Bebinga de Leite


Coconut and milk pudding

This is an old, popular Macanese dessert which, like many Portuguese dishes, uses many eggs. Originally it was prepared by boiling shredded coconut, wrapping it in cloth and squeezing out the juice with much effort. It also involved gentle cooking for a very long time, with continuous stirring to avoid burning. Nowadays tinned coconut juice is readily available and cooking can be done more quickly using a microwave oven.

Four versions are presented here. Most recipes use corn flour but the last shown below, adapted from an old recipe, uses rice flour and a microwave oven.

Bebinga de Leite from Laura Yvanovich “Lolita” Alves

6 egg yolks
1 cup cornflour
6 tbs sugar (approx ¾ cup)
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
8oz | 220g desiccated coconut
6 cups water

Boil desiccated coconut in 6 cups water and leave to cool slightly. Squeeze through muslin bag.

Boil sugar in 1 cup water in the saucepan that will be used for cooking the bebinga until all sugar is melted (do not stir).

To strained coconut juice add the cornflour, milk a pinch of salt and the slightly beaten egg yolks which should have been passed through a sieve. Mix well, then add all to the sugar syrup and cook over slow fire until very thick (about 1 hour). Pour into buttered mould.

Grill before serving.

Bebinga de Leite from Carmen Estorninho, courtesy of Jorge Estorninho and Yvonne Husband

1 cup cornflour
1 pkt of coconut cream
9 eggs beaten
1½ cups of sugar
6 cups of water
1 tin of condensed milk
4 oz | 110g butter

Mix all together over medium heat, stirring constantly till the mixture thickens. Pour into a baking dish. Bake at 350°F for one hour till top browns.

Comment: This makes a rather thin bebinga; for a thicker result, reduce the amount of water.

Bebinga de Leite from Stephanie Gordon courtesy of Antoinette Gordon

6 egg yolks
1 cup condensed milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup cornstarch
½ cup butter
2 cans coconut cream
¼ tsp salt

Add water to the two cans of coconut cream to make up 6 cups of fluid. Pour into large saucepan, stir in the condensed milk. Beat the egg yolks and set aside. Remove 1 cup of the cold liquid from the saucepan and stir in the cornstarch, mix well adding more of the liquid if necessary, return to saucepan.

Remove another cup of liquid and blend with egg yolks, return to pan. Add sugar and salt, start heating on a medium flame.

While stirring with a spatula, add pats of butter, stir till it starts to thicken, keeping the flame low.

This is the only tricky part – with a spatula in one hand and the electric beater in the other, beat and scrape sides and bottom constantly for twenty minutes. The resulting pudding should be smooth and satiny, and almost as thick as wall paper paste.

Pour into a lightly buttered 7in.x13in. glass casserole, place under broiler in hot oven till top begins to brown. (Watch carefully).

Let cool completely before cutting into 24 individual squares. Refrigerate.

You can make this beforehand; it is even better the next day.

Bebinga de Leite adapted from Maria Celestina de Mello e Senna.     Read the original recipe | Leia a receita original

1 tin of evaporated milk
2 tins of coconut milk
10 egg yolks
9 oz | 250g rice flour
¼ tsp salt
10½ oz | 300g sugar
½ tin of condensed milk
2 tbsp butter

Variation: Add a tsp of vanilla essence to the mixture.

For this method you need a bowl that can be used in a microwave. Blend the coconut milk and evaporated and condensed milks, sugar and salt, then gradually add the rice flour and egg yolks mixing continuously.

Heat for about 4 minutes on high in a microwave oven, remove and stir. Continue heating in the microwave oven for 1 minute at a time, mixing well after each heating until the mixture is hot and so thick that you can catch sight of the bottom of the bowl when you move a spatula quickly through the mixture.

Pour into large buttered oven-proof mould and grill carefully to produce an attractive burned pattern. (Alternatively, pour into individual serves in small buttered ramekins and burn the top using a kitchen blowtorch.)

Grill before serving.

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