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Manjar branco is a firm coconut pudding dish from Brazil set in a ring mold and served with a spiced sauce made with port wine and dried plums. This dish contains milk, condensed milk, and coconut milk thickened with corn starch and shredded coconut. The sauce served with manjar branco is a syrup made from cooking dried plums, often known as prunes, in spices, wine, and sugar, which is often poured into the center of the pudding ring. Manjar branco and other gelatinous coconut dishes like it are sometimes called coconut custard or coconut flan.
To make manjar branco, the milk, condensed milk, and corn starch are gently heated on the stove and carefully stirred until the mixture begins to thicken. While cooking the milk mixture, care must be taken to ensure that the milk does not burn. Some cooks use a double boiler to help guard against burning the milk mixture. Once the cooking mixture has thickened, coconut milk and shredded coconut are stirred in before pouring it into a chilled mold and refrigerating it until firm. The sauce served with manjar branco is made by cooking dried plums in a sugar solution with one or two cloves and a cinnamon stick.
Similar dishes to manjar branco exist in many cultures. French cuisine has a dish called blancmange, which is a similar-looking white molded pudding made with milk and cream, but it is not flavored with coconut and may contain thickeners other than corn starch, like gelatin or the jelly from Irish moss. Puerto Rico has an extremely similar dish named tembleque, which is a molded, coconut-flavored pudding made with milk, corn starch, and cream. Tembleque is different from manjar branco in many ways. It is generally molded flat in a pan and served in squares, and rather than plum wine sauce, it can be served with a number of toppings that range from shredded chocolate and crushed nuts to flavored sauce and tropical fruit.
Manjar branco is one of the many famous Brazilian desserts that contain condensed milk. In Brazil, sweetened condensed milk is the ingredient of choice in the cream filling for many dishes, including tarts and pies, cakes, and pastries. In addition to manjar branco, condensed milk is also used to make other kinds of molded pudding dishes, such as caramel flan.
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