Tembleque (Coconut Custard)

There are plenty of eats at La Palma Puerto Rican restaurant, 1340 N Homan Ave, Chicago, you are guaranteed “…you will not leave hungry !”.   So true (jibarito and tostones, to die for).    But for this post, I’d like you to meet “tembleque”…a sweetheart of a dessert — pillowy soft, velvety smooth, delicately rich and definitely a pudding of the “Gods”.   Tembleque is the Puerto Ricans’ version of Hawaiian’s haupia or Filipinos’ maja blanca  — a sliceable thick coconut pudding chilled until firm.   I begged for the recipe of the tembleque from La Palma’s owner Don Kramer…and really thought I had a good chance of getting it, but nope, must be another recipe secret “not to be shared”.  I googled tembleque and found a recipe, got excited to try it…but the recipe wasn’t even close to La Palma’s tembleque.   It thickened nicely, but it was too rich, the coconut flavor was overpowering, instead of just “sweet enough” and light, delicate coconut flavors.

I printed a haupia recipe I found online and to my surprise (and why didn’t I think about this ingredient right away…sorry I’m no Todd Wilbur)….milk was added to the pudding mixture.  Yes, yes, yes….I think I solve the mystery of the Tembleque.

Result of my first try with the recipe:  close, very close to La Palma’s and I love that it cuts nicely too.   Make sure to leave in the fridge to chill (overnight for me) and firm up.  Yummy!
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 can (12 oz) unsweetened coconut milk (Chaokoh brand is best)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together to combine: cornstarch, salt and 1/2 cup whole milk.  Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil the remaining 1 cup whole milk, coconut milk and sugar, whisking well to dissolve the sugar.   Reduce heat to medium-low heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture.   Whisk constantly until pudding thickens.   Off the heat, stir in vanilla.  Transfer to an 8 inch square Pyrex dish and chill until firm.    Cut into squares, dust top with cinnamon powder and serve.

Make sure to dine in at La Palma on your next visit to Chicago (http://lapalmarestaurant.com/), and share your wonderful experience and photos too.

Make sure to dine in at La Palma on your next visit to Chicago (http://lapalmarestaurant.com/), and share your wonderful experience and photos too.


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