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What is Tembleque?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Tembleque is a pudding that is made from coconut milk and is most closely associated with Puerto Rico, which is likely its place of origin. In addition to being widely served in Puerto Rico, tembleque is popular in other Latin American nations, and it sometimes turns up in Southeast Asian cuisine, where coconut milk is a popular ingredient. This rich dessert can be supplemented with a variety of toppings and garnishes for additional interest, and it is easy to make at home, for cooks who want a creative dessert to pair with a Latin American meal.

Wonderful Wiggle

The name of this pudding translates as “trembling,” and it does indeed jiggle in a way that some people find quite delightful. Typically, tembleque is unmolded for service, so that people can clearly see the distinctive jiggle, although it also can be eaten straight out of the mold. Especially tall puddings can almost appear to dance on the plate.

Process of Making

To make this pudding, a cook makes a paste out of cornstarch, sugar, salt and a small amount of coconut milk. After all of the clumps of cornstarch have been smoothed, more coconut milk is added, and the tembleque is cooked on medium heat and stirred frequently until it thickens. After the pudding starts to congeal, it is stirred about a minute and then poured into an oiled mold or molds.

Most cooks like to cover their tembleque with a small piece of plastic wrap, pressed into the surface of the pudding to push all of the air out. This prevents the formation of a thick skin. After it has been covered, the pudding is refrigerated for least 12 hours before being turned out of the mold and served, It can keep for several days in the refrigerator, if necessary.

Methods of Serving

Although tembleque is quite tasty on its own, it also can be paired with tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple for extra flavor. Some cooks also drizzle it with flavored syrups, creating visual interest and a more dynamic flavor. Tembleque also can be garnished with mint, chocolate, fresh berries or whipped cream.

Caution is advised when eating tembleque. This pudding is extremely rich, thanks to the coconut milk, and the rich flavor can be jolting to some people. Small portions are highly recommended, and some people might be advised to take a break before going in for seconds, to wait and see whether the pudding was more filling than anticipated.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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 browncoat — On Oct 07, 2011

I find tembleque is a really good pudding to try if you are vegetarian or vegan. It has the thick, smooth feel that you might be looking for but without the gelatin that many other puddings use to get that texture.

And gelatin is usually made from animal products, so you can't eat it as a vegan.

But, if you want to make tembleque, you can find a good recipe online. And it generally only uses coconut milk, sugar and corn starch.

I like to put a bit of cinnamon in with mine as well. The only problem is that coconut milk has saturated fat, but in the case of vegans, often a bit of fat is lacking in the diet, so it should be even more recommended.

Just find a recipe that works for you and enjoy!

By Mor — On Oct 06, 2011

You can get a packaged mix to make this kind of pudding, but I wouldn't recommend it! It's not that much easier than just making it from scratch and from scratch tastes so much better.

In fact, I don't find it any more difficult than making custard, and I like tembleque a lot more, although it's true, it can be quite rich. I think it's a good idea to have a plain vanilla or chocolate ice cream to go with it, so that you can cut the rich taste a little bit.

But then, that just encourages me to eat more and I already eat too much!

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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