Marisa and Sonya Osonphasop’s family has a long history working the coconut industry, dating back to the 1930s when they got their start trading whole coconuts. In 1976, they built Thailand’s first coconut milk plant under the name Chef’s Choice Foods Manufacturer Company. It exports canned coconut milk products worldwide to this day, but Sonya and Marisa found new ways to innovate the crop the family has been working with since the first half of the 20th century. Nature’s Charm is the world’s first vegan sweetened condensed coconut milk.
It’s a passion project for the Osonphasops — the family was vegetarian for 23 years and went vegan ten years ago.
“We always managed to find a way to eat yummy food and so we want to show everyone that you can enjoy vegan food without compromising your taste buds,” Marisa tells LIVEKINDLY.
Condensed Coconut Milk
Inspired by their love of food, animals, and the planet, the sisters have innovated new ways to use coconut. For Marisa and Sonya, it’s all about finding the best way to replace animal ingredients with plants.
“We have always loved cooking and baking and our dream is to recreate a veganized version of all the foods we used to love pre-vegan days. We hope that everyone will choose the same cruelty-free way of life,” explains Marisa.
While there are multiple options to choose from for vegan baking for eggs, butter, and milk, the sisters noticed that there were still gaps to fill. In 2014, they introduced the world’s first commercial Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk after two years of product development and 29 versions.
Traditional condensed milk is made by removing the water from cow’s milk and adding sugar, resulting in a thick, gooey texture and sweet, creamy flavor that lends itself well to desserts like caramel and fudge. According to Marisa, the product helps “complete bakers’ dreams”
“We have so many happy messages from customers telling us this is a total game changer and that they have been able to make and enjoy the desserts they haven’t had since turning vegan,” says Marisa.
Nature’s Charm’s Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk has the same versatility as the real thing, without the dairy. Making vegan fudge, Marisa’s favorite, is as simple as combining one can of Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk with a melted block of dark chocolate, then allowing it to set. According to Marisa, it’s a customer favorite.
It’s also the finishing touch for magic cookie bars — also called seven layer bars — an indulgent dessert consisting of a buttery graham cracker crust topped with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and toasted coconut.
“We receive lots happy comments from families that are now able to make treats for a family member who is allergic to dairy,” says Marisa. “Many customers tell us they eat it with a spoon!”
Evaporated Coconut Milk
In 2015, the sisters followed it up with another specialty baking ingredient, Evaporated Coconut Milk. Like condensed milk, traditional evaporated milk has 60 percent of the water removed, leaving a rich texture. But, it’s free from sugar.
The Evaporated Coconut Milk is popular for bingsu or patbingsu, a Korean dessert consisting of fluffy shaved ice topped with chopped fruit, sweet syrup, red beans, and dairy condensed milk. Thai tea, a sweet tea brewed with strong Ceylon tea mixed with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, makes use of both products.
Another new sweet product is set to launch by the end of the year, but according to Marisa, it’s staying under wraps. But, she hinted, “it will be a very delicious coconut-based treat.”
It’s the positive feedback that keeps the sisters motivated to innovate new products that are challenging to find on the market. The brand created coconut whipping cream, made from full-fat coconut cream, virgin coconut oil, and a hint of vanilla. It’s also as easy to use as chilling the box, pouring it into a metal bowl, and whipping it up.
Customers sometimes even teach them new things about their products.
“Thanks to our customers, I learned that we can create a very simple no churn vegan ice cream by mixing 1 can of sweetened condensed coconut milk and 3 cans of coconut whipping cream together,” says Marisa. “I never thought making a delicious creamy ice cream could be this easy, without an ice cream maker.”
Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are key ingredients in many desserts, such as tres leches cake, a Spanish sponge cake soaked in three types of milk. While plant-based milk can be substituted, the end result is lacking the creamy consistency brought on by condensed milk’s thick texture. The recipe below makes use of all three of Nature’s Charm’s signature products.
- 1 3/4 cups nondairy milk
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ⅔ cup aquafaba (from 1-2 cans chickpeas)
- ⅔ cup melted coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons melted vegan butter
- DRY INGREDIENTS:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- 1½ cups cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- MILK SOAK:
- 1 can Nature's Charm sweetened condensed coconut milk
- 1 can Nature's Charm evaporated coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- 4 cups Nature's Charm coconut whipping cream (prepared)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, halved and stems removed
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9" by 13" baking dish. Combine the milk, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside to thicken.
- With a hand or stand mixer and balloon attachment, beat the aquafaba until you achieve stiff peaks, about 6-7 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk thoroughly until evenly mixed and all lumps are gone. Add the melted coconut oil and vegan butter to the dry ingredients. Change the mixer attachment from the balloon to the regular mixer. On high speed, mix the melted fats with the flour mixture until you have an evenly grainy texture. Slowly add the milk and mix until combined.
- You will have a very thin and pourable cake batter. From there, GENTLY fold in the whipped aquafaba into the batter. Mix gently until evenly combined but do not over mix or the cake won't rise properly.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake lightly springs back in the center when touched.
- Meanwhile, combine the condensed coconut milk, evaporated coconut milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir and bring to a light boil, then remove from heat.
- When the cake is done cooking, place it on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes. Using a thin chopstick or 2-3 toothpicks, poke holes over the cake, at least every inch or so.
- Pour the warm condensed milk mixture over the cake. Cover and place in the fridge for 4 hours but ideally overnight to let the cake soak up the milks.
- When the milk has mostly soaked into the cake, cover the cake with a thin layer of coconut whipped cream. If the cake still has a layer of liquid on top, the easiest way to place the whipped cream is to cover the edges first, then add dollops of cream all over the cake, and gently spread it out to cover. Place the halved strawberries over the cake. Chill for another 10-15 minutes to set the whipped cream then slice and serve!
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