Today I’ll be sharing with you a recipe for one of my favorite childhood desserts, the Maja Blanca.
Maja Blanca is a creamy, gelatinous Filipino dessert that is made from several types of milk (chiefly coconut milk), thickened with cornstarch and topped with latik (cooked coconut topping). It is a traditional dessert that is served during get togethers.
Some Interesting Facts about Maja Blanca
It’s amazing how a history of colonial rule can link countries from opposite sides of the globe. For example, the Philippines and Puerto Rico were both outposts of the Spanish Empire and were, subsequently, annexed by the US sometime after 1898
Aside from the colonial past and the Spanish sounding names, both countries share an affinity for consuming a type of coconut pudding which is known as maja blanca in the Philippines and tembleque in Puerto Rico.
Of course, we can trace the proliferation of analogous milk-based desserts back to the Spanish colonizers. Maja blanca is a derivative of manjar blanco or blancmange. Being a bit of a history bug, it’s utterly fascinating to note the impact of colonization to the local cuisines. I think I’ll make a special effort to mark those similarities in the future.
Anyway, while putting together the list of recipes to blog about, I was hit with nostalgia when I thought of maja blanca. I think nostalgia hits more often as you grow older as I found myself thinking about fond memories of my childhood while eating the food that I was writing about.
Back when I was a kid, I had another neighbor (a lot of my neighbors were good cooks and entrepreneurs) who went around and sold yema and maja blanca in the afternoons.
There wasn’t a lot of corn kernels or latik toppings and the maja blanca was a little warm, but I was always given a huge serving on account of being friends with the maja blanca lady.
I struggled a bit to come up with a recipe that I was happy with. I tried to balance the amount of cornstarch with the amount of liquid in the recipe. For a creamier maja blanca, I used coconut milk, condensed milk, and fresh milk but you can always replace the fresh milk with evaporated milk anytime.
I prefer to use creamed corn kernels because they’re less chunky and less prone to pockmarking the maja blanca, but it’s totally fine to use whole kernels, too. In fact, I ran out of creamed corn and had to partially substitute with whole kernels.
Once the coconut milk, condensed milk, and fresh milk are heated, take a few tablespoons and stir them with the dissolved cornstarch. This sort of insulates the cornstarch and prevents it from cooking as soon as you put it in.
Don’t forget to stir constantly once you have added the cornstarch. Based on my estimate, it takes around 7-10 minutes for the mixture to thicken. Cook until the mixture is thick enough (like paste) that it drops in globs and sticks to your ladle.
You can top it with toasted coconut flakes, latik, cheese, or corn kernels before serving. Enjoy!Print