Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches


A couple of weeks ago a Japanese friend invited me for a lunch which ended with a most sensational light dessert. Actually her coconut cream was one of the lightest desserts I have ever had in my life, in terms of both calories and texture and certainly one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.  Luckily the recipe wasn’t secret! I did hesitate however before making it because it called for agar-agar, a product which brings back awful memories. Since I had been assured the preparation was simple, I gave agar-agar another chance. The cream was very easy indeed and the result was perfect at the first attempt.

Agar-agar (“kanten” in Japanese), apparently meaning “jelly” in Malay, is a gelatinous substance obtained from certain seaweed varieties, usually sold in a form of powder or (in Asian countries) in long sticks. Even though it has been used by food industry all around the world, it is rarely used in European households, gelatin being the most popular gelling agent. It has been gaining popularity probably thanks to its vegetable origins and to its health benefits. In fact agar-agar contains water soluble agents, which help digestion and are considered excellent in slimming diets. Even though some people say agar-agar is a gelatin equivalent, I cannot agree with it.

As I have recently told Charles (Five Euro Food) in my opinion food set with agar-agar is different and someone who is used only to gelatin has to experiment a bit with it on order to obtain satisfying results. This is my first successful dish with agar agar, but certainly not the last because somehow I feel I couldn’t obtain the same results with gelatin. The cream has a very delicate consistency, close to natural yogurt . Since both coconut and cow milk are used, the coconut taste is not overwhelming. In short, an addictive, elegant and refreshing dessert.

Prepared with canned peaches and canned coconut milk, this quick cream is a perfect solution for a last-minute, pantry-based dessert served practically all year round. I find it particularly good now, since we are having very warm sunny Spring. My friend served it with fresh mango and I think any fruit (apart from raw kiwi and raw pineapple) can be used. I am impatient to test it with strawberries!

TIPS: Look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is said to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package.

Do not wait until the cream becomes cold before pouring it into the bowls because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!

Preparation: 15 minutes + 2-3 hours in the fridge

Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):

250 ml/about 1 cup coconut milk

250 ml/about 1 cup cow milk 

4 tablespoons sugar (I have put only 2 but I like moderately sweet desserts)

1/3 flat teaspoon agar agar in powder 

4 – 5 halves of canned peaches

Dissolve the sugar and agar-agar in the mixture of the two milks. Bring to boil and, constantly stirring, let it simmer for about a minute.

Put aside.

Prepare four individual bowls or low glasses.

(Do not wait until the cream becomes cold because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!).

Cut up the peaches into cubes and distribute into the bowls (one half per bowl).

Pour the creamy mixture over the fruit pieces and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Serve very cold.

43 Replies to “Light Coconut Cream with Canned Peaches”

  1. This looks simple and delicious. I haven’t tried such a dessert.
    I find it interesting when I see ingredients from different climate zones – coconut is tropical and peaches are from colder climates. Such combinations are not very common, I think. Strawberry/coconut, pineapple/strawberry, mango/apple

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I haven’t even thought that peaches are not exotic and coconut is… I thought the cans were the thing they have in common (and a very practical one!). I must see if strawberry and coconut go well together or maybe I’ll slightly modify the recipe…

  2. Oooh, more coconutty stuff! This reminds me of the local version here using honeydew melon. I have to make this … I can just taste it already! Great dessert for our crazy hot weather now! Thanks, Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, Ping. We are having quite warm days here (almost 20°C) so such a dessert is really welcome but I’ll certainly be making it more often in the Summer. I’m sure you would like it (actually I made it with leftover coconut milk from your cake that my husband asked for once more 😉 ).

  3. The title alone has me swooning… coconut and peaches… ahhh, bring it on! And how interesting with the agar-agar. I’ve never used it (tend to use gelatin in dessert or cornstarch) and am not really familiar with it. Sounds like some experimenting may be required but what a success you had with this one. Your dessert looks and sounds wonderful – light, creamy and coconut spring delicious! :). Thanks Sissi.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I also use gelatin or cornstarch, but it was fun to finally have a good result with agar-agar. Apparently Japanese women dissolve agar-agar in green tea when they want to get slimmer (it is supposed to cut hunger). Here it’s very popular among vegetarians and people who try to eat healthier (several different brands and package sizes are sold in organic shops).
      I think it’s risky to experiment with agar-agar without any previous successful, foolproof recipes, so I’m happy to have this one as a basis.

  4. Your description of this dessert has my mouth watering…and it sounds wonderful with both peaches and strawberries! I don’t know which I’d choose first~

  5. I was going to say the same thing as Liz… your description make this dessert so special and I want to have it. My mom used to use kanten (I didn’t know agar-agar is same as kanten) for dessert but I have never used it to make dessert by myself (well you know dessert and me). Sounds like you will be eating this a lot. 😉 Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you, Nami. My Japanese friend also said it’s widely used in Japan. This dessert was really very easy and so light, I felt no guilt at all 😉 Have a great weekend too!

  6. This sounds like the perfect dessert to have after a heavy main course. I have heard of agar but have not cooked with it. It would be good to try it and see how it compares with gelatin.

    1. Thank you, Charlie. You are totally right. This dessert feels so light, it would be great as a refreshing treat after a heavy meal. It’s a bit different from gelatin and I think it was perfect here.

  7. I have been intrigued with Agar Agar for a while, but not tried using it. This looks like the perfect dessert for experimenting with. Particularly if it has such a delicious outcome. GG

    1. Thank you, GG (ooops, sorry 😉 ). I am happy I have managed a successful dish after several failed experiments.

  8. Hehe, how weird that we were just talking about this the other day and now you post this?! It looks absolutely delicious – and I think I can have a good idea of the taste, although I’m not sure if I can picture the texture – you call it a cream, so I guess it was smooth, like a yoghurt, instead of being firmer, like a mousse, right?

    I’m surprised that you said it was the most calorie-light dessert you’ve had. I’ve always found anything involving coconut milk to be a real danger on the calorie-scale, which is a shame because I could just drink that stuff like there’s no tomorrow 😀

    1. charles, though coconut milk is high in calories and sat fat, it’s high in a kind of sat fat that actually increases your metabolism and its fatty acid profile is similar to that of mother’s milk (the only other source i hear), high in good things like lauric acid (: so go ahead and drink it like there’s no tomorrow(:

      1. Thank you, Shuhan. I didn’t know this! I thought it was not very bad, but not good either…

    2. Thank you, Charles. I had to call it cream, because I couldn’t find any other name… The texture is really like the one of a thick yogurt, very light, falling off the spoon slightly.
      Maybe I have exaggerated; it was one of the lowest calorie desserts, but still a very light one! It is light because the coconut milk is cut with cow milk (half-half), so unless you use a super fat cow milk, the calorie content per portion is low (I used low fat milk). This way also the taste is not too coconutty and doesn’t hide the peaches. On the other hand, if other fruits are used (with a stronger taste and aroma, like mango) I can totally imagine it 100% coconut milk (but then of course more calories).

    3. I have updated this post 😉 You have reminded me my fruit mousses and cold unbaked cheesecakes are equally light, so this is not number one! Thank you.
      I have forgotten to tell you that actually if it wasn’t for our conversation I would probably post this dessert some time in the Summer, but this way I thought it a funny surprise 😉 For now this is my only successful agar agar dessert but I hope to experiment more before hot days come. It’s so nice to have inspiration and new ideas not only from posts but from exchange of views in comments 🙂

  9. love it! it might be because I grew up in singapore, agar agar was more common than jelly (made from gelatin), and while chefs all laud the “new” setting agent agar, gelatin was more of a novelty for me. trying to envision thisnow, or heck, maybe I should just make it. I love coconut, might een go for all-coconut.

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. For me this dessert felt at once very Asian, not only because of agar agar but because of the light – but not “moussy”- texture that cannot be obtained with gelatin (at least I have never seen anything like this) and of course because of the coconut milk. Agar agar has been in fashion for several years now, so it must be funny for those who, like you, are used to it all their life.

    1. Hi, Karen. I suppose, just like me in my previous experiments, people assume agar-agar is a gelatin replacement and this is how catastrophes arrive. Agar-agar is easy to use (maybe even easier than gelatin), but it differs from gelatin in both preparation and results, so a foolproof recipe given by a friend is the best way to start using it 🙂

  10. Lovely dessert Sissi, I should start making these after all the chocolate 🙂 I’m also very curious about the texture. Everything I have so far made with agar agar ended up with kind of a rubbery jelly, but maybe I have been too heavy handed with it…

    1. Hi, Gourmantine. Thank you for the compliment. I have had similar experience to yours, but this recipe convinced me it is a wonderful product when used in very small amounts and when not treated as a gelatin substitute, but a different gelling agent. This thick yogurt texture is something I have never obtained with gelatin and I love it.

  11. Sissi, we are on the same wave length at the moment. First it was bananas and now it is coconuts. I just posted on a very simple coconut and kahlua flavour combination inspired by my trip to Mexico. Given my love of coconut I’m inspired by your dessert as well. It sounds silky smooth and delicious. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for agar agar (which sounds Indonesian to me!)

    1. Thank you, Barb. This dessert is not only delicious, but also very light (half cow milk, half coconut milk), not to mention the easiness… Here agar-agar is sold in every supermarket, but the biggest choice can be found in organic shops. Maybe it’s the same in your area? Apparently it comes from Malaysian word meaning “jelly” 😉 so you were not far!
      I’m hopping to see your drink! It sounds very intriguing.

  12. Sissi, this one looks delightful and is so simple to make. I am always tempted to buy coconut milk but alas I don’t have a recipe to use it. I have everything except the coconut milk. Very tempting. I can hardly wait to try this.

    1. Thank you so much, Zsuzsa. I have actually used half a coconut milk can for this cream and almost half a can for the moist coconut cake ( I’m sure you can whip up both in five minutes 😉
      The leftovers are great to add as a sauce to any stir-fried dish or to any soup, instead of normal cream.

  13. Dear Sissi,

    Agar-agar does mean jelly in Malay or Indonesian and a very popular dessert in those countries. I also prefer cooking with light coconut cream in curries. I have not had canned peaches for many years when a retro favourite of restaurants in the old days was peach melba 🙂

    1. Thank you for the confirmation. Here agar-agar is still a big mystery 😉 I always have a can of peaches just in case I want a quick dessert with fruit and have no fresh fruit. Canned peaches is the only canned fruit I adore.

    1. Thank you so much, Martyna. Luckily for once I sticked to my friend’s recipe because usually I am tempted to modify things. I hope you can try it.

  14. Hi Sissi!

    I am actualy confused if I had agar agar in any of the dishes I have eaten before. Some jello packets here show a green or red circle for veg and non veg. if its green iguesse it can only be agar agar since they use it a lots in india. These days I am trying to stay away from “real”gelatin, I kind of dislike the taste of it all of a sudden, but your dessert is realy making me drool. Lovely idea with the peaches and coconut milk. I d go nuts for such a dessert!! Thanks for sharing, thats going into my recipebox.

    1. Thank you so much, Helene. The vegetarian thickened dishes can also contain pectin, but if agar agar is frequent in India, it might be this of course. Even in Europe agar agar is very often used in food industry.

  15. Kokos i brzoskwinie? Bardzo ciekawa kombinacja (nawet jesli nie przepadam za ‘zelatynowymi’ deserami, to i tak chetnie bym sprobowala :)).

    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!

    1. Dzieki, Bea. Nie ma tu zelatyny! Wlasnie dlatego bylo pyszne, bo taka konsystencja jak jogurt… (Pierwszy raz udalo mi sie z agar agar cos zrobic dobrego). Z zelatyna nie da sie takiej konsystencji otrzymac moim zdaniem.

  16. Dlatego napisalam wlasnie w cudzyslowie, gdyz czesto konsystencja z agarem byla dla mnie podobna do tej z zelatyna, ale moze chodzi tez o ilosc dodanego agaru? Jesli mowisz, ze konsystencja prawie ze jogurtowa, to moze i ja sie kiedys skusze! 🙂

    1. Aha! Rozumiem 🙂 Ja nienawidze galaretek wszelkiego typu, ale masz racje, tutaj bylo bardzo malutko agaru i naprawde konsystencja jogurtowa.

  17. Agar agar is a VERY common ingredient among vegans since we do not use gelatin. We can’t understand why people uses gelatine when agar agar is a much better option in every way.

    1. Hi Susy. I suppose it’s out of habit… Agar is quite recent in European shops and cooking habits don’t change quickly. Moreover, as a carnivore I use both on purpose. I had been using gelatin for years before I started to use agar and I don’t think it gives the same results in every dish.

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