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A favorite dessert at the end of a meal in many Hispanic countries is a simple but habit-forming pudding called majarete. In some countries this is made with rice flour, in other with corn, and in a few with both. In most but not all coconut milk is used (not the water from the inside of the shell (see Take Two - Coconut Milk) for a rich flavor and extra nutrition. Some people make it so soft it jiggles, others so stiff it can be sliced and eaten by hand. Sometimes it's made with scraped new corn kernels.

This is an easy corn version; the coconut is optional, or you may add 1/2 tsp. coconut extract along with the vanilla. It is not quite as sweet as most Hispanics prefer, so you could add more sugar if desired, or artificial sweetener may be used to cut calories. Some recipes call for a tablespoon of butter or oil, but that is entirely unnecessary.

Majarete (Corn Pudding)

2 cups milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fine yellow corn meal
pinch salt
1 15- or 16-oz can cream style corn
1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Place milk and coconut in a non-stick pan over high-medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Turn very low while you combine the water, cornmeal and salt. Pour the milk through a strainer little by little into the cornmeal, mixing well. Press milk out of coconut and set coconut aside. Return milk mixture to heat, and bring to a boil again. Turn heat very low and cook for 10 to fifteen minutes, stirring frequently. 

Place creamed corn, cornstarch and sugar in a blender or food processor. Add coconut if desired for a stronger flavor, although it will make a slightly less smooth pudding. Process until smooth. Add to cooking cornmeal mixture little by little, stirring constantly. Turn up heat a bit and continue to cook and stir until mixture boils and is thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Pour into a greased casserole dish or pan, or into individual dessert dishes (makes about eight servings). Mix together the remaining 2 tsp. of sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the top. Chill well.

I sometimes make this in the microwave; it works fine too.  
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