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What is a Coconut Pudding?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Coconut pudding is a type of pudding which is made with coconut milk. In some regions of the world, coconut pudding is eaten as a sweet dessert treat, while in other areas, savory coconut pudding is the norm. For people traveling far from home, the variety in coconut pudding styles can sometimes lead to confusion. There are many different recipes for coconut pudding, and many markets sell packaged coconut pudding kits for people who want a fast and simple version of this food.

In Southeast Asia and China, coconut pudding is usually a savory dish which is made by blending coconut milk with flour and then frying it, creating a slightly gelatinous cake. This coconut pudding may be blended with scallions and other ingredients for extra flavor, and it is often eaten as a street food, sometimes drizzled with syrup for extra flavor. Asian coconut pudding can also be served with a garnish of sweet red bean paste, blending sweet and savory.

In the Americas, coconut pudding is usually a sweet treat. Tembleque is a Latin American version of coconut pudding which trembles when it is disturbed, while haupia is a Hawaiian version made with coconut milk and arrowroot. Squares of haupia may be served with poi at parties and some restaurants. In Africa, dishes like cocada amarela, or yellow coconut pudding, are made with an egg custard base and a blend of spices. Europeans make their own versions of coconut panna cotta or blancmange.

Coconut can also be used as a base for tapioca pudding or rice pudding, to create a coconut pudding with more texture and flavor variation. This type of coconut pudding is sometimes served in institutions for people who are tired of eating plain rice or tapioca pudding. For an exotic twist on rice pudding, black rice can be used with coconut milk to create a dessert which develops a rich purple color and an intense flavor. Fruit slices often work very well as a garnish for these styles of coconut pudding, especially slices of tropical fruits like mangoes.

Various recipes for ethnic coconut puddings can be found on the Internet and in specialty cookbooks. It is also possible to substitute coconut milk for regular milk in many pudding recipes, although the difference in fat content can sometimes cause problems when the pudding sets up, causing the pudding to become chunky or runny, so making a test batch first is advisable.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On May 08, 2014

@Pippinwhite -- I think my favorite coconut recipe is for coconut cake. That sort of defines "Christmas" for me, since that's when we usually had it.

I also like coconut in ambrosia, which is a type of fruit salad. But that coconut flan sounds awesome. I'm friendly with the folks at one of the local Mexican places, and I'll ask if they've ever had it on the menu.

By Pippinwhite — On May 07, 2014

A local Mexican restaurant used to have coconut pudding and coconut flan on its dessert menu. Both were delicious. I've never had the guts to attempt flan, but I would try coconut pudding, if I could find a good recipe for it. I love coconut.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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