Right now, we’re in the middle of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Living in Southern California, you could say we celebrate Hispanic heritage every day, but this month also serves as a reminder of the breadth of what Hispanic heritage means and how deeply entwined it is with American culture overall.
Because Hispanic heritage is America’s heritage.
But it seems that’s a lesson we’re still learning. Last month, after Hurricane Fiona blew through Puerto Rico, a Fox News (“news”?) anchor comparing Puerto Rico (and Cuba) to the mainland U.S. noted “Thank God, we have better infrastructure in our country.”
Honey, as an American territory, Puerto Rico is “our country.” Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Their failing infrastructure is our failing infrastructure. And mainland states certainly have their share of poor infrastructure (Exhibit A: Texas’s super-weak power grid).
So it seems right to spotlight Puerto Rico’s cuisine for this Hispanic heritage month – in this case, a dessert from Coconuts and Collards in which author Von Diaz highlights the fare of Puerto Rico, where she was born, and Atlanta, where she grew up.
This Dark Chocolate-Ancho Chile Cake is a spicy-sweet treat>>
Made with just five ingredients, this classic Puerto Rican dessert that also happens to be vegan. You’ll find plenty of end-of-summer corn at farmers’ markets, and this is a delicious way to use it. If you find fresh coconut milk, but all means use that, but I made it with canned and it turned out great. The corn lends plenty of sweetness, so there’s not a ton of sugar, while the star anise infuses it with subtle warm-spiced notes.
Fresh Corn & Coconut Pudding
9 ears corn, shucked
2 cups fresh or canned coconut milk
¾ cup sugar
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 star anise pod
Trim kernels from corn and place in a blender. Holding each cob over the blender, scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to remove any “milk.” Add coconut milk, sugar and salt. Blend 1 minute or until smooth.
Pour corn mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan, pressing solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Add star anise pod to pan. Place pan over high heat. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Discard star anise pod.
Pour mixture into an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking dish (or decant it into 6-8 small ramekins). Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set, and up to overnight.