Quesillo (Coconut Creme Caramel)

Quesillo (Coconut caramel cream)

The main agricultural crop in the Dominican Republic is sugar, so it is not surprising that sweets are an important part of Dominican cuisine. The national passion for very sweet coffee is a testament to the Dominican “sweet tooth” so it follows that Dominicans should adore their sweets, cakes and desserts.

This Quesillo (Coconut creme caramel) is one of the most popular ones.

Quesillo (Coconut caramel cream)

Some Dominican dessert favorites, like creme caramel/flan, bread pudding/pudin de pandulce de leche and rice pudding/arroz con leche, are not exclusively Dominican, but many others are typically Dominican and provide a mouth-watering reflection of the abundant riches of the land. Dominican foremothers were certainly creative and inventive in devising the most delicious preparations with what the land has to offer. Tropical fruits that grow in the Dominican Republic, like papaya, guava and pineapple; grains like corn, and even root vegetables like sweet potato all find their way into dessert dishes. Coconut and peanuts also feature heavily in Dominican sweets.

The more unusual dishes deserve a special mention. Majarete is a yummy creamy pudding based on sweet corn, sold on roadsides and at all Dominican cake shops. The humble sweet potato is made into a tasty jalea de batata or pan de batataArepa in the Dominican Republic is a sweet pudding, made with coconut and maize. It is nothing like its Venezuelan namesake which is a blandish savory pattie. Jalao is a cheap and cheerful sweetmeat made with coconut and honey, lovely with coffee as a light sweet after a meal or as a roadside snack. Coconetes, simple coconut cookies, are sold at every colmado.

Quesillo (Coconut caramel cream)

Roasted peanuts are used to make the toasty and tasty tooth-crunching dulce de mani, but who could forget habichuelas con dulce? This sweet bean cream is traditionally eaten at Easter time, and has a special place in the heart of all Dominicans. Exiles yearn for it, and every visitor to a Dominican home during the habichuelas con dulce season, having eaten their fill, is rarely allowed to leave the house without at least a week’s supply. Foreigners usually approach this concoction with caution, unaccustomed as they are to the alien concept of eating sweetened beans.

Then we have the empress of all Dominican desserts, the Dominican cake, compulsory for all special occasions and celebrations. You just have to read our Dominican Cooking forums to see the reverence, pride and passions it inspires, and the perfectionism and love that goes into creating this elaborate culinary work of art.

Quesillo (Coconut caramel cream)

Different parts of the Dominican Republic have their typical regional sweets and desserts, perhaps the most famous being Bani, in the south west of the country. Santo Domingo’s colonial zone is home to several specialist sweet shops selling a wide range of these Dominican sweetmeats.

All these wonderful sweets and desserts are distinctively, deliciously Dominican. It is strange though, that coffee and cocoa, the most important Dominican crops along with sugar, do not appear as ingredients in Dominican dessert recipes. Or is Dominican coffee, served sweeter than sweet, a dessert in itself when downed after a meal?

The recipes for Dominican Quesillo (Coconut creme caramel) and flan may look the same to the naked eye… well, they are almost the same. But by using both yolks and egg whites quesillo has a different, lighter texture and the coconut milk adds a whole new layer of goodness.

The original recipe upon which ours is based was given to us by Adriana, one of our readers.

Aunt Ilana
Quesillo (Coconut caramel cream)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The recipes for quesillo and flan may look the same to the naked eye... well, they are almost the same. But by using both yolks and egg whites quesillo has a different, lighter texture.
Serves: 6 servings
For caramel
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ⅓ cup of water
For custard
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 medium)
  • 1½ cups of condensed milk
  • 1½ cups of coconut milk
For decoration
  • ½ of toasted coconut shavings (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 350 ºF
To make the caramel
  1. Mix sugar and water and cook in heavy saucepan over low heat until a thick, light brown caramel syrup forms.
  2. Pour carefully into 9" [23 cm] baking pan and cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Be careful, as hot caramel is indeed very hot and the pan will get very hot too. Set aside to cool down until the caramel hardens.
For the flan
  1. Mix together eggs, sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk.
  2. Sieve to get rid of undissolved egg parts.
  3. Pour carefully into baking pan, trying not to disturb the caramel layer.
  4. Bake in hot water bath (bain marie) in oven for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool down to room temperature
  6. Loosen edges of flan, place a serving plate on top of the mold (one which will retain the syrup) and invert.
  7. Chill thoroughly before serving. Garnish with the coconut shavings.
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{ 10 comments… add one }

  • delba October 25, 2014, 5:41 PM

    I will be doing this one, I always do flan but something new will b good.

  • ibis April 20, 2014, 9:43 PM


  • Grace August 22, 2013, 2:38 PM

    I wonder, if I could, hypothetically, use coconut cream instead of milk. I imagine it would take a little longer to cook though.

    • Aunt Clara August 22, 2013, 3:58 PM

      Hypothetically? Possibly. :)

      The flavor and texture might change, and I am not sure if this recipe would work for that, but I bet is worth a try.

  • Steve June 3, 2013, 6:33 PM

    The recipe only calls for coconut milk in the ingredients and directions. However the picture included with the recipe, clearly shows shredded coconut, and it appears to be toasted? Or do you sprinkle it on prior to baking and it browns as it bakes?

    • Aunt Clara June 3, 2013, 6:34 PM

      It’s only for decoration. It’s not traditionally added.

  • Ava March 1, 2013, 12:42 PM

    You’ve left out what sort of baking pan you use. Would it be the smallest round pan I can find?

  • The Hsinru Social June 27, 2012, 4:19 PM

    Hello! I am interested in making this for my next Hsinru Social. I am wondering, for the end product, does this mean the caramel is on the bottom, and flan part is ontop? And when you cut in; in the cross section you will see two distinct layers? I just want to make sure I am doing your recipe justice.

    Thank you kindly for your advice.

    • Aunt_Clara June 27, 2012, 6:58 PM

      Have you ever made flan (http://www.dominicancooking.com/983-flan-caramel-cream.html)? – and if you haven't you totally must. This recipe is very similar to flan. The hard caramel is used to coat the pan, once cooking the outer layer of the quesillo sets and the caramel melts, this way the quesillo (and flan) doesn't stick to the pan and the coconut infuses the caramel turning into a delicious sauce to accompany the quesillo.

      I hope this was clear enough, please feel free to ask if you have any doubts.

  • Angela I. January 31, 2011, 4:00 PM

    Wow looks yummy!

    Angela & Angelica