Enyucado, Panama’s Beloved Yuca and Coconut Cake

enyucados Panama

Recipe by Lisa Kear
Written by Isabelle Banin

Enyucado is a savory-sweet cake that brings Lisa Kear beautiful memories of her grandmother and her years growing up in Panama. Enyucado was then and is now one of her favorite desserts. Lisa can’t remember the first time she ate this macaroon-like cake, since her grandmother made it so often (lucky her).

Lisa loves enyucado for its unique flavor, lightness and the fact that it’s not too sweet. Another reason she finds her grandmother’s recipe so memorable is its use of ground anise, which takes the flavor to a whole different level. 

Lisa grew up on her grandparents’ 10-acre farm in Panama. Her grandmother was born and raised in Panama by Spanish and Greek parents, while her grandfather was American. Although her grandfather went to college and became a teacher in the States, after a few years he realized that he didn’t enjoy teaching and joined the Navy. The Navy stationed him in Panama, where he met Lisa’s grandmother. Her grandfather decided he hated living at the base, and moved his family to a farm in the countryside as soon as he could—which is how Lisa and her sister grew up on a finca in Panama.

As a child, Lisa spent as much time outside on the land as she did in the kitchen. Her family grew as much as they could, from coffee to mangoes to almost everything they ate. Her grandmother taught her how to make this dessert from freshly grated yuca and coconut planted right by their house. Both yuca and coconut grow in abundance in Panama all year round, so the enyucado of Lisa’s childhood was always made from the freshest ingredients.  

Where to Buy Yuca

Today, Lisa makes enyucado with the same recipe and preparation as her grandmother. The one difference is that Lisa buys her coconut and yuca frozen from the local Asian grocery store near her home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Frozen tastes just fine, says Lisa.

She used to make this dish frequently for her family, but now that her girls are off to college and grad school, she saves it for special occasions. Lisa especially loves bringing enyucado to parties and finds that it always impresses—even those who don’t know they love yuca (yet).   

If you like this recipe, check out Lisa’s other Panamanian dishes, including: her family-famous beef empanadas, her Familia Kitchen Recipe Contest-winning Panamanian flan, her sweet guava-and-cheese empanadas, her Panamanian pollo guisado (stewed chicken) with spaghetti, and her amazing handmade precoooked corn tortillas.

Ready to Bake Lisa’s Panamanian Enyucado Cake?

Enyucado, Panama’s Beloved Yuca and Coconut Cake

4 from 4 votes
Recipe by Lisa Kear Cuisine: Panamanian
Servings

8 to 10

servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

45

minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 oz 16 yuca or cassava, frozen, grated

  • 14 oz 14 coconut, unsweetened, frozen, grated

  • 1 cup 1 sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 dried anise, ground

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  • Thaw the yuca and grated coconut in the refrigerator, if frozen. Grate the yuca. If using fresh yuca, peel and grate it.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch square or 7- x 9-inch rectangular pan and set aside.
  • Once yuca and coconut are thawed and grated, place them in a large bowl. Add the sugar and ground anise. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the melted butter and stir.
  • Spread the mixture in the buttered baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes until the mixture is golden brown and a knife into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool slightly and serve warm.

Notes

  • When shopping for yuca, remember that cassava and yuca are names for the same vegetable. Manioc and tapioca also come from the yuca root.
Lisa, center, with daughter Sarah and Mary-Elizabeth Kear
Lisa, center, with her daughters Sarah and Mary Elizabeth—both big fans of her enyucado dessert.

Photo: Michelle Ezratty Murphy

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