Recipe: Mark and Talia Kurlansky's Haitian Blanc Manger Mamiche

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The most common dessert for poor Haitians, which really is most Haitians, is pan patat, a sweet-potato pudding similar to the dessert for Mexico Night. But for more affluent Haitians, a lighter, more delicate dessert is blanc manger. This dessert, a tropical version of an old French recipe, turns up in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writing and is found most anywhere in Latin America where the French ever ruled, including Mexico and the Dominican Republic. But nowhere has it remained as popular as in Haiti.

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3/4 cup canned coconut milk

3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

a splash of vanilla extract

1 packet gelatin powder

1/2 cup fresh grated coconut


Mix the milk and evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Mix the canned coconut milk and the sweetened condensed milk and add to the hot mixture away from the heat. Add the vanilla.

Dissolve the packet of gelatin in a few ounces of hot water. Stir until completely liquid. Add a spoonful of the warm milk mixture, stir, and then blend the entire gelatin mixture into the heated milk mixture. Pour into individual dessert cups. Toast the grated coconut under a broiler until slightly brown and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate overnight.