Tembleque ("wobbly" in spanish) is a classic Puerto Rican coconut pudding made with coconut milk, cornstarch, cinnamon and sugar. It's appropriately named for its wiggly appearance and deliciously smooth texture. For best results, chill the dessert in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
This post may contain affiliate links; this means if you purchase an item linked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to learn more about my disclosure policy.
This coconut pudding has everything you love about pudding (that creamy, rich, smooth texture) paired with classic Puerto Rican flavor thanks to the coconut and cinnamon.
This recipe is fairly accessible as far as ingredients go.
Here's everything you'll need:
- cinnamon sticks
- star anise
- coconut milk
- white granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon to garnish
See recipe card for exact quantities.
How to Make Tembleque
Make the spice tea. Start a the water and spices in a pot over medium heat. Simmer until the color begins to turn brown and the spices become fragrant. Cool before straining out the spices.
Tip: If your coconut milk is clumpy when it comes out of the can, take extra time to make sure it is smooth and creamy before heating. You can use an immersion blender if necessary to gain that smooth consistency.
Mix the coconut and cornstarch. Whisk the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a bowl until the clumps are gone (see note). Whisk in sugar, salt, vanilla, and the cooled spice tea.
Cook the tembleque. Transfer the coconut mixture to the pot on the stovetop over medium heat and continue to whisk while it heats and thickens enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Set the tembleque. Pour the liquid into your mold/molds, and gently smooth out the top with a spoon. Allow the tembleque to cool down before covering and chilling in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or until it appears firm and jiggly.
Flip the tembleque. Using a knife, loosen the edges around the molds before flipping upside down on a plate and topping with cinnamon.
This spice tea is my favorite element of this Puerto Rican dessert.
Simmering the spices in some water allows them to infuse the water with flavor, creating a deliciously smooth but perfectly spiced tembleque.
To make it, simply simmer the whole spices in the water for a few minutes, or until it becomes fragrant.
If all you've got is cinnamon sticks, use them! Use what you have and don't feel like you have to have all three spices to make the tea.
Picking the Right Molds
When it comes to picking your molds, you really can't go wrong as long as you're using a glass or silicone container of sorts.
I've found that the silicone makes it easier to push the coconut pudding out of the mold.
As I always say, use what you have available and don't feel the need to go buy something if you've got something that will work!
Cinnamon is the most traditional topping when it comes to tembleque. That said, you can always get creative and add what you like as a garnish.
These are my favorite (totally non traditional) toppings for coconut pudding:
- toasted coconut flakes - toast up some coconut flakes in a pan over medium heat to really amp up the coconut flavor
- cinnamon - not only is this a beautiful garnish, it ties into the infusion and let's people know what to expect
- fresh fruit - a colorful pop from a slice of mango, zest of fresh orange, or bright red raspberry is always a fun addition if you have it