I’ve been on a real coconut bender lately. Some people despise coconut and I just don’t understand it. Coconut is delicious! I guess that just means more for me, which is A-OK. I’ve been going through coconut milk at a rapid pace lately, making a slew of frozen desserts, savory stews and rice dishes not to mention dried coconut in a bunch of things. I recently made a blender full of old school piña coladas for friends not long ago and they were fantastic. A properly made, boozy, retro piña colada is something that is most definitely due for a comeback. (I’m looking at you Tiki Bar trend.) Tasty but potentially lethal, you gotta keep and eye on these things and the rate at which your friends are downing them. Trust me on this. For an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party two weeks back, I was searching for an appropriate dessert and with neither the time nor the energy to attack my favorite egg custard tarts; I narrowed in a coconutty custard that looked perfect. Coconut Quindim. Interesting name. This had potential.
As I read the recipe, it seemed like an incredibly easy flan type dessert. What I really liked was it was a simple “mix together and bake” type of recipe. No tempering of the eggs, no cooking to nape, no straining and pouring. I didn’t have a lot of time nor the inclination to make anything complicated. We had a robust party menu but needed a little something sweet and as the default pastry chef of the group, that task typically falls to me and I knew only a few in this crowd would eat dessert anyway. And I do not mind either of these things it all.
I started to gather the few ingredients and stopped short. How did I have no coconut milk? Every time I buzz through an Asian market, I pick up a few cans but I slowly realized I’d used them all. Damn. Hiding in the back of the pantry shelf was a can of coconut cream meant for a recipe I had yet to try. OK, this could work. Coconut cream is the thick stuff that settles on the top and lid of regular coconut milk when you open it and I had a full can of it. I was liking this idea and at 10pm I didn’t have a lot of options. It would have to do.
Portuguese desserts are known to be heavy on the eggs so I wasn’t surprised that the recipe called for 10 yolks to just over a cup of coconut cream. I grabbed the carton and started separating, collecting the whites in a Ziploc bag to freeze for a future buttercream. The yolks are then are simply whisked together with the remaining ingredients, poured into butter/sugared ramekins and baked in a water bath until set. Couldn’t have been easier.
What emerges is an incredibly rich, thick and wonderfully silky custard with bits of coconut throughout. I loved the texture, much like a flan made with condensed milk but without that cooked, milky flavor. I don’t think I’m ever going to make it with regular coconut milk. I made tiny, ¼ cup custards as we had a lot of food at the party but a ½ cup ramekin is more standard. A sauce, particularly a nicely tart fruit puree, would be very nice but I just tossed a handful of fresh blueberries alongside.
If you have a fear of custards, I suggest you give this one a whirl. In the world of flans, crème brûlées and crème caramels, this one is incredibly easy. I might even say virtually fool-proof. The Rio Closing Ceremonies is coming up; make this early Sunday morning so it has time to chill and enjoy for dinner while you toast our fantastic athletes.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: FIDDLE DE DEE! I don’t really understand the name of this thing, quindim. But then again, I don’t have to. It’s just what it’s called. It’s also very delicious and ridiculously easy so in my book, that’s a win-win type of situation. In fact, I’m a bit surprised by how easy this is. Boxed cake mixes -gah! the horror!- are more complicated. Sure you need to have a nearly dozen eggs lying about but that isn’t a big thing and very easy to come by. So just do it, as they say.
Seven years ago:Fresh Tomato Pasta
Six years ago: Peterson Garden Project – How It Goes
Five years ago: Raspberry Crème Croustilant
Four years ago: Breaking Bread with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
Three years ago:Sunday Lunch – Pimento Cheese
Two years ago: Welcome Back
Last year:Iced Tisane
COCONUT QUINDIM – adapted from this recipe
Makes 8 servings – ½ cup/4 ounce ramekins
Please note, “coconut cream” is thicker than coconut milk and is most certainly not Coco Lopez, the sweetened stuff you use for piña coladas. It’s a full can of the thick stuff that’s on the top of the can of coconut milk when you open it. Look for it in an Asian market but if you can’t find it, regular coconut milk will work the finished custard just won’t be as thick and creamy. If you opt to use regular coconut milk, scoop out the thick stuff that accumulates on the top and lid of the can first, then finish your measure with the milk.
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
10 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar, plus extra for coating the ramekins
1 ¼ cups coconut cream (see note above)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place a rack in the middle position.
- Line a roasting pan with a double layer of paper towels (this will keep the ramekins from sliding around in the water bath) and place a kettle or pot of water on to boil.
- Grease 8 4-ounce ramekins with softened butter then coat on all sides with the sugar. The easiest way to do this is to fill the first buttered ramekin with a couple Tablespoons of sugar and slowly rotate to fully coat all the sides while pouring the excess sugar into the next buttered ramekin. Continue in this manner until all the ramekins are well coated.
- Place 1 ½ teaspoons of coconut in each ramekin.
- In a medium bowl, press the egg yolks through a wire strainer and whisk with the sugar until well blended.
- Whisk in the coconut cream, vanilla and a good pinch of salt.
- Pour the custard into the sugared ramekins and place in the prepared roasting pan.
- Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan to ¾ up the sides of the ramekins so it creates a water bath, aka a bain marie, to gently bake the custards.
- Carefully place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the tops are golden and the custards just ever so slightly jiggle in the center.
- Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven, take the ramekins out of the water and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- To serve: run a knife around the edge. Place a plate on top and turn out the quindims to serve.