Ube Cupcake

Ube is the one thing that is always present at our table during Christmas. I have been wanting to try my hand at making ube cupcakes, I just haven’t really gotten round to doing it till now. I made these a couple of weeks before Christmas as a pre-finals treat for my girls who are at University.

I did have to do a little research to get the right recipe for it. I want to avoid using ube extract but seems it can’t be helped, to get that deep purple hue.

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To make, in a mixing bowl beat together the following: 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Add 1 cup ube halaya and 1 1/2 teaspoon ube extract/flavoring mix until well combined. Sift 1 cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt over the batter and mix until just everything is blended. Scoop batter onto muffin pans with cupcake liners using a 1/4 measuring cup. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

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To make frosting: Cream 1 cup unsalted butter until smooth. Add 1/3 cup ube halaya and 3 teaspoons ube flavoring. Sift 3-4 cups powdered sugar and gradually add to mixture. You can add 1-2 Tbsp. milk if the frosting appears to be too heavy.

P.S. you can add more ube extract/flavoring to the batter and frosting if you want a deeper purple hue to your cupcake.

Pipe your frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

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Buko Pandan Dessert

Another treat or dessert that I associate closely with Christmas is Buko (Young Coconut) Salad. This is a dessert that is meant to be served cold. The simplest buko salad I’ve had and considered the best is just a combination of buko, sago (tapioca balls or what is known as bubbles nowadays), evaporated milk and condensed milk. It may not seem appetizing by all appearances due to it’s homogenous color. But there is nothing like fresh sweet young coconut drenched in cream that spells ambrosia.

Buko Salad have been elevated to another level these days with the addition of other ingredients such as pandan jelly among others. Pandan or screwpine leaves is a favorite flavoring for Asian sweets and desserts. It’s rather difficult to find fresh pandan leaves in the Northeast, what we have are frozen ones. However, bottled pandan flavor extract are available which is a good substitute.

To make, prepare pandan jelly by placing 1 cup water in a bowl and sprinkling 2 packets know unflavored gelatin, let this soften. Meanwhile boil 2 cups water in a small pot and add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tsp. of pandan extract (you can use more, I didn’t want to get an overpowering taste of pandan, the extract tends to give off a strong flavor). Once sugar is dissolved pour this onto your bowl with gelatin. Mix well. Pour this in a small pan and chill in the fridge until firm. Cut into small squares and set aside.

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Place 2 packets of defrosted and drained young coconut in a bowl, add your cubed pandan jelly, 1 bottle of drained nata de coco, 1 small can of nestle cream and 1 can of condensed milk. Gently stir until everything is well combined. Chill in the fridge for at least 24 hrs. You can also freeze it and it will give you a totally different taste and texture.

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To serve, spoon your buko salad onto a glass or dessert cup and top with buko pandan ice cream.

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Tsokolate Eh (Filipino Hot Chocolate)

According to history, the Spanish brought chocolate to the Philippines four centuries ago through the galleon trade from Mexico. Chocolate or cacao was primarily served and prepared as a drink then. It was said that the espanolas, mestizas and the principalia of Intramuros need their cup of chocolate to start their day. Tableas (chocolate tablets) are prepared by Chinese “chocolateros” according to taste of each family. They would go from house to house with their grinding stones and they would at times imprint the family name or emblem on them. These would then be cooked in chocolateras and a batidor will be used to create froth. It can either be served thick – tsokolate E for espeso or thin tsokolate A or aguado. (Source: Tikim -Essays on Philippine Food and Culture by Doreen G. Fernandez)

Drinking Tsokolate Eh is part of my Christmas and New Year’s eve childhood memories. Before I was ever introduced to Swiss Miss and Nesquick I was already getting the real deal. Hot chocolate from pure cacao or tablea. This is very rich and thick compared to the American hot chocolate. My Ninang Aveling is the one who prepares this for us, she will buy the chocolate or cacao from the market and have them ground. She also adds ground peanuts to it and this gives it it’s distinct flavor and taste I just love. Just think Reeese’s peanut butter cups in liquid form.

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My sister sent me chocolate tablea just before Christmas and this I made into Tsokolate Eh for Christmas morning brunch.

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To make, place 1 1/2 to 2 cups (Amount of water depends on how thick you want your hot chocolate to be) water in a small pot and let it come to a boil. Then add 5-6 tablea chocolate and let this melt. Instead of adding sugar I used sweetened condensed milk (Sweeten to taste). Cook over low heat while stirring constantly until heated through. Add about 2 tbsp. creamy natural peanut butter and stir until dissolved. Transfer your hot chocolate into a small pot and use a batirol to achieve the desired consistency, this would also create the froth that you need. Pour into small cups and add milk if you want.

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