Mami’s Tembleque

6 Feb

My mom is not one of those moms that slaved over the stove when we were growing up.  That was my grandma… my grandma would offer you food from the moment you stepped into her house, until the moment you left.  My mom would take home bowls of food my grandma had made and served it to us after we had returned from ballet classes and done our homework.

She taught us how to cook a few survival dishes so we would not “starve to death” when we went to live by ourselves when we left for school.  She did many dips and salads for parties… hey, she even once made a Friendship Cake where she had to macerate fruit for almost a month.  But in general, desserts were not her thing.  That’s why it surprised me when for Three Kings Day (Día de Reyes) she made Tembleque.

I asked my aunt to come to my grandma’s house to have lunch for Día de Reyes… I wanted to eat her Arroz con Maíz and Ensalada de Papas.  But my mom surprised me the most when she said she had made a tembleque from scratch and even more so that my dad had found her the recipe in the Internet!!!  My dad – the least online-friendly person I know!!!  This will be a 2009 full of surprises if this is the way the year is starting…

Like me, my mom almost follows recipes… so even though she got a recipe off the Internet , that was not what she did…





1 can cream of coconut – Coco Lopez or any other brand, this is what you use to make Piña Coladas
1 can coconut milk
2 cinnamon sticks
A pinch of salt
½ cup + 1/3 cup cornstarch
Ground Cinnamon to taste


  1. Take the 2 cans of cream of coconut and coconut milk and add enough water to make 5 cups of liquid all together.  Reserve 1 cup of liquid and pour the rest in a large pot to cook over medium-high heat.  Add the salt and cinnamon sticks to the pot.
  2. Mix the cornstarch to the liquid you reserved.  Mix well and add to the pot when the mixture starts to simmer.  The coconut mixture will start to thicken a bit as it simmers/boils.
  3. Take it off the heat and pour into the container you want to serve it in.  You can do it in a square pyrex dish or even individual demit asses or ramekins.  Place it in the refrigerator to set.  It will set just like gelatin does.
  4. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon just before serving.

15 Responses to “Mami’s Tembleque”

  1. Nanny Y. February 8, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Oh my! Now I’ll be dreaming of tembleque until I make this!!

  2. Amanda December 31, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    i like temblque!!!!!!!!!

  3. Stefanie February 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Urgh! I made Tembleque last night and I used the recipe found on and I left it in the fridge overnight. When I checked on it, I found that it hadn’t set and was still liquid. Can you please tell me what I did wrong? This is the recipe I used….

    2 cans of coconut milk
    1/2 cup of cornstarch
    2/3 cups of sugar

    I did just as the recepi said… It boiled thick and I refrigerated it. Are the ingredients off? Or did it need to boil thicker? I’ve never made this before. Thanks for any help.

    • karmafreecooking February 9, 2010 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Stephanie… I am certainly no Tembleque expert here. But I can’t determine why your tembleque did not set… actually, the recipes I have used and posted here in KarmaFree Cooking, use way more liquid than just the 2 cans of coconut milk in proportion to the amount of cornstarch you used. I am going out on a limb here, but could it have been that because you did not dilute the coconut milk with some water that it had too much fat content for it to set properly??? If you want a more reliable recipe, try the ones I share with you here… I make them every Xmas and they work!! Good luck.

  4. angie September 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    I’m a bit confused. When you wrote “½ cup + 1/3 cup cornstarch”, dosen’t that mean 3/4ths cup of corn starch all together?

    I want to make this for thanksgiving and I’d like to know. Thank you.

    • KarmaFree Cooking September 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

      Angie… don’t be confused. My mom took a recipe and adapted it her way. I can’t remember if she halfed it or doubled it… but trust the measurements and make that tembleque for your family… OK? buen provecho.

      • Patti May 30, 2012 at 3:35 am #

        I was remembering the Tembleque I used to make when I way young and searching for a recipe. Yours sounds close, except we used to make it really thin. I can’t wait to try this and see if I like it. Angie: 3/4’s would be 1/2 + 1/4, not 1/3. I’m sure they put it that way because of the limitations of sizes in measuring cups. 2/3 or 3/4 is likely not enough and 1 cup is too much. I’ve seen them us 1 cup less so many tablespoons and I think that is how the recipe I used was written.

  5. celebreaty4recipes October 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    is there no sugar in your tembleque recipe? i want to try to make tembleque, I just had a square of it this weekend. thanks

  6. Eileen Collins May 10, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Try adding a bit of orange blossom water to the tembleque recipe. It adds a whole other dimension to this already marvelous dish. A good friend made a tembleque this past Christmas that nearly had everyone dancing with joy!!! Orange blossom water was her secret ingredient.

    • KarmaFree Cooking May 10, 2012 at 10:47 am #

      Eileen, Nice idea. I will try adding orange blossom the next time we make it. Gracias!!!!


  7. Margie August 9, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Yay for finding this recipe. I remember making a similar recipe to this from a really old cookbook my mom had. Now that I’m married myself I wanted to make it but don’t have the book. All the other recipes online I found online only have coconut milk, and I was almost sure that coconut cream was also added to it. So I am really happy I found this! 🙂

  8. craftrunandyumminess December 7, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Yummmmmm!!! I have a friend who made something similar but topped it with crunchy toasted coconut!! OMG to die for… Que Rico!

  9. Veronica February 6, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I can’t wait to surprise my Grandma with this! It has been so many years since she has made it, I had forgotten all about it! Muchas Gracias!

  10. alan November 24, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I searched fro Tembleque from scratch on the web and ended up here. The recipe is pretty much what I have and find everywhere and a good one. However, I am in search of fresh coconut tembleque, old school abuela style. Please let me know if you have access toi this long process yumminess. Thank you.

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