Berries + Coconut Cream Granola Parfaits — the easiest summer dessert, perfect for entertaining (and light enough for breakfast, too) featuring an easy homemade granola and whipped coconut cream. Gluten-free and vegan.
Hey friends! It’s finally feeling like summer here in the Bay Area (we had three consecutive days of sun in Half Moon Bay, which is just about unheard of in June!), so I figured it was high time I join the rest of the Western Hemisphere in making the most of the season. This fresh fruit dessert is one of my favorite things to serve after a meal on a warm day. It’s easy to make in advance, assembles in minutes and is unexpectedly delicious despite its simplicity. (If you haven’t gathered from these Garlicky White Beans or this Go-To Green Blender Juice, simple wins with me every time.)
Easiest Summer Dessert Recipe
Berries + Coconut Cream Granola Parfaits
That said, when something is this simple in concept, the execution of each element is kinda clutch. To start, there’s the fruit, duh. Fresh berries star here, but later in the summer, juicy stone fruit would be amazing, too.
Then there’s the coconut cream. If you’ve not made coconut cream before, 1) it’s easy as heck, so long as 2) you choose the right coconut milk. We’re going for canned coconut milk here — not the carton stuff that’s meant for cereal and coffee — and we want full fat. The light stuff won’t whip, and really, we’re disguising fruit as dessert, so let’s not cut any more corners than we have to. Look for coconut milk with three ingredients, max: coconut milk, water and guar gum. (I know gums can seem questionable, but honestly, you’ll experience a better consistency from coconut milk with guar gum.) Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s variety of canned coconut milk products have been waxy and just off in recent years, so I wouldn’t recommend them, but Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk is easy to come by and has worked well for me in this application. (If nothing else, it’s available on Prime Pantry — easy peasy.)
Once you’ve got your coconut milk, refrigerate that shit in the can for at least 24 hours, and you’re good to go. Pop off the top, scoop out the solidified coconut milk (pour out and reserve any liquid for a smoothie or another application) and get to whipping. I use this hand mixer, but a stand mixer would do, too (and if I had to recommend one over the other, the stand mixer is a bigger investment but also a much bigger workhorse). Then, for a coconut cream that really gives the dairy stuff a run for its money, whip in a little powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and — wait for it — a good glug of olive oil. If you’re calorie-conscious you’re gonna ask if you can omit this, and I’m gonna begrudgingly say yes, but guys: I’m flavor-conscious, and the olive oil is key to replicating the subtle savoriness of dairy cream — and it simultaneously tames the coconut flavor, itself. Also, it’s really, really delicious.
Now for the third element: the granola! I tend to be pretty particular about my granola, and this homemade Oat-Free Coconut Almond Granola is worth the extra step. It’s oat-free, meaning all of the good stuff, none of the filler. It’s oil-free, because I’ve already convinced you to put the oil in the whipped cream — ha! And it’s refined sugar-free, which means you can let your kids pop it by the handful in very good conscience. A blend of salted, roasted nuts, seeds and coconut lacquered together with maple syrup and a hefty dash of cinnamon, this stuff is chock fulla protein and pure snack happiness. And because I promised you easy, it comes together in 5 mins. and bakes up in 20. We make up a batch almost every weekend and it makes its way into yogurt, salads and snack boxes all week long. Perhaps the biggest bonus of all: your house will smell incredible while it bakes. Dessert and an air freshener in one? YEZPLZ.
Obviously this dessert would be perfect for a Fourth of July situation, what with the patriotic color combo and all, but we’re pulling it out for a Father’s Day BBQ this weekend — and, full disclosure, we’ve even let it pass as breakfast a couple of mornings in a row, much to the googly-eyed wonder of our 4-year-old. (The coconut cream can be refrigerated once it’s whipped — just give it a quick stir before serving if it firms up.)
- 2-3 cups fresh seasonal berries -- we used sliced strawberries, blueberries and blackberries
- 1 can full fat coconut milk, well chilled for at least 24 hours (see note)
- 2 T powdered sugar
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
- Oat-Free Coconut Almond Granola, or favorite store-bought granola of choice
- mint garnish, optional
- Chill coconut milk in the refrigerator at least 24 hours before serving.
- Open coconut milk and scoop solidified coconut cream into a large bowl (pour off and reserve any remaining liquid for another use).
- Using a stand mixeror hand mixer, whip coconut cream until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, olive oil and salt and whip again until combined. (At this point, whipped coconut cream can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days -- stir or lightly re-whip before use.)
- Layer berries, whipped coconut cream and granola in serving glasses. Garnish with mint, if desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Regarding the coconut milk: we're going for canned coconut milk here -- not the carton stuff that's meant for cereal and coffee -- and we want full fat. Look for coconut milk with three ingredients, max: coconut milk, water and guar gum. (I know gums can seem questionable, but honestly, you'll experience a better consistency from coconut milk with guar gum.) Unfortunately, Trader Joe's variety of canned coconut milk products have been waxy and just off in recent years, so I wouldn't recommend them, but Thai Kitchen brand coconut milk is easy to come by and has worked well for me in this application.
Regarding the granola: The Oat-Free Coconut Almond Granola takes about 45 mins to make and cool completely, so if you're going the route of homemade (which I highly recommend!), plan accordingly. (It can also be made up to a week in advance and kept in an airtight container until ready to use.)
Guys! Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into our life on the Northern California coast. And if you feel so inclined, pop over to my personal food + lifestyle blog, The Pig & Quill, where I share salty scribblings from my kitchen and home life. Byeeeeee!
This one’s for the Pinners!