June 29, 2022

A la Carte: Caramelized Coconut Budino Makes a Luscious Dessert

Lee White

I am going to a dinner party next Saturday evening in Madison. There may be 12 people. I may have met half of them. Most are flying in to see their daughter and son-in-law in their new house into which they moved just three weeks ago.

The last time I moved, it took me months to unpack boxes, never mind ready to host a dinner party in less than a month. And many of the invitees are flying in from Florida and Pennsylvania and will be staying for a few extra days in their house. I probably wouldn’t have been able to find the boxes of sheets and towels. 

In any case, as I am one of the locals who will be at the dinner party, I told Lisa I would make the dessert. Although the age range of the visitors run from 20 to 80, and assuming no one is lactose-intolerant or on a diet, this gorgeous and luscious dessert will feed 12 and still looks pretty a day or two. It is, in a way, a flan, but the chewy coconut does more than just feel like snowdrops on one’s tongue.

I will also make some little cookies, maybe shortbread, to those who don’t much care for flan.  

Caramelized Coconut Budino
Adapted from More Cooking in the Wine Country by Joanne Weir (Simon and Schuster, New York, 2001)

Yield: Serves 8

2 ½ cups very finely grated sweetened coconut
2 cups sugar, divided
8 eggs
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Have ready an 8-inch round cake pan and a larger one in which to place the 8-inch cake pan. 

Place coconut on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until light golden, tossing occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place in food processor and pulse until finely ground. Reserve. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a large, heavy stainless-steel frying pan, melt 1 cup of the sugar over medium heat. Do not stir with a spoon; instead, swirl the pan to melt the sugar uniformly. Cook until sugar starts to turn golden brown. Immediate remove the pan from the heat and pour mixture into the 8-inch round cake pan, turning the pan so the caramel coats the bottom and sides. Set it aside.

Whisk eggs together in a bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar, the milk, coconut and flour and stir together until well mixed.

Pour coconut mixture into the caramel-lined, pan, and place in a larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake in the oven until set and a skewer goes into the center and comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.

Remove can pan from the larger pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then invert the coconut budino onto a serving plate and serve.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.