Material Handling: Coconut Nectar

Category: Pastry & Baking

In this issue, Julie and Jimmy MacMillan explore coconut-derived sugars and applications.


In the true spirit of our Material Handling concept, we are inspired to work with as many forms of an ingredient as we can find. This month we look at coconut sugars. Coconut is not a true nut, but rather a ‘drupe’ with a hard, stony covering surrounding the seed. While we find coconut milk and flesh refreshing and delicious, we have made some of the coconut sap products staples in our sweet pantry as well.

Coconut nectar is the naturally sweet sap that exudes from the coconut blossoms. Coconut vinegar is unheated coconut nectar aged and fermented for up to a year. These items can be obtained from Coconut Secret ( Coconut Palm Sugar is coconut sap or nectar that is heated to evaporate the liquid. The remaining solid is granulated coconut palm sugar. We use coconut palm sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners (

Executive Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan’s dessert featuring pistachio cake, apricot toffee cream, apricot compote, toffee tuiles and candied pistachios. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.
Executive Pastry Chef Jimmy MacMillan’s dessert featuring coconut custard, coconut shortbread, coconut simple syrup and exotic fruits in coconut syrup. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

Why use coconut-derived sugars? Aside from a very clean and pleasant light molasses taste, cane sugar is 50% fructose and coconut sugars contain less than 5% fructose, making it attractive to our customers on some ‘alternative’ diets. Coconut sugar contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron and B-vitamins, and is lower on the glycemic index than white sugar. Buying organic coconut sugar ensures that your product hasn’t come in contact with any chemicals or pesticides. We’ve included Julie’s excellent recipe for Coconut Caramels, which uses seven coconut products to make a dark, chewy caramel. Working with this ratio will acquaint the chef with the way coconut derived sugars interact in a recipe.

Pastry Chef Julie MacMillan’s dessert featuring coconut caramels. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

Two composed desserts contrast the use of coconut flesh and coconut sap ingredients which can be used to achieve a clean sweetness. The Coconut Custard is a traditional use of noix de coco (puree), desiccated coconut and young coconut strands. More to the point of this article, Pistachio cake, apricot compote, toffee tuiles uses coconut nectar, coconut palm sugar and coconut vinegar to enhance the times triumvirate of pistachio, apricot and caramel.

As always, the best way to grow your repertoire is to experiment with new ingredients, thereby creating new ways of cooking and new ways of ‘seeing’ our craft.


Find 'Material Handling: Flowers, Herbs, and Leaves' recipes in the Recipe section or click the links below.


Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry
Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.

Any trends or inspirations you’d like to see in the Material Handling spotlight? Email Jimmy and Julie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

JMPurePastry is a Chicago-based pastry solutions group specializing in high quality, well designed products for the restaurant, baking and hospitality industry. The duo is also responsible for the multiple Emmy® Award-winning Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition video series. For more information, visit