Comfort food is defined as food that satisfies not only your palate, but food that brings you back to the comfort of home -- your mom's cooking, your hometown, your childhood, and the love and warmth of enjoying being you.
We have read a lot of essays about Pinoy comfort food, this time let's focus on comfort desserts or 'matamis'. My father, who's one of the few men I know with an uncontrollable sweet tooth; cannot declare a meal finish without having a 'matamis'. The sugar would then send the signal his brain that meal is indeed, finish.
Although Pinoys are all over the world; finding the real Pinoy dessert around the globe is not easy. Oh, you can find them canned or powdered in some specialty stores; or hiding as gelatino or creme brulee in some restaurants, but there is just always something missing about them. Preparing them at home without the right ingredients is a recipe for disaster, too. I mean, how can you skip on the right type of banana for banana cue? It definitely would not work at all, right? Here is something for people who must have a dessert, Pinoy style.
Pinoys have a choice between cold or hot desserts. Cold would always involve shaved ice or ice cream; and hot would mean those baked, steamed or fried.
Let's check out the cold varieties first.
Halo-halo is a cold dessert which is a mixture of sweetened fruits, gelatin cubes, sweet beans, nata de coco, kaong (seeds of sugar palm trees), jalea ube (made from purple yam), etc; usually served in a tall glass filled with with shaved ice and topped with ice cream and macapuno, and leche flan.
Mais con Hielo or Saba con Hielo involve shaved ice again, but flavored with corn or chopped saba (a native banana) and mixed with milk and a bit of sugar.
Brazo de Mercedes is of Spanish origin. It is a meringue roll with a butter sauce filling.
Buko Pandan Salad appeals not only to the palate but the smell is a great enticement, too. It combines buko (young coconut), green gelatin, pandan flavor, nata de coco, cream and milk.
Leche Flan is a sweet caramelly dessert composed of eggs, milk, sugar and sometimes with a taste of lemon.
Sans Rival is a rich buttery cake made up of eggs, milk, butter and toasted almonds.
And dont forget the exotic ice cream flavors we have such as ube, mango, and calamansi. You can get your mango ice cream, firmly packed for a long journey, at the departure's lounge of the NAIA international airport.
The array of hot dessert would be:
Bibingka is a rice cake that is usually cooked in a clay pot between live coals located above and below it. It is often topped with native cheese, salted egg and sprinkled with grated coconut ; though interesting topping variations are also in common now. It was a Christmas season tradition that became a daily dessert offer.
Ensaimada meanwhile is a buttered sweet roll, dusted with sugar and topped with cheese.
Egg pie is a Filipino custard pie that is made of egg yolks or eggs with milk and sugar.
Maruya, Banana Cue, Camote Cue and Turon are delicacies mostly bought from street vendors; but are becoming party favorites, too. These list are mostly made from sliced bananas and fried. The Maruya had the bananas cuddled within a mixed batter of flour and when cooked are served sprinkled with sugar. Banana cues like camote (sweet potato) cue are skewered and deep fried in oil and brown sugar. Turon are bananas wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried with sugar, sometimes stripped jackfruit are added to taste.
Sweet finger licking goodies includes pastillas de leche, yema, and polvoron.
Taho is a soybean milk cake that are thinly sliced and served in a syrup as refreshment; they usually come with sweetened sago. Flavored taho became a real hit, which such offers as vanilla, ube, chocolate, etc.
There are also the long list of native delicacies from various regions such as the broas (ladyfingers) and peanut kisses from Bohol, Jalea Ube and Peanut Brittle from Baguio, Dried Mangoes, Otap, and Galletas from Cebu, Buko pie from Laguna, etc.
Here is a recipe of the Coco-Milk-Egg Custard from Filipino Kitchen Library:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
In a heavy sauce pan, put sugar. Heat pan and caramelize the sugar. When all the sugar turns brown, add water and simmer until all caramelized sugar is dissolved. Simmer until syrup is medium thick. Pour into individual pan containers.
3 pcs egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 can condensed milk (300 ml)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl, blend egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, coconut milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Strain using a gauze cloth.
Pour equally among the individual pan containers. Arrange in a steamer. Put steamer over high heat. When water boils, reduce heat. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Let cool.
Serve with nata de coco, kaong or langka preserves.
- You may opt to use dayap or lemon extract.
- For coconut milk guide: Start with freshly grated coconut yielding 300 grams grated coconut milk. First extraction, add 1/3 cup hot water to get 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk.
Great Ideas, Too:
- When attending pot luck parties, I usually bring with me one of the pinoy desserts. And they are always a hit, though they sometimes complain they are too rich and sweet -- the plates are always empty and there are clamors for more.
- As for the sweets, bottled and canned varieties; they usually fill the gift baskets for friends and relatives who discovered Pinoy desserts through me. They cannot wait to open the basket for a peek on the goodies inside. And I cannot wait for the twinkle in their eyes when they open our presents, too.
First published in pinoymomsnetwork.com, except for the recipe.