If you like desserts that are soft to the mouth and “coconut-y,” Blancmange, which literally means “white (blanc in French) eat (mange in French),” is for you. One of the definitions of Blancmange, as found online, is “a jelly-like dessert, stiffened usually with cornflour and set in a mould.” Another definition is “sweet almond flavored milk thickened with gelatin or cornstarch, usually molded.” My version of Blancmange, on the other hand, is the one we eat in Haiti, and it always includes coconut milk and, depending on who is making it, it may include tropical fruit cocktail (drained and cut into small pieces) and/or be served (this one is a MUST for me) with a sprinkling of addictive, toasted coconut flakes. You can also choose to serve it unmolded on a plate, or (if you are scared that you might encounter difficulties unmolding it) right in the dish in which it is preferred (i.e. a pyrex). I found the basis for this recipe in globaltableadventure.com, but after having made it once, I tweaked it more than just a bit. You will find that eating a slice of this dessert with a very generous sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes is a delight to your palate. I love the contrast between the softness/jello-like consistency of the Blancmange and the crispiness of the coconut flakes. My son himself likes an even higher ratio of coconut flakes to the dessert itself; the blancmange must be 100% covered with the flakes. I do the same thing too sometimes and it is wonderful. —Regine
8 to 10
can evaporated milk (each can is 12 oz so a total of 18 oz)
can coconut milk (cans are generally 13.5 to 14 oz). I usually use the Goya brand, Coconut Milk (leche de coco) which is 13.5 oz.
packets of unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3/4 cup very warm water. I use the Knox brand; each packet is (I believe) 0.25 oz or about 2 1/2 tsp.
condensed milk or more to taste
sugar (3 tbsp for gelatin and remaining sugar for coconut milk mixture)
pure vanilla extract
grated lime zest (optional), but note that the zest will tend to gravitate towards the bottom of the pan; and if its is unmolded as in the picture, the zest will be at the top portion. See second picture.
sweetened coconut flakes, very well toasted. This is a MUST!
Warm ¾ cup water (or more) in case some of it spills in the microwave. You may have to remeasure the water once out of the microwave. Pour the gelatin into water and stir with spoon to dissolve it. Set aside.
Mix together the evaporated milk, coconut milk, condensed milk, and sugar. Add the water/gelatin mixture, and cook over low medium heat until the sugar and gelatin are dissolved. Do not let simmer. Remove from heat, and add the vanilla extract and (optional) the lime zest. However, please note that if you are going to unmold this dessert, you may see some of the zest (as in picture) at the top of the dessert (bottom of dessert if not unmolded). If you don’t like this, just skip the zest.
Pour mixture onto either a lightly sprayed pyrex dish if you want to serve it right from the dish (the usual 9x13 pyrex is too big so look for a smaller one; sorry I do not know exact size) or onto a lightly sprayed mold if you want to unmold it. Put in refrigerator for at least 24 hours . Of course, for presentation purposes, unmolding it is better but it can be tricky. In the picture I used a 9 cup ceramic bundt-like dish. To serve unmolded, carefully loosen the edges with a knife until you can feel that the dessert is shaking loose from the edges. Invert onto a plate. Right before serving, sprinkle ¼ cup or more of the toasted, coconut flakes on the unmolded blancmange; and leave the rest aside for people to add more on their individual slices if they want. I myself love to add LOTS of it. But note that once you put leftover in fridge, the coconut flakes may not be as crunchy due to the wet surface of the dessert. So this is why I prefer to leave most of the flakes in a separate dish for people to use right before eating.
For the sweetened coconut flakes, you can either toast in a pan, or (like me) put it in a 350 degree heated oven and occasionally stir the flakes so that all sides are evenly and very well (meaning very brown*) toasted. This may require a bit of patience; and (off the top of my head) about 15+ minutes in the oven. The flakes can get too dark very easily, so be careful. Do not be distracted while you are toasting the flakes, particularly if you do so inside oven. Let cool (uncovered) before using. * I like my flakes really really brown because this makes them more crispy.