Tembleque de Coco: Coconut Pudding

Cups of coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Refrigeration Time: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
711 Calories
57g Fat
53g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 711
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 57g 73%
Saturated Fat 51g 254%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 38mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Protein 6g
Calcium 39mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Spanish, tembleque means wiggly or shaky. This beloved Caribbean coconut pudding is aptly named. Creamy, jiggly, and delicious, it's especially popular in Puerto Rico but has several variations in other countries. The one thing that doesn't change is the jiggly appearance, which also makes it fun to eat. Most flans like this one are traditional Christmas desserts, home-made and served during the novenas—the nine nights before Christmas Eve when family and friends come together to celebrate and eat.

Perfect for any special occasion, this simple and easy-to-make dessert calls for four ingredients and at least one hour in the fridge. If you're in a rush to make a tasty dessert, this trembling flan is the one to go for.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • Garnish: ground cinnamon, toasted coconut flakes

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make coconut pudding

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a saucepan, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, and salt.

    A pot with cornstarch, salt, and sugar mixed together

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Whisk in the coconut milk and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and is thoroughly cooked through, for about 6 minutes. 

    A pot of coconut milk and starch mixture being whisked

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the pudding into individual dessert cups or ramekins.

    A pot of coconut pudding being ladled into glasses

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Allow the pudding to cool off a bit before placing it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

    Glasses of coconut pudding

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Garnish with ground cinnamon and/or toasted coconut flakes before serving. 

    Cups of coconut pudding topped with toasted coconut and cinnamon

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • For a firmer tembleque: Let the pudding sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours so it sets completely, or even overnight if you want to unmold it for a more elegant presentation.
  • For a smoother texture: Strain the pudding before chilling to ensure it comes out perfectly silky with no clumps.
  • For a finger-food dessert: Chill the tembleque in a baking dish overnight, cut into squares, and place each in a small paper candy cup.
  • For the right coconut milk: Buy canned, full-fat coconut milk, available in most supermarkets. It can be purchased either sweetened or unsweetened and for this recipe, you can use either depending on your taste. Shake well before opening because it separates easily.
  • For perfect roasted coconut flakes: Spread coconut flakes as evenly as possible on a baking sheet so they form a single layer. Roast at 400 F for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring them once or twice. Keep a close eye because coconut has high-fat content so it can go from golden brown to black and burnt in the blink of an eye. Remove the flakes from the sheet as soon as they're roasted to avoid overcooking.

Recipe Variations

  • Use one part creamed coconut to five parts milk for a lighter version.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or cook one opened vanilla bean with your coconut milk and cornstarch. Remove before chilling.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract if you love coconut flavor.
  • Toppings: Add chocolate chips or sprinkles, sliced almonds, crunchy granola, fruit compote, fresh berries, cubed mango, or caramel sauce to play with different flavors. In some countries, they add prune sauce on top and chopped prunes or raisins before chilling the tembleque to give it a chewier texture.