When it comes to desserts, you expect them to be made using things like sugar, chocolate and other sweet ingredients. But that is not always the case, especially when you begin sampling desserts from more exotic parts of the world.
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Below you'll find our favorite Filipino dessert recipe, though I do love cassava cake and Filipino sweets in general.
Many Asian countries are known for their delicious desserts, which use an array of unique and exciting ingredients to produce the final dish. From Chinese snowflake cake to Japanese green tea ice cream - this amazing continent has so many wonderful puddings to choose from.
But have you ever wondered what kind of desserts are regularly enjoyed in The Philippines? We feel like this fascinating country often gets overlooked when it comes to its cuisine, which is a shame because Filipino food can be flavorful and decadent - especially when it comes to desserts.
Filipino desserts are primarily made using dense ingredients such as rice and starch, giving you a pudding that is heavy, satisfying and can be enjoyed for both agahan (breakfast) and merienda (an afternoon snack).
So to showcase just how amazing Filipino desserts can be, we have compiled a list of the 23 most authentic Filipino desserts we could find. So take a look and make your tastebuds happy.
1. Ube Halaya
One of the most popular Filipino desserts is Ube Halaya, which is essentially a paste-like jam that is often enjoyed as a topping or spread.
The jam is made using a combination of yams and milk, with its name coming from the Indian word ‘ube’, which translates to purple yam.
Known for its sweet and pungent flavor, the jam is also distinguished by its bright purple hue and is considered a staple of Filipino cuisine - in a similar fashion to Chinese red bean paste.
So if you ever go to The Philippines, don’t be surprised if your ice cream sundae comes with a giant scoop of purple yam jam on top.
Another dessert that is considered a popular staple among the Filipino people, is Hal-Halo - a cool and refreshing dish made from shaved ice.
The dish gets its name from the Filipino word ‘halo’ which means ‘mix’ or ‘stir’, a direct reference to how the dessert is traditionally prepared and served.
When you are given this dessert, you are expected to mix the various ingredients together using a long spoon, making sure that they are fully absorbed by the milky mixture.
Halo-Halo usually features a myriad of ingredients, such as bananas, sweet potatoes, jelly, jackfruit, taro root, coconut and tapioca pearls.
This is then topped off with milk, shaved ice, ube halaya and a scoop of delicious ice cream - what more could you ask for?
If you want to taste a truly decadent Filipino dessert, then we promise you will enjoy sampling some tasty silvanas.
These are essentially crunchy and frozen cookies that are made by taking a layer of Swiss buttercream and sandwiching it between two cashew-flavored meringue wafers.
The meringues are then covered with more buttercream before being coated in a crispy layer of cookie crumbs or ground nuts.
The result is a dessert that is known for its sweet and nutty flavor, as well as its various textures and characteristics.
4. Buko Pandan
You may have noticed that jelly plays a significant role in many Asian desserts, and it seems the colorful substance is also a popular ingredient in The Philippines.
Buko pandan is a simple and creamy dessert that is made using ‘buko’ - a soft coconut that is traditionally shredded before being combined in a bowl with sweet cream and gelatine cubes.
The popular dish is then flavored with a sweet-smelling leaf called pandan, which helps to give the dessert its iconic vanilla-like aroma.
Bursting with a rainbow of flavors and textures, there’s a reason why this particular dessert has remained a popular favorite among the Filipino people for decades.
We all enjoy indulging in a sweet and delicious snack, and we promise you won’t find anything sweeter than carioca.
This popular Filipino dessert is usually sold by vendors on the streets of Manila, and it consists of sticky rice balls that have been coated in a rich coconut caramel sauce.
These delicious balls are made using glutinous rice flour and are traditionally served on bamboo skewers as a sweet afternoon snack.
Bananas often feature as a popular ingredient in a variety of Asian desserts - and in The Philippines, they are used to create one of the most delicious dishes you will ever encounter.
Turon is a classic Filipino dessert that is made using sweet plantains that have been wrapped in a crispy egg pastry and coated in brown sugar.
The banana wraps are then deep-fried in hot oil until they are golden-brown and are traditionally served drizzled in honey alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Blending a variety of different textures, this popular Filipino dessert is known to have a light and refreshing tropical flavor.
7. Leche Flan
Leche Flan is considered one of the most beloved desserts in the whole of The Philippines - and we can see why.
The name of the dish comes from the Spanish ‘Leche de flan’ which refers to a traditional milky dessert created by the Spanish people.
However, the Filipino version of the classic dish is considered a much heavier dessert and features more egg yolks and condensed milk than the original European recipe.
Consisting of a smooth custard that has been drizzled in a thick caramel sauce, this dessert is not only decadent but is the very definition of sinful.
Sponge cakes may seem like a quintessential component of Western cuisine, but they can also be found across the Asian continent, where they are regularly enjoyed as snacks and desserts.
Mamon is a Filipino sponge cake that is traditionally topped with a thin layer of cheese and enjoyed as a sweet afternoon snack.
Although the cake is known for its soft and pillow-like appearance, the addition of the cheese helps to give the dish an added layer of crispiness - providing the consumer with a delicious contrast of textures.
Mamon is usually served alongside breakfast, where the cake’s rich and buttery flavor often pairs well with coffee and tea.
9. Sapin Sapin
Probably one of the most complex desserts on our list, sapin sapin is a festive and colorful dish that is traditionally enjoyed during various holidays and celebrations.
Made using a mixture of glutinous rice dough, condensed milk, sugar and coconut - this pudding-like dessert is known for its chewy texture and is sometimes flavored with purple yams and jackfruit.
The process of making this vibrant confection is considered complicated and time-consuming - as the dessert consists of three layers that have to be individually prepared.
When it is ready, sapin sapin is served alongside a toasted coconut curd and will usually feature three distinctive colors - purple, yellow and white.
10. Maja Blanca
Maja Blanca is yet another popular Filipino dessert that draws its cultural inspiration from a traditional Spanish dish.
With a name that means ‘white delicacy’, Maja Blanca is essentially a coconut milk pudding that is thickened with cornstarch.
The finished dessert has a thick, jelly-like consistency and is known for its smooth and delicate flavor, which is considered to be light and refreshing on the palate.
The recipe for this particular dessert is very simple, as it uses easy-to-obtain ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores.
We all enjoy festive treats around the holidays - such as gingerbread cookies, fruit cake and pumpkin pie. But if there is one Filipino dessert that truly embodies the spirit of Christmas - it’s Bibingka.
Traditionally served by street vendors to celebrate the festive season, bibingka is a hot coconut milk cake that is usually topped with a layer of butter, cheese and slices of salted egg.
The cake is known to have a light and fluffy consistency, while the addition of the cheese and egg help to provide the dessert with a myriad of unique and balanced flavors.
Bibingka is a seasonal treat that can usually be purchased from vendors outside Catholic churches and it is considered the perfect afternoon snack to enjoy after mass.
Most of the Filipino desserts on this list have been bursting with exciting flavors and vibrant colors - and this confection is no different.
Drawing inspiration from the Chinese belief that round desserts symbolize prosperity and fortune - Ginataang bilo bilo is a kind of dessert stew, which consists of rice balls and root vegetables being slowly cooked in a soupy broth that has been sweetened with coconut milk.
The final result is a warm and sticky dessert that is packed with a variety of flavors and textures.
13. Mais Con Yelo
The Philippines as a country is known for its humid climate and boiling summers, and because of this, there is a variety of refreshing desserts that the Filipino people use to combat the heat.
One of the most popular of these icy dishes is Mais on yelo, which means ‘corn with ice’ in Spanish.
Consisting of juicy corn kernels that have been suspended in a sweet and milky broth, this classic dessert is traditionally served in a tall glass and is eaten with a spoon.
Mais con yelo is considered an incredibly simple dish to make, as the recipe only requires canned sweetcorn, sugar and milk.
Although it is supposed to be eaten with a spoon, most Filipino people gulp down the dessert as a drink, keeping themselves cool and hydrated.
Another classic Filipino snack is biko, which are a variety of sticky rice cakes that are traditionally served as a dessert at celebrations such as fiestas and weddings.
The biko cake is made using glutinous rice and coconut milk before it is finally topped with a thick and sticky layer of coconut curd.
Distinguished by its distinctive nutty sweetness, biko can be a time-consuming dessert to make - as the recipe requires the glutinous rice to be constantly stirred for 20-30 minutes.
The top layer of the rice cakes can also be a complex element to make, as it needs to be of a perfect consistency before it can be properly baked.
If you are interested in taking a journey to The Philippines, then there’s one quintessential dessert that you have to try when you get there.
Taho is a popular dessert that is primarily served by street vendors as a traditional breakfast snack.
Featuring a delicious mixture of silky tofu and tapioca pearls, the dish is served swimming in an aromatic brown sugar syrup, which is sweet and devilish.
The dish is traditionally served in a small cup and maybe drunk or eaten with a spoon - trust us, the Filipino people don’t mind how you tackle it.
Although this dessert may not be the healthiest Filipino snack in the country, it makes up for it with its warm and delicious flavor.
16. Egg Pie
We all know custard pies are delicious, but you haven’t tried anything until you have sunk your teeth into an egg pie from The Philippines.
Composed of a rich and buttery pastry that has been filled with a smooth and creamy custard - these delicate pies are made using eggs and condensed milk, which gives them a velvety and overall decadent flavor.
The pies are considered somewhat difficult to make, as they are traditionally baked uncovered in an oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
However, once the pies have fully cooked, the custard tops will begin to crisp and caramelize - giving the dessert its signature charred appearance.
Palitaw may not look like anything extraordinary when you see it, but we assure you that this Filipino dessert is considered a classic for a reason.
The dessert itself consists of a small, round cake that is made from a sweet glutinous rice that has been boiled in water.
The name of the dish means ‘to appear’ in the Filipino language and is a direct reference to how the cakes rise to the surface of the water once they have been cooked.
When the cakes are ready, they are traditionally served as a sweet snack and will be coated in a layer of desiccated coconut, muscovado sugar and dry sesame seeds.
The final result is a sweet and pungent dish that is full of texture and personality.
The Philippines is one of the largest producers of bananas in the world, and so the popular fruit often has a starring role in the country’s cuisine.
Arguably the most iconic species of banana that the country grows is the saba, which is the one kind that is used to create sweet and delicious desserts.
Minatamis na saging is a dessert that consists of saba bananas that have been broiled with brown sugar and hot water.
The result is a smooth and tropical snack that is either served on its own or in a bowl with shaved ice and chewy tapioca.
We all enjoy a delicious cookie with our coffee or tea, and The Philippines is known for one cookie, in particular, that is simple and addictive.
Polvoron is essentially the Filipino version of classic shortbread and it is made using flour, butter, sugar and powdered milk.
However, unlike your usual shortbread recipe, this cookie dough is cooked in a frying pan, with the resulting mixture being shaped into the finished snack.
Polvoron cookies are known for their rich and crumbly texture and they are a beloved part of Filipino culture.
20. Buko Pie
Recognized as one of the finest delicacies in The Philippines, buko pie is a devilish dessert that originated in the province of Laguna.
The dessert is a traditional coconut pie, which consists of a buttery pastry that has been filled with a paste made from soft young coconuts.
The delicious snack can be purchased across the country, where it is usually sold by restaurants, market stalls and street vendors.
Buko pie is considered a pasalubong, which means a type of food that is traditionally given as a gift or souvenir.
Here we have another Filipino kakanin, which means a dessert that uses rice as its primary ingredient.
Puto are small and round rice cakes that are usually steamed and served alongside other traditional Filipino dishes - although, they are also delicious on their own.
Because the cakes are made using glutinous rice, they are known to have a soft and pillowy consistency and are very moreish once consumed.
22. Buko Salad
Buko salad is yet another Filipino dessert that utilizes coconut to get its rich and distinctive flavor.
Consisting of a mixture of various fruits, palm fruits, coconut and jelly, this salad is traditionally served cold and smothered in a thick cream.
Bursting with flavor and colors, this salad is the most delicious and refreshing way to round off a large meal.
Fruit salad is often served as a staple dish at many Filipino parties and celebrations and is particularly popular around the holidays.
Like most fruit salads, there is no defined list of ingredients for this luscious dessert, and it will usually consist of various fruits and jellies.
The only thing that truly separates Filipino fruit salad from other recipes, is that the finished dessert will often be served with a decent smothering of condensed milk or all-purpose cream.
The final result is a dessert that is refreshing, sweet and the very definition of a crowd-pleaser.
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