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.
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.