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Ube Halaya: A Filipino Tradition Taking Over the Dessert World

Homemade Ube Halaya_1

Ube Halaya has been part of our family’s New Year’s tradition for as long as I can remember (is it yours too?). It is one of the things I look forward to for Media Noche, when I get to taste hot off the wok Ube Halaya. There are years that we sadly skipped making it because of the lack of literal man power – when my father and brother were abroad working; but this year we have all the man power we need! Yey! My father, brother, uncle and my husband are all on stand-by for this arm-breaking recipe so we are definitely making it for our New Year’s celebration. It takes about two hours of constant stirring to get the right thick and chewy texture for about 2 kilos of ube (peeled) and it is painful. I know! My husband and I prepared the Ube Halaya featured in the photographs here. My mother asked us to make it as per requested by her sister residing in Japan, where she went for a vacation last October. Nonetheless, it is every bit worth it!!!

Ube Halaya is love and I am so happy to find out that the flavor is making big strides in the international dessert scene as of late, especially in the United States and Canada. I say it’s about time! The Ube flavor is part and parcel of Filipino heritage and culture much like Matcha is for the Japanese and yet we’ve not really been loud and proud about it. We should be! I sometimes think that the natural richness and diversity of fresh produce here in the Philippines has made us all oblivious to its value and distinction. We often fail to recognize the privilege of having access to all these natural deliciousness that the rest of the world can only dream of just like the Ube root crop (AND MANY MANY MORE!). As a result, we do not really use many of these fresh produce to develop products we can be proud to share to the rest of the world.

Golden Cristal Ube Donuts by Manila Social Club in New York ($1000 per dozen!!!)

 

Ube Leche Flan by Lamesa in Toronto, Canada

 

Purple Soft Serve in New York

I am personally guilty of this. I have always felt that temperate countries are so much more blessed because of their berries and the desserts that they are able to whip up with these fruits. I failed to take a closer look at the abundance and variety that I already have access to here in the Philippines; and the limitless dessert possibilities that I can explore and create. Why should I get stuck on creating the classic Blueberry Cheesecake when I can make Mango Cheesecake, Ube Cheesecake or my very own Pinoy Cheesecake? The world has been missing a lot because of our disregard for our own flavors. We try so hard to copy or import what other countries have. It is well and good in the spirit of learning and expanding our horizon but we should go beyond just being mere recipients. We should actively and aggressively contribute to the global delicious pool by using our local produce more. We have so much to give! So many flavors and textures waiting to be explored. For example, I have not seen any Kamias- or Duhat-based dessert in the mainstream or encountered a Chesa Pie or Aratiles Pie. Have you? It is my dream to be able to develop such recipes. I am targeting to make at least six desserts using local fruits or with a Filipino flair in the coming year. Cross your fingers with me! =D

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Homemade Ube Halaya
This is a classic Filipino dessert that we traditionally make for Media Noche (New Year) in our family. It is difficult to find authentic store-bought versions so it is best to just make it at home.
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For the Latik
  1. Fresh Coconut Milk (3 Niyog)
For the Halaya
  1. 3 kilos Ube
  2. 5 cans (300g/can) Condensed Milk
  3. 2 cans (410ml/can) + 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
  4. 1/2 to 3/4 cup Coconut Oil
For the Latik
  1. Cook Fresh Coconut Oil over medium heat until curdled and browned
  2. Set aside the resulting Coconut Oil for use later
For the Halaya
  1. Cut the Ube into equal big chunks and boil until cooked through and peel (the peelings will weigh about a kilo)
  2. Manually grate
  3. Add 2 cans (410ml/can) + 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk and refine using a food processor or blender for a smoother texture
  4. Add 5 cans (300g/can) Condensed Milk
  5. Cook over medium heat and constantly stir until everything comes together (about two hours so prepare your arms =p)
  6. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Coconut Oil (batch by batch) as the Halaya starts to come together
To Assemble
  1. Brush with Coconut Oil or Margarine
  2. Top with Latik
Notes
  1. We failed to cut the Ube into equal big chunks before boiling so it did not cook evenly
  2. Skip refining the grated ube if you prefer a chunky Halaya
  3. For best flavor, use condensed filled milk or condensed pure milk as well as evaporated filled milk or evaporated pure milk (just a little bit more expensive)
  4. You can also use grated cheese as topping
The BuckEAT List http://www.thebuckEATlist.com/

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