Here’s a recipe given by Pacao and Cabanela for one of Bicol’s popular desserts: maja blanca, made with—what else—coconut milk.
2 c cornstarch
3 c coconut milk (kakang gata-see tips)*
1 c evaporated milk
1 c + 2 tbsp white sugar
Latik topping (optional, see recipe below)
Combine cornstarch with coconut milk and evaporated milk. Stir well until cornstarch is dissolved. Strain the mixture into a thick-bottomed, wide pan or casserole, then add sugar.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and becomes almost solid, around 20 minutes.
Pour mixture into a serving dish and smooth the top. If desired, top with the latik, then chill until firm before serving.
For the latik (coconut granules) topping:
1 c coconut milk (kakang gata- see tips)*
In a thick-bottomed, wide pan, heat the coconut milk over low heat, stirring constantly so the bottom does not burn.
Let mixture simmer until the liquid has evaporated and tiny brown granules form (the oil will separate from the granules). Transfer granules to a clean bowl and use as topping for the maja blanca.
*Kakang gata is the first extraction of coconut milk from squeezed coconut meat. It’s thicker than the second extraction of coconut milk. For this recipe, use the first extraction, or you can also use canned coconut milk.
If using the canned variety, choose the ones labeled coconut cream—this comes from the first extraction. Canned coconut cream is available in the baking section of major supermarkets.
Be sure to use thick-bottom pans so the coconut milk does not burn.
To smooth the top of the maja blanca after you’ve poured it into the serving dish, use an offset spatula.