turning it into whipped cream. When in doubt, buy a few different cans and experiment to see which brand works best for you. But for the love of Buddha, do not try to speed up the process by freezing the can. You’ll be left with a solid block of coconut milk and a half-exploded can. Not that I know from experience, or anything.

Refrigerated coconut milk
The good stuff
We be whippin'
Iced coffee with coconut whipped cream
Strawberries and coconut whipped cream
DUDE

Notes: My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s super customizable and can take on whatever flavor your little taste buds desire. Strawberry? Muddle some strawberries and mix them in. Lemon? Squeeze in a bit of juice and add some zest for an extra kick. Chocolate? I think you know what to do. You could also go crazy and add some whiskey and a bit of caramel sauce. And then use the boozy whipped cream to smother your favorite chocolate bundt cake. Or you can enjoy the creamy white stuff, in its simplest form, atop your favorite caffeinated beverage, with fresh fruit, or with strawberry-coconut shortcakes (which are coming soon).

COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp powdered cane sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the top layer of white, fatty goodness into a decent sized mixing bowl (discard the coconut water or save it for smoothies). Blend the chunks of coconut milk with a hand mixer on high speed for 15-20 seconds, just until the mixture turns to liquid. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until light and creamy. Whipped cream is best served immideately, but can be stored in an air tight container for up to three days. It will harden in the fridge, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high speed until creamy again.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

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Raw lemon goji berry bites

Raw lemon goji berry bites

Today marks 90 days until a jet plane carries us across the Atlantic and drops us in Europe until the middle of November. Which means I only have three months to prepare myself for the period of time where life isn’t going to be as comfy and effortless as it is right here in Denver, Colorado. In my cozy loft, in the heart of downtown, with enormous windows and a killer nighttime view and the best burritos in town within walking distance. 1/2 block walking distance. I’ve been weaning myself off of the gym and green smoothies, and have been trying my best to whittle down the pile of crap I want to take to a sensible amount I need to take. I’m anxious, can you tell? I just need these next three months to fly by without a hitch, because it’s hard to concentrate when you have something this big looming on the horizon.

So, for the next 90 days I’m going to be constantly reminding myself that in the very near future I’m not going to be able to eat my typical vegetable heavy diet or wash my hair with my favorite shampoo, just because I like the way it calms my natural waves. I won’t be seeing familiar faces, spending early mornings lifting heavy things, or keeping up with the demands of taking a bunch of vitamins I don’t really know if I need, but I swear make me feel better. I’m trying to prepare myself for the fact that I’m going to be showering in flip flops, sharing rooms with strangers, and eating a bunch of food I probably wouldn’t touch if we were still in Denver (pizza marinara, I can’t wait to get my hands on you). But despite any impending difficulties or metaphorical bumps in the road or having frizzy hair every single day of the trip, I think I’m going to experience four of the most spontaneous and adventurous months of my life. Europe, I can’t wait to see you.

Meyer lemons
Goji berries
Raw lemon goji berry ingredients
Raw lemon goji berry bites
Raw lemon goji berry bites

Notes: If you’d prefer to use cashews in place of almonds, knock yourself out. I haven’t tried any other type of nut so I can’t recommend anything else. The goji berries can be replaced with any dried berry; cranberries, acai berries, etc. Cherries would probably work well, too. Whole Foods sells goji berries in their bulk section, and a half a cup ran me about $3.
RAW LEMON GOJI BERRY BITES

2 cups raw almonds
Pinch of Himalayan salt
10 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes
Juice and zest of two meyer lemons
1/2 cup goji berries, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, optional

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the almonds and salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and lemon juice/zest; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl and mix in the goji berries and coconut with a wooden spoon. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll into round balls, if desired. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 85 bites

Easy caramel sauce

Easy caramel sauce

I’ve been looking for a way to make caramel sauce that is less involved than my other recipe. Because I don’t have time to wait around for 25 minutes, watching as coconut milk and sugar evolve into golden, syrupy goodness. And you probably don’t either. In the amount of time it takes for a pot of caramel to come to life, you could watch a rerun of The Office. Without the commercials. Or you could clean the kitchen. And when you’re done with that, maybe organize all of your stuff in the bathroom? No? Fine. But I really don’t think it’s necessary to have two dozen replacement razor heads or a year’s supply of bio-rutin supplements or three different conditioning treatments taking up precious bathroom real estate. Speaking of conditioner, maybe you could take a shower? And wash your hair while you’re at it because not washing your hair for four days is gross. I don’t care if you’re trying to protect your cylindrical filaments from the arid Colorado climate. It’s not cool to go on a hair washing strike when you share a bed with another human being. Your hair is dirty. Wash it.

Did that get weird? That kind of got weird. Anyway, I’m not saying we should ditch the old recipe entirely (ok, maybe we should), but this recipe is nice to have on hand when you don’t have half an hour to devote to making caramel sauce. It’s also nice to have on hand when you want to make caramel apple crumb pie at the eleventh hour. Like, maybe later this week?

Easy caramel sauce in the making
Easy caramel sauce in the making
Easy caramel sauce

Notes: Feel free to use brown sugar or muscovado sugar in place of the whole cane sugar (sometimes found under the brand name sucanat). I use whole cane sugar because a) I’ve got a lot of it hanging around my kitchen and b) it’s a nice alternative to highly processed brown sugar. Which actually starts out as whole sugar, but has the molasses removed for processing and then added back at the very end. Are you making a weird face? I did too when I first found out. So just buy the natural stuff, yo. Oh, and say you forget to whisk your caramel for a few minutes and it burns and sticks to the bottom of the pan. But you don’t find out until you go to whisk it and burnt flecks of caramel ruin your perfectly golden sauce. No worries! Simply pass the caramel through a fine mesh strainer a couple of times then place it back on the stove (in a clean pot, of course) to finish cooking. Crisis averted!

EASY CARAMEL SAUCE

1 13.6 oz can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/2 cup whole cane sugar

Start by opening the can of coconut milk and separating the thick, white milk fat from the water. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut water to a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-6 minutes, whisking only a few times, then stir in 1 cup of the coconut milk fat (you may have more or less, depending on your can of coconut milk – that’s ok). Reduce the heat to medium and boil the mixture for 5 minutes, whisking every minute or so. If you added less than 1 cup of coconut milk fat, you’ll want to cook the mixture for an extra 2-3 minutes. Off the heat, then transfer the caramel to a glass jar and cool on counter, uncovered, until the caramel reaches room temperature. Refrigerate for at least four hours before using; caramel will thicken as it cools. Will keep for up to one week.

Yield: 2/3-1 cup caramel sauce

Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Two waffle recipes over the course of one month might seem excessive – ok, it is excessive – but this recipe is not like the other. Because this recipe is for one waffle. Just one. And I wanted so badly to call this the single lady waffle then realized it might be offensive to Thom considering this is my go-to waffle recipe and I am not a single lady. I am, however, a single lady at breakfast time because I can’t remember the last morning we ate first breakfast together. Which is a shame because I really enjoy first breakfast. A lot more than second breakfast, which is usually a mug of stale coffee and a few scoops of peanut butter drizzled over an apple or banana.

Are you following along? So far: first breakfast > second breakfast and, if you’re single, this recipe is for you. But if you’re not single, this recipe might still be for you. Like, maybe you have a significant other who sleeps in two hours past breakfast time? Yep, this waffle’s for you. And if he tries telling you that this recipe technically makes enough waffles for two breakfasts, just remind him who wakes up at 6AM to go to the gym. Who spends an hour running and competing over the only good set of 35 pound dumbbells with a bunch of meatheads. Remind him who walks all the way home in the cold (COMMITMENT) with a bottomless pit for a stomach, while he’s still sleeping like a baby. So he wouldn’t know the first thing about eating a proper breakfast because babies don’t eat that much.

I digress. If you’re on Team Thom, go ahead and share the other half of this waffle with your favorite person. If you are your favorite person, go ahead and save it for later. Or you could halve the recipe to make one waffle (except everyone on Team Ashlae knows it’s actually just half of one waffle). If you’re a big kid and like starting off your day with a solid 500 calories, don’t change a thing and down the entire waffle for breakfast. With a protein shake on the side. And maybe a banana smeared with peanut butter and rolled in chocolate chips. And now this is just getting ridiculous, but see what happens when I try to make a point?
Blueberry maple syrup + buckwheat waffle
Buckwheat waffle with blueberry maple syrup, for one

Notes: Feel free to use any flour you want. I’ve successfully made this waffle with all purpose flour, spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and a gluten free flour blend. You can also use any starch you want (or flax meal – that works, too), but if you don’t have starch or flax meal hanging around, add an extra 2 tablespoons of flour to the batter. If you don’t have a 2 slice Belgian waffle maker, you can probably get away with making this recipe in your normal waffle maker (but it might make more than one waffle).

BUCKWHEAT WAFFLE WITH BLUEBERRY MAPLE SYRUP, FOR ONE

Buckwheat waffle
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tbsp potato starch
1 1/2 tsp cane sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup frozen blueberries, optional

Blueberry maple syrup
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, divided
2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat a 2 slice Belgian waffle maker. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, starch, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk, oil and vanilla extract; whisk just until combined. Let the mixture stand to thicken for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the blueberries using a spatula. Spray the waffle maker with oil then cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

For the blueberry maple syrup, bring 1/4 cup of the blueberries and maple syrup to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes then strain the cooked blueberries from the syrup. Add the remaining blueberries to the syrup and let sit for 10 minutes to allow the berries to thaw. Once ready, drizzle over waffle then top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired.

Yield: 1 waffle

Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Wake up in the middle of the night. Where are my goggles? Find them under Thom’s elbow; lift it up, snatch them back, put them over my big head. Roll over to check the time. It’s 4:47. It’s always 4:47. Sit up. Go to rub my eyes and realize there are goggles in the way. Oh, and you’re not supposed to rub your eyes. Grab my shirt from the end of the bed. I got naked in my sleep again. I bet Thom liked that. Put on pants. A warm sweater. Tiptoe across the cold tile floor, into the bathroom. Sit on the toilet and empty the truckload of urine my bladder collected last night. Take off my goggles. Look at the container of soap sitting at the sink.

AROMATHERAPEUTIC Hand & Body Care Hard-working, naturally derived ingredients and essential oils provide a fresh and clean approach. Oh, how gentle LAVENDER has been valued for it’s wonderful scent that is soothing & believed to RELIEVE FATIGUE. All from an herb.

Wait a minute. You can read the soap label? From here? YOU CAN READ THE SOAP LABEL? Jump up off the toilet. Forget to wash my hands. Run out into the main living area and stand across the room from the bookshelf. I can read every title. Every subtitle. I can identify the books that were loved too much; their bindings are broken, their corners are worn. I can see the growth rings and knots in the woody frame. I can see everything. Clear as day.

Jump with joy. Literally. Do that weird kick/punch thing you do when you get excited. Maybe knock over a chair. You should probably pick it back up. Cry. Hard. For your new vision and ability to see every detail of this beautiful place. Every detail that not even glasses could help you see. Every detail of which you were robbed for the first 24 years of your life. Wash your hands. Give thanks to the man who corrected your 20/200 vision with that fancy laser machine. Think about kissing his face all over next time you see him. Run into the bedroom and kiss Thom’s face all over. Make waffles. Stuff your face with raw almond coconut cacao nib bites and ruin your appetite for waffles. Eat a waffle anyway because not eating a waffle just wouldn’t be right. Eat a waffle anyway because today we’re celebrating eyeballs that finally serve their purpose. All thanks to a man and his fancy laser machine.

Ground almonds + coconut
Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites
Raw almond coconut cacao nib bites

Notes: I’ve got to admit – it’s taken me almost a year (gasp!) to share this recipe with you guys. Kicking myself. Are you kicking me, too? The add-ins at the end are going to seem like a lot, but trust me on this – add 1/4 cup of each the chopped almonds and cacao nibs. I rolled a few of them in cacao powder to amp up the chocolate flavor, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. You can find the baked version here. And if you want real deal almond joy bites, go here. Or! If you’re not into the awesomeness that is almond + coconut + chocolate, might I interest you in raw brownie bites?
RAW ALMOND COCONUT CACAO NIB BITES

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds, divided
Pinch of Himalayan salt
8 medjool dates, pitted
3 tbsp raw almond milk (or water)
1/4 cup cacao nibs

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the coconut, 1/2 cup of the almonds, and sea salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and pulse for 30-45 seconds. Add the nut milk; pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl. Coarsely chop the almonds then stir into the mixture, along with the cacao nibs. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 30 minutes then transfer to an air tight container. Will keep in freezer for several months but I doubt they’ll last that long.

Yield: about 55 bites

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Waiting in line at the post office the other day, an older lady with fire engine red lips and perfect platinum hair turned around, looked at me and said, You look tired. I wanted to tell her to mind her own business because WHO SAYS THAT TO A STRANGER? But instead I pulled down my sunglasses and said, I am. I’m really fucking tired.
Her eyes got wide, like she couldn’t believe I just said the f-word to a sweet, little lady such as herself. She gathered her packages, moved along the line and didn’t feel the need to make any other comments to the girl with the potty mouth who wears her sunglasses indoors.

But it’s true, I was tired. So. Incredibly. Tired. My inability to sleep past 5am is only matched by my inability to fall asleep before midnight (except for the other night when I fell asleep on the couch at 10:30) (that was rad), and it’s taking its toll. I have no appetite or energy to go the gym. My body aches all over. And all I want to do is sit on the couch, kick up my feet, and daydream about Thom feeding me chocolate for every meal. Daydream because I have no appetite, remember? And even if I did have an appetite, he wouldn’t ever let me get away with eating chocolate for every meal. He’s kind of a stickler for a well-rounded, vegetable heavy diet.

Sweet potato puree + hot waffle iron
Cacao nibs

I have access to pharmaceutical drugs. Lots of them. From that time I spent five months going back and forth between specialists who felt it necessary to write me prescriptions for things that would numb the pain. But I didn’t want to numb the pain. I wanted to feel better. Genuinely, not fictitiously. So these prescriptions, there’s about a dozen of them and they’re currently tucked into a pocket in a mailbag I never carry. Buried in a basket at the top of my closet that’s much too high for my five foot eight inch frame to reach. I hid them there just in case I ever wanted to forget the pain and have a day of normalcy. But if I really, truly wanted to take the easy way out, I’d have to work for it. And in the end, the effort of carrying a stool into my bedroom and rooting through a basket full of bags would be daunting enough for me to just deal with the current state of things. Which is feeling tired. And ache-y. But mostly really, really tired. I think some people use the term exhausted, but I reserve that for parents with small earthlings. Have you seen those people? They’re the definition of exhausted. I can’t compete with that.
Anyway, on my way home from the post office I cried. Not because I was sad, even though I was, and not because I had just reached my breaking point that I think if I had been home I would have taken a stool into my closet and gone to have every single one of those prescriptions filled – but because I felt bad for saying the f-word in front of a woman who was old enough to be my grandmother. Which only displayed my complete and utter lack of respect for a stranger who did nothing to deserve my unfortunate word choice, even if I was offended by the fact that she noticed the bags and dark circles beneath my eyes. Bags and circles I tried so very hard to conceal behind my sunglasses. But I digress, no one deserves to have a f-bomb dropped on them at the post office. And so I cried.

Sweet potato waffles in the making
Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs
Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Before I went home I made a pitstop to have unwanted hairs lasered off of my body. I only did it because I got a deal through Groupon and have always been fascinated by the seemingly magical process that is laser hair removal. I got zapped a few times and went on my way, but not before questioning the lady at the front desk about the fancy lip balm strategically placed at the checkout counter. She said uses them alllll the time and that they’re fantaaastic. She had chapped lips. So she was either lying about using them alllll the time or lying about them being fanataaastic. Either way, I passed up on the opportunity to have lips that taste like sex on the beach and made my way out the door.
Before I could take three steps I was nearly mauled over by a man who was in a hurry to feed the meter. I turned around with every intention of yelling something nasty at him (like, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, ASSWAD!), but then I spotted that lady across the street. The one with the red lips and platinum hair. I ran toward her as fast as I could yelling HEY LADY! WAIT UP! And she watched as I maneuvered across the street; disheveled, flinging my arms around in attempts to keep the contents of my unzipped backpack safe and sound as I tried my best to beat oncoming traffic. And when I got to her I blurted out how sorry I was for improperly using my words and before I could say anything else, before I could tell her how truly awful it made me feel, she grabbed me by the shoulders – hard enough that I let out a yelp – and said, Darling, don’t worry about it. Go home and get some fucking sleep.

Sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs

Notes: Pumpkin, banana, apple, zucchini or any other puree will work in place of sweet potato. You can replace the gluten free flour with all purpose flour, but omit the xanthan gum. If you don’t have xanthan gum on hand, just leave it out – I’ve made them gluten free without it, and the texture difference wasn’t noticeable. If you’re not into cacao nibs you be crazy, feel free to replace them with chocolate chips. Sarah posted a recipe for coffee syrup and I think you should try it. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that I’ve eaten these waffles every day for the past two weeks. They’re good. That good.

Another favorite way to make these waffles: replace 1/2 cup of the flour blend with 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, swap the sweet potato puree with applesauce, and omit the cacao nibs. Top waffles with sliced bananas, a drizzle of full fat coconut milk, cinnamon, pecans, and shredded coconut. They’re perfect for those days that you’re looking for a satisfying breakfast without the sugar high.

SWEET POTATO WAFFLES WITH CACAO NIBS

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sweet potato puree
1 1/2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cacao nibs

Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sweet potato puree, almond milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; whisk until combined. Stir in the cacao nibs.
When the waffle iron is heated, spray it with oil. Cook waffles according to the instruction for your iron. I added a scant 3/4 cup of batter to my iron that makes round 7″ waffles. Serve immideately, topped with with your favorite fruit and real maple syrup. If cooking for a group of people, keep waffles warm in a 225˚F oven – no need to place them on a cookie sheet, just put them straight on the oven racks. Cooked waffles can be kept frozen for up to one month. Break in half and reheat in toaster.

Yield: 5 waffles

Chocolate hazelnut pots de crème

Chocolate hazelnut pots de crème

And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.

And it’s this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.  – Neil Gaiman

Muscovado sugar
Cacao nibs
Chocolate hazelnut pots de crème
Chocolate hazelnut pots de crème

Notes: The hazelnut flavor of the custard is super subtle; if you prefer a stronger hazelnut tone, add an additional tablespoon of hazelnut liqueur. If you don’t have coconut milk, you can substitute equal amounts of soy cream. If using non-dairy milk (almond, soy, etc.) you’ll want to increase the the tapioca starch to 5-6 tablespoons. The best thickener for custards tend to be those of the root variety, so feel free to use potato or arrowroot in place of the tapioca. I used muscovado sugar because it’s super rich and helps to deepen the flavor of the custard, but feel free to use cane sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, etc. If you’d prefer to skip the baking step, knock yourself out. But you’ll still need to refrigerate the custard until set.

The consistency of canned coconut milk varies greatly. If using Thai Kitchen (one of the higher quality coconut milks, in my opinion), you’ll want to boil the mixture for only 5 minutes instead of 10. If using Native Forest, follow the instructions as laid out below. Unfortunately, I have not tested any other coconut milks.

Update: I tried making this with a cheaper variety of dark chocolate and it did not turn out properly. It is important that you use the best quality chocolate you can find – I’ve used Valrhona le Noir 61% chocolate and Whole Foods 56% cacao with great results.

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT POTS DE CRÈME

4 oz good quality dark chocolate
1 3/4 cups full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1 tbsp hazelnut liqueur
3 tbsp tapioca starch

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line the bottom of a shallow baking pan with a small towel; set aside. Chop the chocolate and place it in a large mixing bowl; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the coconut milk, sugar, and hazelnut liqueur; bring to a boil and let rumble for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat, pour over chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes; whisk to combine. Sift in the tapioca starch and whisk vigorously until all clumps have disappeared. To reduce the number of air bubbles (or leftover starch clumps, if any), pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

Divide the creme between four 4 ounce ramekins and place them in the prepared baking pan. Fill the pan with warm water, just until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. If you don’t want a thin layer of “skin” to form atop the custards, cover the pan with foil. However, covered custards will take considerably longer to set. Bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool (room temperature), then chill in fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Top with cacao powder, whipped cream, toasted hazelnuts, and cacao nibs, if desired.

Yield: 4 pots