This coconut pudding is dairy-free, wheat- and leavening-free. It is a perfect Passover dessert solution, but welcome anytime. The prep is quick and easy, but allow at least 12 hours for the pudding to set.
- 6 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved, bean reserved
- 3 cups (325 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1⅓ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons potato starch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, cut into 1-inch dice and chilled
- ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- Pour the water into a medium saucepan, add the vanilla bean pod and shredded coconut, cover, set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Set up a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water, big enough for a tall saucepan to sit in.
- After waiting the 30 minutes for the water and coconut mixture to steep, remove the vanilla bean pod and discard. Place the coconut mixture into a blender and blend at high speed for 1½ to 2 minutes until smooth and the coconut is broken up. Let stand in the blender for 5 minutes while you line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a large (8-cup) measuring cup, preferably with a spout.
- Carefully pour the blended lukewarm coconut mixture into the prepared cheesecloth-lined strainer, and using the back of a large spoon, press hard and mash all the liquid into the measuring cup or bowl.
- Place the coconut milk into another deep saucepan and return it to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, vanilla seeds, sugar, and potato starch in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend. Gently drizzle the hot coconut milk into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously, until it is all incorporated. Add it back to the pot and cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a large spoon for about 2 minutes, until it is thickened and easily coats the back of the spoon. It should not boil; the eggs will scramble.
- Add the margarine and stir to melt it as you place the pot into the ice bath; stir gently as it cools and thickens. When it reaches room temperature, pour the mixture into 6 small ramekins or bowls for serving. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure not to touch the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving. It will firm up as it cools.
- Toast the coconut: Preheat oven to 375°F. Scatter the coconut and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes, mixing every 3 minutes, being careful that it does not burn. Before serving, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of toasted coconut to the pudding. The pudding will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.
- Optional garnishes included mini chocolate chips, diced glacéed (candied) fruit, and fresh fruits.
- Nut milks do not work exactly the same as dairy milks for puddings, flans, or any custard—cooked, baked or otherwise. The milks often separate and when making a liaison with eggs for any kind of custard or ice cream—dairy or not—the mixture can easily become scrambled eggs. The addition of a secondary thickener—in this case, potato starch—helps the alternative milk bind together with the eggs, and will allow the nondairy substitute to work. However, the mixture will definitely cook faster than a dairy version and is a bit more temperamental. Make sure you strain before allowing it to cool in the ramekins.