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Coconut-Sweetened or Not?

I recently made a cake with shredded coconut. Many times recipes do not indicate whether to use sweetened or unsweetened. What is the best to use? What is your favorite recipe with coconut?

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  1. In America, if a baking or dessert recipe doesn't specify, it means sweetened. It would be very rare to call for unsweetened. I love coconut sweets but don't have a favorite recipe. I like to sub light coconut milk for water in jello, and for milk in custardy applications.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I would have never thought to use for jello, thank you!

      1. re: greygarious

        That is a super idea about the jello! I have a recipe I'm making that calls for 1/3c, so I've been pondering what to make with the rest. I actually like jello and just got a jello mold I want to try out!

      2. Generally, sweetened is used in sweet dishes like dessert and unsweetened is used in savory dishes like a curry.

        1 Reply
        1. I can't stand sweetened coconut (to me it's like eating sugar straight out of the bag), so I always, always use unsweetened.

          8 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            Me too. I can control the amount of sugar and I think there is more coconut flavor.

            I like rice and coconut puddings well coconut cake with lime curd filling and coconut frosting.

            1. re: sunshine842

              Same here. I use unsweetened in recipes that call for sweetened without a problem. As has been discussed many times here, a lot of dessert recipes can benefit from a reduction in sugar. As a matter of fact, I'm planning on trying this recipe today:

              http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

              1. re: cookie monster

                Oh, I remember that old-timey-delicious recipe! I used to like it with pecans in the topping. Yum.

                1. re: sandylc

                  Yes I made it with pecans rather than walnuts - I'm mildly allergic to walnuts - and it was a big hit. Had to bake it for closer to 40 minutes but otherwise I followed the Serious Eats recipe as is.

                  1. re: cookie monster

                    FWIW, the SE version has some significant differences from the CI one, which is probably its source. It uses 1/2 cup of white sugar but otherwise is the same as this: http://thebittenword.typepad.com/theb... They stress that it is important NOT to use rolled oats, because quick oats create a much better texture.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Hmmm. I used rolled oats and quite liked the texture.

                  2. re: sunshine842

                    I don't use it often. I made a Queen Elizabeth cake last week and the only coconut I had was sweetened, the recipe called for unsweetened. It was mixed in with a fudge topping, it was too sweet. I never know which one to buy. I guess I should have read the recipe beforehand.

                  3. Half and half for most desserts.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: Ruthie789

                        toasting unsweetened coconut really brings up the natural sugars. i cannot stand the sweetened kind.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I am learning from this thread, will try the unsweetened in my baking from now on.

                          1. re: Ruthie789

                            it's all a matter of preference. typically i don't care for commercial baked goods that contain coconut because i find them achingly sweet and that's from the bakery or restaurant using sweetened flakes.

                    1. I like Baker's Angel Flake sweetened coconut. My favorite recipe to make with it is Mounds brownies, followed closely by Mounds gelato. Just call me the coconut kid.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        For some reason although I do a lot of baking, I do not use much coconut. I am going to try the cake that was posted earlier in this thread, today in fact.