Tembleque, A Jiggly Dessert with Lots of Flavor!
Puerto Rico is a vibrant country with beautiful wildlife and warm people. Traditions go deep here, too! And you can see it in the food. It’s impossible to have a bad meal in the Caribbean island — everything is delicious!
Do you know what else? Puerto Rican people love to party. They have one of the longest winter holiday seasons in the world, as it goes from late November until late January! Of course, the holiday season is all about getting together with friends and family, and what better way to enjoy time with your loved ones than with tasty food?
Here’s where the Tembleque comes in. Tembleque kind of means “Jiggly,” and it’s because this tropical pudding-like dessert is super shaky like Jell-O, but it’s ten times better. Here’s all you need to know about this creamy, melt-in-your-mouth Puerto Rican dessert, including a fun Tembleque recipe. We’re sure you’ll love it!
What is a Tembleque, anyway?
Let’s start from the beginning. Puerto Rico is a tropical Caribbean island with fantastic warm weather. These are the perfect conditions for coconut palm trees to grow. In fact, coconuts play an essential role in sweet and savory dishes in the country.
Coconuts are the stars in every tembleque recipe. Coconut milk and coconut cream come together with sugar and water. Then you combine that with cornstarch and allow the dessert to set in the refrigerator for a firm but jiggly pudding-like dessert that just tastes like Puerto Rico.
It comes without saying the tembleque is an immensely popular dish, and every household has its own recipe. Many variations exist, but what all tembleques have in common is that they’re refreshing, heartwarming and delicious! What goes into a tembleque? Let’s find out!
What Goes into a Tembleque Pudding?
The most important ingredients in a tembleque dessert are coconut cream and coconut milk. The cream is thicker than the milk, but they’re basically the same thing — they come from the coconut’s meaty flesh.
You also need sugar, of course. This is a sweet treat, after all! But perhaps the most interesting ingredient in tembleque is cornstarch. The fine powder is an all-natural thickener, and it helps turn the coconutty liquid mixture into a somewhat solid dessert.
Some tembleque recipes call for condensed milk and other dairy, but we like ours made with 100% coconut. The best part? The tembleque recipe you’ll find below calls for only five essential ingredients! The rest is extra flavor! Before we learn how to make a classic Puerto Rican tembleque, let’s see what we can do with it!
The Tembleque Can Be Adventurous, Too!
Not all tembleques are created equal! You can make a classic one flavored with just a teaspoon of vanilla, but you can also be adventurous. Adding cinnamon sticks to the mixture or aromatic cloves is not uncommon, and it produces a spicier tembleque.
You can also add diced mango, pineapple or any other fruit for stunning results. Tembleques can be colorful too! What if you added blueberries to your tembleque? Or how about lime zest for a citrusy touch? Tembleques are also lovely if drizzled with flavored syrups; the sky’s the limit! That’s when you know a dessert is good — when it’s versatile and fun to make. Customizable desserts are simply the best! How would you garnish your tembleque?
Tips for the Perfect Tembleque Dessert
- The secret behind a successful tembleque is never to stop stirring. Cornstarch is a wonderful thickener, but it can form lumps, so make sure everything is fully incorporated.
- Unmolding a tembleque can be difficult, too. If you’ve made gelatin before, you know what we mean. One way around this is gently greasing your mold before pouring the tembleque mixture. You can also use a silicone mold for this one — unmolding is easy with one of these!
- Once unmolded, you can store the tembleque in the fridge for up to 5 days. Of course, it’s so delicious it usually never lasts that long!
- Garnish your tembleque with anything, especially if fruity. Taste a classic version first, and then let your imagination fly. Make the tembleque your own. Experimentation is always encouraged.
Here’s an authentic Puerto Rican Recipe for Tembleque. Call some friends over and try this jiggly recipe. We’re fairly sure this one will become one of your favorite desserts to enjoy all year round. This beauty takes time to set in the fridge, so make this tembleque recipe the day before for the best experience!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 8-12 hours
- 5 cups of coconut milk, unsweetened
- 1/2 cup of coconut cream
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Ground cinnamon as a garnish
- In a pot, add the coconut milk and sugar. Heat over a medium flame. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the corn starch and the warm water. Whisk until dissolved and incorporate into the coconut milk mixture.
- Whisk the mixture constantly and prevent the cornstarch from precipitating to the bottom of the pot. Add the coconut cream and bring to a boil while stirring often.
- Once boiling, remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.
- Pour the mixture into a mold and let it rest in the fridge overnight.
- Unmold just before ready to serve and powder with cinnamon. Enjoy!