As an archipelago composed of several regions, the Philippines offers a wide range of Filipino desserts. The majority of these desserts are made using sticky rice or sweet rice, coconut and fresh fruits that are abundant in the country.
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Whether you are born a Filipino or a foreigner with a sweet tooth, you may find Filipino desserts delicious and fascinating.
Here’s a quick roundup of the top Filipino desserts worth trying:
Best Filipino Desserts To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
1. Cassava Cake
Cassava cake is a classic Filipino dessert that uses grated cassava as the main ingredient. There are many different versions of this recipe depending on which region in the Philippines the recipe is from.
Even with the different cassava cake recipes, the final outcome which is a rich, cheesy and chewy cake is hard to resist.
For the basic recipe, you need grated cassava, coconut milk, evaporated milk, eggs, melted butter, sweetened condensed milk and a bit of sugar. Just mix all these ingredients and bake the batter for 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, remove from the oven and add the grated cheese on top. Some recipes also recommend brushing condensed milk on top before adding the grated cheddar cheese for topping.
Cassava cake is so popular that many stalls and booths across the country sell this dessert. It has a mildly sweet, milky and cheesy flavor with a slightly chewy texture.
2. Purple Yam Jam
Also known as ube halaya, the purple yam jam is also a popular Filipino dessert worth trying. This jam is made from boiled and mashed purple yam or sweet potato and other ingredients such as condensed milk and butter.
The mixture is cooked over low heat until it thickens. You need to cool it down at room temperature before transferring the jam to a sealed container. Let it cool down in the fridge before serving.
Ube halaya has a nutty-vanilla-like flavor and is sweet and creamy. You can use it as a spread or a topping for your cake, pastries and halo-halo. You may also eat it as is. It can be a nice sweet dessert after consuming savory dishes.
3. Ginataang Bilo Bilo
If you are a fan of a rich and creamy dessert, you might as well try the ginataang bilo bilo. This dessert is best served hot and is a popular decadent during the rainy season.
Ginataan bilo bilo means chewy rice balls or sticky rice balls made from glutinous rice flour and cooked in sweetened coconut milk. It comes with other delicious goodness such as cooked tapioca pearls, tubers, ripe jackfruit, saba bananas and sweet potato.
This dessert is one of the easiest to cook. You need a large pot to boil all the ingredients together. The first step is to boil water, coconut milk and sugar together in medium heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer then add the rest of the ingredients. Let it simmer for another 3 minutes then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir contents occasionally.
You will know that it’s already cooked once all the ingredients are already tender. Remove from heat and serve.
4. Banana Fritters
Saba bananas are widely used as an ingredient in many Filipino desserts. On its own, this type of banana also makes delicious deep-fried banana fritters or banana cue.
If you visit some local markets, you’ll find many street vendors selling deep-fried banana cue. It is popular street food in the country.
To cook banana cue at home, all you need is a saba banana and brown sugar. After deep frying the banana, coat it with caramelized sugar (brown sugar). This traditional dessert is better served hot. Some people like adding toasted sesame seeds for added texture and nutty taste.
5. Buko Pandan
Buko pandan is a best seller at any Filipino gathering. It is a refreshing dessert made of young coconut strips, cooked tapioca pearls, pandan-infused gelatin, condensed milk and all-purpose cream.
Pandan is an aromatic tall grass that widely grows in tropical countries. If it is not available where you are located, you may also buy pandan-flavored gelatin as a substitute.
To make buko pandan, you just have to mix the ingredients together. After mixing, chill it in the fridge before serving. You can serve it in a tall glass topped with vanilla ice cream. Now, that’s an irresistible and satisfying dessert!
6. Halo Halo
Halo-halo means “mix mix.” And true to its name, this layered dessert is a creamy mixture of a wide assortment of ingredients including sweetened bananas, sweet corn, red beans, macapuno, nata de coco, sago pearls, jelly, sweet potatoes, ube halaya, leche flan, jackfruit and pinipig, all pre-cooked before adding.
Of course, a halo halo will not be complete without the shaved ice, evaporated milk and sugar. The shaved ice binds all the ingredients together.
Halo-halo is the ultimate summertime treat. While the variety of ingredients added may vary from one seller to another, one thing is for sure. It is one of the best afternoon snacks you could ask for. And to further enhance its flavor, try topping it with vanilla or ube ice cream.
When it comes to taste, halo-halo is a creamy, custardy and sweet treat.
If you live in the Philippines, breakfast is more special if you have taho for dessert. Street vendors normally sell this Filipino dessert early in the morning, just in time for breakfast.
Taho is a sweet dessert made from gluten-free silky tofu, cooked tapioca pearls and caramelized brown sugar. You just need to mix these three ingredients to make your own version of taho.
8. Buko Salad
Sweet and tender shredded coconut is the star in this Filipino dessert. The process and majority of the ingredients in making buko salad is similar to fruit salad. You need condensed milk, all purpose-cream, fruit cocktail and nata de coco. However, instead of using fresh fruits, you’ll use young coconut to make buko salad.
And just like the Filipino-style fruit salad, buko salad is also sweet with a creamy texture. It is best served cold after a heavy meal or as an afternoon snack.
Suman is a sticky rice cake that is made by cooking glutinous rice in coconut milk, a bit of sugar and salt. Some variations of suman use cassava instead of glutinous rice. And depending on which region in the Philippines it is from, suman can be on the sweet or salty side.
After cooking the glutinous rice, a small portion is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for a few minutes. You can eat suman as is or with coconut caramel sauce or sugar syrup as a glaze to give it a sweet taste.
10. Leche Flan (Caramel Pudding)
Leche flan is the Filipino version of creme caramel which is a custard dessert topped with caramel sauce. There are many variations of this recipe across many countries in the world.
As a Filipino version of creme caramel, leche flan is also a heavy custard with caramelized brown sugar. The basic recipe for leche flan use condensed milk, egg yolks and sugar. A variation of this recipe also uses egg whites and not just the yolks.
Leche flan is creamy and sweet. It is commonly served during special occasions including fiestas and new year parties.
11. Maja Blanca
Maja blanca is a recipe brought to the country by Spanish colonization. Its name translates to “white delicacy.” Although Spanish in origin, this Filipino dessert has become a part of Filipino cuisine, and it is served in almost any festivity.
This dessert has a consistency comparable to thick gelatin. It has a creamy, smooth and soft texture with a delicate and sweet flavor.
A simple maja blanca recipe uses corn starch, condensed milk, coconut milk, sugar, corn kernels and grated coconut or desiccated coconut topping.
You just have to combine and cook all the ingredients (except for the grated coconut) over low heat, making sure that you continuously stir it. Once the consistency of the mixture becomes sticky, transfer it to a serving tray. Flatten the top using a spatula before putting the toppings.
12. Buko Pie
Buko pie is a dessert that is commonly bought as “pasalubong.” Pasalubong is the tradition of bringing souvenirs or food back home from a trip. They say that the province of Laguna is home to the finest buko pie as this is where buko pie originated before it became popular all over the country.
Sometimes anglicized as coconut pie, this Filipino dessert uses young coconut as pie filling. The rest of the preparation and cooking is similar to when you are making a regular pie.
For the crust, you will need all-purpose flour, butter, sugar, water, salt and vinegar. For the steps, you can simply follow your tested crust recipe.
For the filling, just mix the shredded coconut, corn starch, egg yolks, all-purpose cream, and milk.
Assemble the pie and bake for about 45 minutes. The final product should have a crispy crust with a sweet and buttery filling.
Biko is a type of rice cake that is widely served during fiestas, funerals, birthday parties and other local celebrations. This dessert is sticky, gooey, sweet and with a hint of nuttiness.
There are several regional variations to this recipe but the simplest one uses cooked glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar. You need to cook the coconut milk until it turns to oil before adding the sugar. Combine thoroughly before adding in the cooked rice in the mixture.
If you are a Spanish reader, don’t freak out as puto means a delicious dessert in the Philippines. It is a steamed sweet rice flour that goes well with savory dishes like a stew. White is the original color of puto, but now, it is widely available in a variety of colors.
To cook puto, you need slightly fermented rice flour, sugar, coconut milk, baking powder and a pinch of salt. You just have to combine these ingredients, transfer the mixture in puto molds and steam for about 15 minutes.
Puto is moist and soft with fine grain. It is not too sweet, making it a perfect pair for stew.
Where can I buy Filipino desserts?
If you are in the Philippines, getting any of these delicious Filipino desserts is very easy. However, if you are in the US or other countries, the best way to satisfy your cravings is to cook them yourself. Thankfully, many of the ingredients in making these desserts are available in your supermarket or even online.
Can I substitute coconut milk for another type of milk?
For most recipes, it's safer to use this ingredient than another type of milk. Coconut milk offers a different kind of taste and creaminess you can't achieve if you use another type of milk. Canned coconut milk is now widely available in both online and in-store groceries.
Which Filipino dessert is the most delicious?
It's hard to answer this question as these desserts have their unique taste and texture. It's best to try as many desserts as possible then decide for yourself which one is your favorite.
Filipino desserts are truly delicious and satisfying and they can satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. With most of the ingredients easily accessible, preparing those delicious recipes at home should not be a problem.
Some of the Filipino desserts are best served warm while others are best served cold. If you are not familiar with a particular dessert, it’s a good idea to check online for some basic recipes. That way, you will be familiar with the ingredients and how the final dessert will taste like.