Latik – Cooking Magic with Coconut Milk

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Latik, a Filipino dessert topping, is made by cooking down coconut milk or coconut cream (the more solid stuff on the top of a can of coconut milk) for hours until it separates into fried coconut curds (latik) and coconut oil.

Making latik is like putting coconut milk into a magic hat, saying, “Abracadabra,” and pulling out an amazing toasted hybrid of brown sugar and desiccated coconut.

Latik on a spoon

Although I still marvel at sugar turning to sweet, sticky caramel, egg whites tripling in size to become fluffy meringue, and heavy whipping cream turning into pipable clouds of frosting, I’ve seen these kitchen tricks so many times that I need to stop and remind myself to not take them for granted. But, when I first saw a photo of latik, I may as well have been at a David Copperfield show.

“Coconut milk can turn into that?” I marveled. I had no idea!

Latik is ideal for sprinkling on ice cream and sorbet (in the image above, I topped mango sorbet with latik). It’s commonly used in Biko (sweet rice cakes) to give it shot of rich coconut flavor and it is wonderful as a topping on cakes and cupcakes. Also, you can use the byproduct (the coconut oil) for cooking or baking.

Latik may not be something that you’ll make every day, but if like me you love exploring new feats of culinary wonderment, it’s worth making at least once.

How to Make Latik

Ingredients

You just need one ingredient: a 14 oz can of coconut milk. Be sure to choose the full-fat kind with the cream on top.

Process

Bring a can of coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan and simmer gently over low heat while stirring periodically to prevent burning.

Continue to simmer until the milk reduces to a thick cream, about an hour. You can eliminate some of this hour by using only the coconut cream (the solid part on top of the can). However, you won’t end up with quite as much latik.

Continue heating and stirring periodically until the cream separates into coconut oil and latik – about 45 minutes.

Coconut milk just beginning to seperate
Monitor it closely, watching for it to turn a deep caramel brown color – about 30 minutes.

Latik browning
Turn the heat off as soon as the curds turn a deep caramel brown color.

Latik completed
Use a coffee filter or a fine sieve to separate the coconut oil from the latik.

Latik lasts for several days on the counter or a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

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Latik on a spoon
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5 from 4 votes

Latik

Latik, a Filipino dessert topping, is made by cooking down coconut milk or coconut cream for hours until it separates into fried coconut curds (latik) and coconut oil. It's an amazing cross that tastes like brown sugar and dessicated coconut.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Filipino
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 19kcal
Author Stefani

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces coconut milk be sure to choose the full-fat kind with the cream on top

Instructions

  • Bring coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan.
  • Simmer gently over low heat while stirring periodically to prevent burning.
  • Continue to simmer until the milk reduces to a thick cream, about an hour.
  • Continue heating and stirring periodically until the cream separates into coconut oil and latik - about 45 minutes.
  • Monitor the latik closely, watching for it to turn a deep caramel brown color - about 30 minutes.
  • Turn the heat off as soon as the curds turn a deep caramel brown color.
  • Use a coffee filter or a fine sieve to separate the coconut oil from the latik.

Notes

It yields about 1/4 cup for latik. It's not much, but you don't need to use a lot of it to make a big impact.
This process will take less time if you use only the coconut cream (the solid part on top of the can).  However, you won't end up with quite as much latik.
Latik lasts for several days on the counter or a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
I got the technique for making latik from Jun Belen of Jun-Blog.  The photographs on his site are fabulous and worth checking out for additional reference.

Nutrition

Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 21mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg
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10 comments on “Latik – Cooking Magic with Coconut Milk”

  1. Davis @ Nutiva Coconut Oilsays:

    These are great recipes. Always looking for food to add coconut to.

  2. Pamsays:

    This looks delicious! I love crunchy on top of my ice cream! Do you suppose this might work with homemade coconut milk? To the kitchen!

  3. Joysays:

    5 stars
    Great job on the latik. I finaly got it right myself but I tend to burn mine :D

  4. ajasays:

    how wonderful! Do you have any sense of the sugar content in this? I can’t have sugar :-(

  5. Heidi @ Food Doodlessays:

    5 stars
    That is so cool! I never knew about that either. I’m going to give it a try for sure!

  6. Anonymoussays:

    i love latik. i eat it without biko. hehe

  7. Katsays:

    I love a well done latik. Sometimes if it’s left too long it starts to taste bitter rather than sweet. It’s a great topping for ice cream indeed! Even on it’s own, it’s quite good.

  8. Daniela@Isreviewsays:

    5 stars
    Wow that is super cool never would have thought of doing that to coconut milk but now I am intrigued:) thanks

  9. Jun Belensays:

    Wow! Thank you for the mention. I’m so thrilled you discovered latik. Isn’t it neat? I grew up with latik on rice cakes but it really is splendid with ice cream. Maybe a cupcake topping? Cheers! -Jun

  10. Tug's Girlsays:

    I love this and have a can of coconut milk in my pantry that now has a purpose. I wonder if it would work in a crock pot? Perhaps another experiment in the making.

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