Coconut Tembleque

26 Apr

Tembleque is a Puerto Rican dessert, traditionally made mainly during Xmas time.   However, it can be enjoyed year round.  And it’s a special treat when you can taste it outside of Xmas… very unexpected.

The name “tembleque” comes from the verb “temblar” or “to tremble”.  The dessert is a jiggly/trembly custard made with coconut milk, sugar and set with cornstarch.  I added the word coconut in the name for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar to the tembleque dessert.  But, we do not add the word coconut in front; it would be “redundant”, because tembleques are only made with coconut milk… there are no other versions… yet. (This explanation is giving me ideas…)

We decided to make this because so many people in the Center who are avoiding wheat, spelt and dairy products so dessert options need to get more creative each time.  Plus, this would be a good accompaniment to other true Puerto Rican delicacies such as Arroz con Gandules and Alcapurrias.

It’s easy and super delicious…  check it out.





Makes about 24 servings


12 cups of coconut milk
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
6 cinnamon sticks
1 ¼ cup cornstarch, diluted in some reserved coconut milk and ½ cup water
Ground cinnamon, to garnish


  1. In a large pot, pour about 10 cups of coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon sticks and bring to a simmer.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the remaining coconut milk, the cornstarch and water.  Whisk together well and pour into the simmering coconut milk. 
  3. Whisk in the whole coconut milk mixture until it thickens slightly.
  4. While it still hot, CAREFULLY (because it can burn you – I speak from experience), divide in individual servings, about  1/3 – ½ cup each.  
  5. Garnish with a sprinkle with ground cinnamon on top.
  6. Refrigerate for about 2-3 hours.  Serve cold.

2 Responses to “Coconut Tembleque”

  1. Milagros Llauger June 7, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    I Stumpled Upon your site and loved it! As a Puerto Rican I feel that we do not get the respect due to us when it comes to our cuisine. I make kick ass vegan Pasteles. I subsitute eggplant, red and yellow peppers for the meat. Everything else in the recipe stays the same. A note on the tembleque….
    my mother used rice powder instead of cornstarch. That is the way it was made back in the 1930s and 40s. The texture is better than cornstarch. The fact that we now can get canned coconut milk really makes it so easy these days. My Mami had to grate the coconut from scratch and squeeze the milk out. Thanks for your website!

    KFC : Interesting Milagros… How do you call this rice powder in Spanish? Harina de Arroz? I want to learn…

  2. J. Merced December 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    Milagros: I believe that if you use rice flour instead of cornstarch, you’re essentially making “majarete”. Check the following URL

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