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Jun 15, 2010 11:59 AM

Tembleque coconut pudding tips?

My friend is throwing a "mojito party" this weekend and we're all supposed to bring appropriate snacks. I'm already planning on bringing a big mess of fresh guacamole but I also thought it might fun to try tembleque, the coconut pudding I got totally addicted to when I worked next to a Puerto Rican sweet shop years ago. I've probably eaten my weight in it, but I've never tried cooking it and so I looked up some recipes on line. The process seems simple enough but there's a lot of variation in ingredients. Some call for a combination of coconut cream and (dairy) milk, others only for coconut milk. Some call for vanilla, others not. And the amount of cornstarch varies. Usually when I'm cooking a dessert for the first time, I stick pretty closely to the recipe, so I just want to make sure I have a good recipe to stick to! Does anyone have a good one, or just some general tips?

Also, I've noticed from cooking with coconut milk before that what gets labeled as coconut milk really depends on the brand. Some brands of coconut milk are very liquid, while others have some liquid at the bottom of the can, but are much thicker and pastier, more like "coconut cream." I wonder if there is actually any difference between this type of thick coconut milk and coconut cream.

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  1. You may want to double check this, but I think coconut cream is sweetened coconut 'syrup' that is used in mixed drinks. That, in combination with diary milk (even evaporated) may be typical of the Puerto Rican cooking. The coconut milk that often forms a thick cream like layer at the top (fat rises), is widely used in SE Asian cooking, such as in Thai curries. The canned version probably is not used in Puerto Rico, but a home made version made by soaking fresh shredded coconut probably is used.

    1. Here's an easy one I made a couple of X-mas ago and was a hit.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Quimbombo

        That one uses the sweet stuff used for Piña Colada

          1. re: Quimbombo

            I use the Asian stuff regularly, but the sweetened only once - for a Daizy Martinez Puerto Rican egg nog (along with evaporated milk, SC milk and egg yolks, plus rum).

            1. re: paulj

              I generally prefer the thicker Asian versions too (that distinction makes sense because it's always the Southeast Asian brands that are the thick kind, while the Latin brands are thinner.) but then I've only ever used coconut milk in savory dishes, like curries. I wonder if using thick, Asian coconut milk would basically be the same thing as using cream of coconut, except I'd have to add more sugar...

              It would be wonderful to make my own coconut milk from fresh shredded coconut but it's not really feasible for me. Most of the Puerto Ricans I know used the canned stuff. Homemade coconut milk is a huge job.

      2. In Daisy Cooks, there's a recipe for 'temblique de Mamey'. Instead of cornstarch, she uses gelatin, in effect making a panna cotta. One version uses mamey puree, the other cream of coconut. From a South American cookbook I've made a panna cotta with pureed mango and passionfruit pulp.

        9 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          Her gelatin based temblique is rather gently set, quivery, almost like panna cotta. I wonder if I could get frozen mamey puree, if it's indeed available...she subs cream of coconut for the mamey as well, as you noted, which is the version I've always made.

          This simple version is made with coconut milk and cornstarch, not the cream of coconut for drinks, with an orange flower water twist:

          Here's a photo of a rather attractive tembleque stack presentation, open the photo gallery file to view:

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Have you tried both versions (the kind made with coconut milk and the kind made with cream of coconut)? Is there a difference? which is better? This is what I'm trying to figure out.

            I'm intrigued by the idea of using gelatin. Panna cotta is one of my favorite desserts to make and I've done it a lot so it would be more familiar territory.

            1. re: Lady_Tenar

              I make temblique with coconut milk. The coconut cream base version is a bit too sweet for my taste. For a really authentic version, use the cornstarch. There's not much difference in the end result between cornstarch and gelatin for thickening. Daisy's recipe for the panna cotta with gelatin, coconut milk and coconut cream is this:


              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Thanks, that is good to know. Maybe I'll stick to coconut milk too, since I don't like oversweet desserts, especially when they involve coconut. Do you use the thin kind or the thick kind or a combination? The thin kind (Latin brands like goya) seems like it would work better if you are using only coconut milk, but it also seems like it could work to use the thick, Thai kind in combination with regular milk.

                1. re: Lady_Tenar

                  The Latin coconut milk will be fine for temblique. I just noticed the link I posted upthread is not working, so for sake of providing all the info, here's the recipe, paraphrased by me. This makes a very basic, authentic, not terribly sweet temblique:

                  Cool and delicious!

                  4 cups coconut milk
                  ½ cup of cornstarch
                  2/3 cup of sugar
                  ½ tsp. salt
                  1 tblsp. orange blossom water (optional)
                  ground cinnamon

                  In a saucepan dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup coconut milk. Once dissolved add the rest of the coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Cook at medium-high heat stirring constantly. As it thickens, lower heat until it boils thick. Pour right away into wet ramekins, pans or cups. Cool and then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Carefully separate the tembleque from the mold using a knife. Turn it over unto a dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

                  Makes about 12 servings. Can certainly be divided.

            2. re: bushwickgirl

              The Met in my old nabe had some of the Goya and La Fea frozen fruit purées, I bet they're in the stores near you. Keeping the Bklyn home fires burning for me I hope bushwickgirl!

              1. re: buttertart

                I use the Goya frozen tropical fruits to make smoothies <with kefir a little bit of brown sugar.>

                My fave is the guanabana.

                1. re: Quimbombo

                  That and the passionfruit are mine.

                2. re: buttertart

                  Yes, I am (home fires burning.) Yes, I 've seen both brands at the Food Bazaar here. These purees make great ice cream bases, btw.