If you’re anything like me, then sweets cravings are a daily occurrence. So I love discovering desserts that pair satisfaction with nutrition, like these dairy-free coconut cream pie parfaits! They are simple, just sweet enough, and use everyday ingredients, but definitely fulfill. And I’ve provided all types of options for customizing them to taste!
Dairy-Free Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits with Options for All
This recipe was originally created by the chefs at Dole, and shared with us for an after school treat. But we have adapted it slightly and also have several recipe tips and options in the FAQs below.
What is Coconut Milk Beverage?
It is the “coconut milk” sold in larger cartons that is intended for replacing milk as a drink, over cereal, and in recipes. It usually says “drink” or “beverage” on the front of the package. It’s much thinner than regular coconut milk, which is sold in cans.
Can I Use Almond or Oat Milk instead of Coconut?
It depends. First, if you use another type of milk alternative, it won’t be as coconutty. Second, coconut milk beverage is on the rich side, and tends to perform well in puddings. The richness and performance of other types of milk beverages will vary. So they might work, but you could have difficulty with the thickening process with another type. I can’t make any guarantees!
Can I Use Canned Coconut Milk?
You definitely can! Use light canned coconut milk for a creamier finish or full-fat canned coconut milk for maximum richness. It will set up more in the refrigerator if you use canned coconut milk. If you want to keep the dessert light, you can simply water down your coconut milk! Use 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk + 2/3 cup water.
What Can I Substitute for the Cornstarch?
You can substitute arrowroot starch or tapioca starch for the cornstarch. Or, for a starch-free option, use good quality, full-fat canned coconut milk or coconut cream instead of milk beverage. Refrigerate the dairy-free coconut cream pie parfaits for an hour, and they will thicken naturally.
Can I Use a Different Sweetener?
You can! Most types of sugar – granulated or liquid – will work great. Sugar-free sweeteners might perform differently when cooked. So make sure it is a sweetener that is made for cooking if going the added sugar-free route.
How Can I Make Banana-Free Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits?
Not a fan of banana? Not to worry! It adds some sweetness and thickness to the recipe without need for more sugar and fat. But it can easily be substituted. In fact, I have a few options! You could use pureed mango or pumpkin puree for a different flavor spin. If using pumpkin, I would increase the sweetener a little, to taste. You could omit the banana, and increase the milk alternative to 1 1/3 cups and the starch to 3 tablespoons. Or, you can use 1 1/3 cups full-fat canned coconut milk in place of the milk alternative and banana for a pure coconut flavor. You don’t need to increase the starch if using the latter option.
Can I use Coconut Oil instead of Butter Alternative?
You definitely can! I would add a pinch of salt if you swap in coconut oil. Coconut oil also solidifies just below room temperature, so these dairy-free coconut cream pie parfaits will thicken quite a bit if you refrigerate them.
Where Can I Find Dairy-Free Graham Crackers?
Most brands of graham crackers are dairy-free by ingredients. They just aren’t typically vegan since many of them contain honey. Nevertheless, a few brands do add milk ingredients, like whey. So always double check the ingredients!
Where Can I Find Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Graham Crackers?
There are a few great brands on the market. Most natural food stores carry an option, but you can always order them online if you can’t find them in your local area. Kinnikinnick and Nairn’s have good options. In a pinch, you can use your favorite dairy-free gluten-free cookies. Or you can grind nuts (such as almonds or pecans) into a fine meal and toss them with the buttery spread and a little granulated sweetener for the base.
Shouldn’t I Temper the Eggs?
It’s not needed! You can learn more in my easy dairy-free custard recipe. But simply put, tempering eggs is only needed if you are adding the eggs to a hot liquid, such as milk alternative simmered with vanilla bean. You can add them right from the start, with cool ingredients, and whisk continuously to help them cook seamlessly.
My Pudding Didn’t Thicken! What Happened?
Make sure you do a few things. Heat the mixture to a simmer / low boil, and cook it at that boil for 2 to 3 minutes, but no longer. If you cook it for too long once bubbling, the starch will start to break down. If you didn’t bring the mixture to a full simmer, you will need to cook it for a couple minutes longer. Then, it must cool completely at room temperature before covering. If they are warm at all, and you cover them, the residual heat can cause the starch to break down. Finally, if you refrigerate them (uncovered or cooled and covered) they will set up more. If yours did break down, you can add more starch to the mixture and heat it again.
My Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits look a little Brown. What Happened?
Banana oxidizes and browns once exposed to air. It still tastes good and is safe, so don’t worry! For the best look, serve these dairy-free coconut cream pie parfaits immediately.
Special Diet Notes: Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, and vegetarian. Just be sure to use dairy-free butter alternative and graham crackers that suit your dietary needs.
For egg-free and vegan coconut cream pie parfaits, I’d get a little more creative. You could omit the eggs and add another banana for a heavier banana vibe. You could increase the coconut milk beverage to 1 1/2 cups and the starch to 3 tablespoons. You could use chia eggs in place of the eggs. Or, you could use 1 can of regular, full-fat coconut milk in place of the coconut milk beverage and eggs. With the latter option, you’ll need to allow time to refrigerate the coconut cream pie parfaits. They will set up more as they cool.
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 large eggs (see above the recipe for egg-free options)
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 2 tablespoons dairy-free buttery spread, divided
- 2 sheets dairy-free graham crackers (use gluten-free, if needed)
- Toast the coconut in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant, stirring frequently. Transfer the toasted coconut to a plate to cool.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, and starch until the starch is dissolved. Whisk in the eggs.
- Place the pan over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. Simmer it for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened, whisking constantly. It will thicken more as it cools.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the banana, 1 tablespoon buttery spread, and ¼ cup of the toasted coconut.
- Let the coconut cream pie filling cool completely.
- Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of buttery spread.
- Pulse the crackers in a food processor until small crumbs remain. Add the melted buttery spread and pulse until combined.
- Divide the graham cracker mixture into 8 (4-ounce) glasses (about 1 tablespoon per glass). Gently press the mixture into the bottom of the glasses. Top with the coconut cream-banana mixture (about ¼ cup per glass), and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of toasted coconut.
- Enjoy warm or refrigerate until ready to serve.