To align with Western concepts, many sweet Filipino treats are simply called “dessert” though they’re not necessarily eaten after a meal. Oftentimes, they are a mid-afternoon snack, or traditionally they were.
These days of course, even haluhalo is considered a mainstream dessert that can be enjoyed after lunch or dinner.
The native Tagalog word for “dessert” is pang-himagas.
Here are examples of what can be considered native Filipino desserts. ginataan
: root crops cooked in thickened gata
; usually served warm
hopia: bakery product stuffed with sweet mashed beans or sometimes a pork mixture
yema: sweet treat made from egg yolks and condensed milk
banana-cue: saba deep-fried in oil with brown sugar; name derived from ‘barbecue’
turon: fritter of saba enfolded in spring-roll wrapper and deep-fried in oil
leche flan: custard made from eggs, evaporated milk and sugar
ensaymada: light brioche topped with grated cheese
kakanin: Filipino delicacies in general, usually with rice as a main ingredient
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Maja Blanca is a “white beauty” of a pudding that has coconut milk as an essential ingredient.
This recipe for Maja Blanca yields 8 servings.
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Espasol is a Filipino rice-flour treat in the shape of a slender tube. It is distinguished not only for having glutinous (sticky) rice as a main flour, but also for being finished with a dusting of rice flour.
This simple espasol recipe yields 4 servings.
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Ginataan is a stew of ingredients cooked in coconut milk, which we call gata.
The savory kind of ginataan can have shrimp as a main ingredient. A popular version is sweet with fruits like jackfruit, balls of glutinous rice flour called bilubilo, and root crops like purple yam.
In recent years, Philippine milk brands like Alaska and Angel have also promoted the addition of evaporated milk to make the concoction even sweeter.
The following ginataan recipe is for a more traditional kind of ginataang bilubilo, which should be good for serving eight people.
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Palitaw means “to surface” and this refers to the flat oval-shaped pieces of rice dough floating to the top of boiling water once they are cooked. This easy palitaw recipe is for making 20 servings.
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root word: tamis
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Leche Flan is the Filipino version of crème caramel, a rich custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top. The traditional mold used in the Philippines is an oval-shaped metal baking pan called llanera. These days ceramic ramekins or custard cups are used for convenience.
It takes some luck making it just right so that the leche flan will hold its shape when removed from the mold. This simple recipe sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Follow at your own risk.
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Carioca are balls of dough deep fried in oil. They’re similar to beignets, the fried dough goodies from Louisiana. This carioca recipe yields 40 pieces.
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