Here’s how to make natilla, a pudding dessert. Many abuelas — Spanish for “grandmothers” — make it using whole cane sugar. But this recipe uses brown sugar instead, which is easier to find in the U.S.
Pour 3½ c. milk into a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Quickly remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile mix the cornstarch with the remaining cup of milk in a bowl until the cornstarch dissolves completely.
Put the pot of milk back on the stove over medium-low heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks and add the coconut if using. Pour in the cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly until it all thickens and you can see the bottom of the pot.
Immediately pour into a serving dish or casserole and let cool at least 1 hour. Then top it with cinnamon powder and serve — with buñuelos if you’d like!