Mexican Coconut Custard and Cinnamon Pastries...Buen Apetito!


Who doesn't love Mexican?! So many flavours – the bold use of spices and smokey chipotle chilli with creamy Mexican crema and a refreshing lightness from fresh herbs, vegetables and tangy citrus makes it a favourite in our home... and the perfect party food.

I normally like to just make a Mexican appetiser when we have bbqs at our place, usually guacamole or pico de gallo with tortilla chips. But two weekends ago, we went away camping at a local farm where I found a bush lemon tree and came home with a big bag of 50 lemons (yum!). So, naturally, I figured we should make margaritas to celebrate our new home with our friends at our housewarming party on Saturday. If we were going to have margaritas we might as well go the whole hog and enjoy a Mexican feast!

We devoured guacamole, pico de gallo, Mexican chilli with all the sides and crema de coco with little cinnamon pastries, by a blazing bonfire on a balmy Queensland winter's night in the backyard!

I've never made a Mexican dessert before. Perhaps the most obvious dessert recipe to go with is churros... but I'm not heaps keen on the deep-frying thing. So as I made plans for a Mexican housewarming dinner, I went straight to Pati Jinich's website (patijinich.com, Pati's Mexican Table) – who could be better trusted with an authentic Mexican dessert than the lovely Pati...born and raised in Mexico! So, I found her recipe for Crema de Coco, a deliciously creamy coconut custard. For those of you who know me well, you know that when presented with many options, if one of those options is coconut, the answer is, and always will be, "coconut". I L O V E C O C O N U T .

The little pots of coconut delight were a hit – not one spoonful left behind. The original recipe used condensed milk...which was delicious, although very sweet. So, I've adjusted the recipe slightly so that it is a little more guilt-free... dairy-free and refined sugar free.

I served the little pots of Crema de Coco with Campechanas, little sweet flaky pastry squares. Again, I have adjusted the recipe for these slightly too. I used to live in Sydney, where one of my favourite places to eat was Chica Bonita, in Manly, a little hole in the wall, taco shop, margarita bar (and yes, they served coconut margaritas!). If you've never been there before, you must go! They serve amazing Cajeta Chimichangas. They are a sweet dessert chimichanga, filled with dulce de leche, deep-fried and doused in cinnamon sugar and lime zest... S O. G O O D. So I've added lime zest and cinnamon sugar to my Campechanas... and don't think I forgot all about that dulce de leche! I've added a dairy-free, refined sugar-free caramel to the Crema de Coco. The Crema de Coco and Campechanas eaten together are a culinary paradise of coconut, caramel, cinnamon and lime!

CREMA DE COCO

Originally using condensed milk and cow's milk, I've substituted some maple syrup and almond milk, and added a caramel sauce.

Makes 6-8 serves

1/3 cup shaved dried coconut

2 x 400ml tins coconut milk 1 tbsp maple syrup

1 cup almond milk (if you don't like almond milk, you can substitute cow's milk)