Purple Yam Fudge (Halayang Ube)
I remember a couple of Christmas and New Year days in my childhood, and those were spent visiting houses of other grandparents, aunts and uncles and even friends of my mother’s. And every single house I had gone to accompanied by my mother or aunt or grandmother, I was always handed a platito (saucer) with a slice of Halayang Ube (purple yam fudge). Now, proper etiquette for visitors here is to always welcome and be gracious to anything the hostess offers or serves you, I never had a problem following this particular rule of etiquette, most specially if it is food that is generously shared to me.
By tasting about 3 or 4 versions of Halayang Ube from each house I visited at the end of the festive day, I somehow, and although a bit embarrassed to admit, haven’t had the resolve (even at an early age) NOT to be a silent judge and NOT knit-pick and compare (like a Top Chef judge) each purple yam fudge I tasted.
One can tell which home spent hours cooking and stirring their purple yam fudge and which did not, and even who was patient and meticulous enough to not let any chocolate chip-size morsel of boiled purple yam get mixed up with the finely grated mound, and who was not that particular in making their halaya close to lump-free perfection in texture.
There are, I think, close to a dozen arguments on how to make the best Halayang Ube throughout this country. But all I wish to divulge is how I make mine.
- You have to buy the best looking purple yams with the most intense purple colour, which can range from bright lavender to Barney purple to really deep dark purple (almost verging into blackish in colour).
- You can either boil or bake the purple yams, skin still on (this way none of the gorgeous purple colour bleeds out of the root vegetable) until very tender. Finely grate the yams using a fine grater, or for your modern-day convenience, use a food processor- cut the boiled (or baked) and peeled yams into medium dices. Fill the food processor tub half full (for each batch) with the yams and blitz/puree.
- The amount of milk (both condensed milk and evaporated milk) is as much as important as the amount of purple yam is. The creaminess and richness of the milk should compliment and enhance the starchy quality of the purple root veg.
- Use a large non-stick (teflon coated) pan to cook the mixture. I do recommend using a big and sturdy silicone (very heat resistant) spatula to stir the mixture, and also by using a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon, you can conveniently scrape all the sticky mixture away from the base of the pan preventing scorching or burnt bottom.
- And finally, patience is really the key element in making this decadent confection. For the amount of purple yam fudge mixture in this recipe, you have to cook and constantly stir it for 3-3 1/2 hours on a stove top over medium heat or until the fudge when stirred, can be lifted off the pan like a dense dough. The best characteristic of a very good Halayang Ube is that is it chewy and dense and rich and toothsome.
2 kilos finely grated purple yams, prepared*
*(boiled or baked with skin still on until fork tender, then peeled and finely grated or blitzed in a food processor)
4 cans condensed milk
2 cans evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup melted butter + 2 Tablespoon softened butter (to lightly coat the moulds the purple yam fudge will be poured to be moulded and set)
1 teaspoon salt
Prepare moulds- coat the base and sides of dish moulds with softened butter.
- In a large non-stick pan or even teflon coated wok (much suggested and preferred) , combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix until homogenised.
- Place pan over medium heat. From this point, you only have to stand in front of the stove and your pan of purple yam mixture for the next 3- 3 1/2 hours- constantly stirring, making sure the bottom of the mixture doesn’t get scorched and burnt.
- After working the hours stirring the fudge, it becomes chewy and much like a very heavy and dense dough, and you can see that the mixture easily lifts itself off the pan. At this stage, turn off heat.
- Divide purple yam fudge into prepared moulds/dish. Smoothen the surface of the fudge with an offset or regular spatula lightly coated with softened butter (this will make the surface shiny). Cool completely and let it set.
- Slice according to preference.
Makes about 3 kilos
Note : Arms, neck and shoulder massage is recommended… most probably inevitable, afterwards. :)
Purple Yam Fudge (Halayang Ube)
Purple yam fudge or more natively known as Halayang Ube (in the Philippines) is one of the decadent confections that is always made during the holiday season. And is always served during Christmas (Pasko), New Year’s Eve (Bagong Taon) and even Fiestas.
Halayang Ube is made by finely grating boiled purple yams, adding to it condensed milk, evaporated milk (other provinces even use fresh water buffalo’s (carabao) milk), sugar, butter and a bit of vanilla flavour. The mixture is then slowly cooked and constantly stirred for hours over medium heat until it gets thick and chewy. It is then moulded into serving platters or whatever serving vessel and is served in slices.
I stood for 3 1/2 hours in front of the stove cooking this until the sweet and milky purple puree turned into a chewy deep dark purple mass.
This confection is indeed a labour of love, and really, a test of one’s virtue of patience. But the end product is absolutely delicious!
Maple and Almond Nut Tarts
Although this is my most requested pastry product by my customers, and that I always struggle with a virtue called patience, I sometimes loathe making this tart… actually it’s the pressing and moulding the sweet dough (tart shell) into mini muffin pans that always tests my patience and makes me go nutty with impatience.
But to those who are more blessed with this particular virtue, here is the recipe.
Sweet Dough (tart shell)
2 1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour (*spooned gently into measuring cup, do not tap or shake cup when measuring)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 whole egg
- In a food processor, pulse all sweet dough ingredients together until the dough comes together.
- Wrap dough in cling film, and chill for 30 minutes inside the fridge.
Maple and Almond Filling
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
4 cups coarsely chopped almonds (or you can also use slivered almonds)
- Mix all filling ingredients together and set the mixture aside.
- Preheat oven at 350’F
- You will need 4 mini (12-mould) muffin pans.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and scoop 1 tablespoon of dough into each mini muffin mould. Press dough and create a cylindrical indentation to hold the filling.
- Spoon filling in each prepared unbaked shells.
- Bake tarts for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown.
- Lift tarts from moulds 5 minutes after taking the pans out of the oven. Cool tarts on wire racks.
Makes 48 mini tarts
Espresso-Dark Chocolate Truffles
I know that there are only a few people in this world who are not that crazy about chocolates, so just to be sure, I flavoured these dark chocolate truffles with espresso. And although I served these truffles in a coffee cup, I much prefer washing two of these down with earl grey tea.
(Black Forest Cupcakes, Maple-Butterscotch Fudge, Spiced Carrot Birthday Cake)
I always believe that if you give anybody something in the form of sustenance, something edible and that they can genuinely enjoy by themselves or even share with their loved ones, relationships of any kind becomes more comfortable and bonding. I mean food is always in the centre of any gathering or occasion, and so in my personal opinion, a gift of food is the most sensible thing one can confidently give without any apprehension of it being returned or made into a dust collector the day after.
I do not need to write about how brilliant a box of Cupcakes is to give to anyone… a significant number of the world’s population with sweet tooth loves cake, it is individually portioned, therefore, instantly shareable, and cupcakes are always neither underdressed nor overdressed in any event or celebration.
Confections , specially those homemade and handmade are the perfect gifts for those people who you consider close and dear to you. It is something about the patience and thoughtfulness that were part of the process in making candy that suggests it should definitely be given only to those who also give kindness, patience and thoughtfulness in your life.
Old school and homemade Birthday Cake…
adlib: [Although September (ahem, the 12th) is my birthday month and I did made this homey birthday cake, for the record, I don’t think I have the guts to bake and give myself a birthday cake. If I were to wish for something to stick a wishing candle into, it will either be a 20-inch pizza (with all my favourite toppings plus extra extra cheese) or a jelly donut pyramid! Mmmmm…]
Call me old fashioned, even call me old, but I still believe that buttercream frosted birthday cake with retro buttercream flowers over retro buttercream vines and leaves is still the proper birthday cake… period!
And this old school (Spiced Carrot Cake) birthday cake is for my grandmother for her to stick her birthday candle tomorrow. :)
Before Summer Says “Goodbye” : Strawberry-Balsamic Cherry Swirl Lemon Curd Ice Cream
I always associate ruby-red cherries and strawberries, and bright yellow lemons with summer but who doesn’t anyways for this particular season.
With cherries I always think of those 1940’s sundresses with cherry prints and with lemons… of course it will always be lemonade, sipping it with a long swirly straw (…ok, that’s just me!) under the sun.
I know that the combination of strawberry and lemon for an ice cream flavour has been around for ages. So I figured why not make a teeny tiny twist to a classic combo and incorporate some sassiness.
The classic and traditional way of making ice cream is you make a custard with egg yolks, sugar, a mixture of full fat milk and cream, and flavouring. Then you dump the custard mixture into an ice cream machine, or in the old days, putting it in a tightly lidded can and rolling the can non-stop for a very long time with your own two hands over ice and salt.
My version is more of a deconstructed process of making ice cream.
I cooked the lemon curd first, then made my own strawberry-balsamic and cherry jam, and when these two components were cooled, I whipped the lemon curd and milk and cream mixture and folded half of the jam and swirled the rest gingerly throughout the ice cream mix.
For the Lemon Curd
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornflour/cornstarch
1 1/3 cups water
pinch of salt
zests of 2 lemons
1/3 cup lemon juice
- In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together. Mix and dissolve cornstarch and pinch of salt in water then combine these two mixtures together and cook in a sauce pan over low heat.
- Continue whisking the egg custard mixture until thickened. Turn off heat and whisk in the lemon juice.
- Transfer lemon curd in a bowl and cover the surface with cling film (making sure the cling film is touching the surface of the lemon curd) and cool at room temperature. Set aside.
For the Strawberry-Balsamic Cherry Jam
4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled and sliced into quarters
1 cup Maraschino cherries, stemmed and sliced in halves
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2/3 cup sugar
- In a sauce pan, put all ingredients together and cook until mixture gets slightly thick, the consistency should be a like a runny jam.
note: As jam cools it will get more thick, so a bit of a runny jam consistency is what you want when you remove the mixture from heat to cool.
- Cool jam at room temperature. Set aside.
For the Ice Cream Base
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- With a whisk or electric hand mixer, beat on medium speed the milk, cream and cooled lemon curd until slightly aerated.
- Fold in half of the jam mixture into the ice cream mixture and continue to beat but on low (hand mixer) speed just enough to make a homogenized mixture.
- Swirl the remaining jam throughout the ice cream mixture as gently as you can with a kitchen spoon or rubber spatula.
- Either transfer the ice cream mixture in an ice cream maker (check settings and instructions) or (for those without an ice cream machine) put ice cream mixture in a rectangular container, freeze for 2-2 1/2 hours until slightly frozen and beat the mixture again with a hand or stand mixer. Transfer the whipped (almost soft-serve in consistency) mixture back in the freezer until well set and ready to eat.
Makes 6 cups
Goddess of Scrumptiousness Food Photography and Original Recipes by Jeannie Maristela are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Mango-Lemon Creamsicle Tart
I thought of making a frozen dessert that is very befitting to eat as a sweet finale to an al fresco lunch on a hot and humid summer day. The sweet and cheerful flavour of fresh mangoes and the bright citrusy tang of lemons and yogurt makes every bite of this tart a burst of cool sunshine.
I named it a creamsicle tart because it does taste exactly like a creamsicle bar.
For the crust:
2 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 melted butter
For the filling:
5 cups mini marshmallows (vanilla flavored)
1 cup mango puree (2-3 mango cheeks blitzed in a blender/food processor)
zests of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 envelopes of unflavored gelatine powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup lemon or mango flavored yogurt
In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Blend well until mixture resembles damp sand. Press and tightly pack the mixture in a 12 x 3 inch springform (means it has a removable bottom) baking pan. Cover and chill in the freezer until filling is ready.
For the filling, put marshmallows, mango puree, lemon juice, lemon zests and granulated sugar in a medium size sauce pan over medium heat. Slowly melt the marshmallows until all ingredients turn into a syrupy mixture. Add the bloomed gelatine (gelatine dissolved in cold water) and wait for it to get dissolved in the marshmallow-mango mixture. Cool and set aside.
With a hand beater/stand mixer on medium speed, beat the heavy cream and yogurt for 2-3 minutes. Fold in the cooled marshmallow-mango mixture, incorporating it well.
Pour filling on the prepared and chilled graham crust. Cover and freeze the tart for 8 hours or much better, freeze overnight. Serve frozen and keep left-overs frozen (if ever there will be left-overs! ;) )
Basking in the warm summer sun and relishing the sweetness of Orange, Maple and Walnut Pudding
As I’ve mentioned a few times now, I love shooting food in natural light. Not only do I capture food in its natural beauty but it saves me a lot of time with the editing process.
These days I am shooting food either by the window or outdoors (not necessarily in direct sunlight, but somewhere nicely lit at the same time shaded).
More than the number of times I mentioned my fondness for shooting in natural light is the number of times I declared, and announced quite proudly, my absolute love of stale bread. I mean of course freshly baked bread is always the best to appease most people’s discerning carbohydrate cravings, but for me, I can do much more delicious dishes and make much more humble uses for stale bread other than smearing butter or pb & jam on slices of its fresh-out-of-the-oven counterpart.
With stale bread I make breadcrumbs (even better, I make my own seasoned breadcrumbs) to use as binders and extenders for meatloaf and meatballs, as breading for deep-fried dishes like schnitzels (scallopine) and to make crunchy toppings for baked mac and cheese, potato gratin and casseroles.
If I am not blitzing the semi-dry bread into crumbs, I occasionally end up making croutons and butter and sugar snack toasties (my mother’s fav to eat with coffee). But of all the possible and palatable things I can make with stale bread, making it into bread pudding (with dozens of varieties/flavors) is my most looked forward and much more pleasurable plan that is always already mapped out anytime my house is over-stocked with bread.
I found a page from my all-time favorite book Simple Pleasures : Soothing Suggestions & Small Comforts for Living Well All Year Round. The topic is about Comfort Foods and specifically how a most humble Bread and Butter Pudding can caress a most homesick heart.
“Bread pudding may be the all-purpose comfort food that is easiest to reproduce. It has inspired everyone from Leon Lianides of New York’s legendary Coach House restaurant to Marion Cunningham, who updated The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. (Cunningham pointed out that bread pudding was a “great pacifier” for boarding school students for generations- sometimes the only decent dish in the dining hall.)” - (Spring Chapter : Friends and Family, p.41)
8 slices Egg & Milk Loaf bread (can also use brioche), sliced into triangle halves
4 large eggs
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup half and half (1:1 milk + cream)
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
zests of 1 orange
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup light brown sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (to sprinkle over bread pudding before baking)
- Preheat oven to 350’F. Brush butter onto an oven/baking dish.
- Layer and overlap the bread slices in the buttered baking dish.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, maple syrup, sugar, half and half, melted butter, vanilla, orange zests, salt and walnuts.
- Pour the egg mixture over the arranged slices of bread in the baking dish. Let the bread soak up the egg mixture, about 30 minutes.
- Mix the light brown sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle the mixture over the unbaked bread pudding. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bread pudding is puffed-up and golden.
- Serve warm.
Makes 5-6 servings
Nutella-Peanut Butter Banana Bread Sandwich
Contrary to how sinful this sandwich looks like, it is actually not too sweet but yes, quite decadent for a midday/midnight snack because really it’s almost the same as eating a piece of cake, only you call this a sandwich which makes you still sound like you are still sticking to your daily dietary allowance.
My original evil plan was to whip up honey roasted peanut butter (from a jar) with orange marmalade (also from a jar) and schmear an unapologetic amount of that on slices of this banana-walnut bread, but when I opened the cupboard and saw the big jar of Nutella… well of course I instantly abandoned the jar of marmalade! I mean, what can be better than Nutella?… well, maybe a tub of melted Godiva milk chocolate to dip your whole self into.
“Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate” - Jo Brand and I concur and add, A banana bread was always a wholesome baked good until peanut butter was introduced to it, followed by Nutella. And the innocence and wholesomeness of this quickbread were lost forever. But oh my goodness, Elvis would’ve been so proud of this sandwich.
Pavlova with Whipped Lemon Curd, Cream and Balsamic Macerated Strawberries
Pavlova is a meringue basket or case, the best being of beautiful in appearance, with a crisp and soft texture, filled with cream and fruit. This is the national dessert of both Australia. The meringue is made from egg whites whisked with vinegar and a little cornflour (cornstarch) as well as sugar to give the crisp crust concealing a marshmallow inside. The whipped cream filling is topped with sliced or diced fruit, including peaches and kiwi. Passion fruit seeds ornament the top.
The dessert was named for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova on her visit to Australia in 1929 and honors her most famous role as the dying swan. First winning a newspaper prize in New Zealand, the recipe was perfected by Bert Sachse in Perth. (Source: Larousse Gastronomique 2007 Edition)
Now my version which I have here kind of strayed a bit from the “official/traditional” ingredients used for making a Pavlova (Aussies and New Zealanders… please don’t slap me with a lawsuit) only because when I do my own desserts, I always allow myself to be more creative and even a bit of a rebel combining ingredients that I know in my heart and palate will work deliciously together.
I know for a fact that sugary-sweet desserts should always be balanced with something fruity and tart. That strawberries when jazzed up with lemons becomes more brighter and well, more strawberry tasting. And lastly, beautifully and richly aged balsamico when added to strawberries makes the fruit more sweeter at the same time imparting a regal and mild tartness as well as a glorious crimson color when the berries are macerated in it.
There are two fillings for this pavlova; whipped lemon curd and whipped cream. The bottom of this crunchy (outside), soft and chewy-marshmallowy (inside) Pav will be the side to which the fillings will be layered.
For the Meringue Base
4 egg whites (from large eggs)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons raspberry or sherry vinegar
2 Tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch)
* half of a lemon (unsqueezed, to rub the mixing bowl with before whipping the egg white, makes the egg whites aerate better)
- Preheat oven to 400”F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Start with a very clean, grease-free mixing bowl. Rub the lemon along the inside of the mixing bowl. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixing bowl. With an electric mixer (hand or tabletop) whisk on medium speed until egg whites form firm peaks.
- With the mixer still running, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. turn the mixer speed up to the highest setting until the meringue is white and glossy (5-7 minutes).
- Decrease the speed of the mixer and mix-in the vinegar and cornflour until well incorporated.
- Place all the meringue on the prepared baking sheet lined with parchment. Make an 8-inch round, 2 1/2-inch thick mound and smooth the surface of the meringue with an off-set spatula.
- Bake at 400’F for 12-15 minutes or until meringue puffs up and gets lightly browned on the outside. Then decrease the oven temperature to 350’F and bake for 20-25 minutes more. Turn off oven and leave the meringue inside until the oven gets cool (the baking at high temperature for the first 15 minutes of baking time and leaving the meringue inside a turned-off oven is crucial so that the outside is crunchy and the inside to be soft and marshmallowy).
For the Lemon Curd
4 egg yolks (from large eggs)
1 cup granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- With the exception of the butter, put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk.
- Place the mixing bowl with the egg yolk-lemon mixture over a double boiler. Make sure that the bottom of the mixing bowl does not touch the boiling water under it or else you will scramble the eggs. Add the cold cubes of butter while whisking the lemon curd.
- Whisk until the mixture thickens (8-10 minutes) and becomes light yellow in color.
- Place the bowl of lemon curd over a bowl of ice water. Continue whisking the mixture until it cools and becomes whipped. Chill in the fridge. Just before assembling the Pavlova, whip again with a wire whisk.
For the Whipped Cream Topping
4 cups whipped cream
For the Macerated Strawberries
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- Combine all 3 ingredients and let the strawberries macerate in the the balsamic vinegar and sugar.
To Assemble Pavlova
- Turn the meringue upside-down.
- Spread the well chilled whipped lemon curd on the bottom. Then spoon and spread the whipped cream.
- Top with the balsamic macerated strawberries. And garnish with whole strawberries.
Makes 8 servings