Spanish Style Churros (Churros con Chocolate)

This type of churro is what I am familiar with. I was slightly put off when I first had churros here in North America because they were covered with cinnamon sugar. These churros are typically sold in Costco, Disney theme parks, and most street fairs. I did not become a fan of it, so I rarely bought it for us.

The churros that I love was the one made by Dulcinea Cafe in the 90s. Dulcinea started as a pasteleria; the location I first visited in the 80s was at Makati near the old Rizal Theater. They serve Churros con chocolate, one of the best-selling items on their menu. When my husband and I were still dating, he would always order Churros con Chocolate from Dulcinea as it is his favorite.

During the Covid lockdown when we rarely go out, I discovered this is easy to make.

Place one cup of water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Before the water starts boiling, add 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 tsp baking powder and vigorously stir until it forms into a ball and comes away from the sides of the pan. You can add more flour if you think it’s too sticky. Cool for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a pastry/piping bag with a star point tip.

Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet when it’s up to temperature. Pipe the dough directly onto the hot oil and snip the ends as you go. Please take extreme caution when frying to prevent any injuries or burns. Fry until golden brown and flip them halfway through.

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Serve with a side of thick dark chocolate. To make the hot chocolate, place in a saucepan 1 cup milk and let it warm. When you see tiny bubbles form on the side of the pan, add a bar (100g) of at least 70% dark chocolate chopped. Stir the mixture until smooth and the chocolate has melted, sweeten with one tablespoon of sugar or to taste.

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Filipino Hot Chocolate (Tsokolate Eh)

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 the taste of each family. They would go from house to house with their grinding stones and sometimes imprint the family name or emblem on them. These would then be cooked in chocolateras and a batidor will be used to create foam. 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 childhood memories of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 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 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, giving it its distinct flavor and taste I love. Just think Reese’s peanut butter cups in liquid form.

There are currently several artisan chocolatiers in the Philippines; some are even internationally awarded. I, for one, have tried Auro, which was introduced to me by my older sister. Recently my youngest sister gifted me with Theo + Philo cacao tablea (chocolate made for drinking). Theo and Philo mean Chocolate and Love. This Filipino artisan brand produces high-quality chocolates and spreads and baking ingredients as well. She also sent a pouch of Premium Unsweetened Chocolate disk made by Malagos another Filipino brand in Davao.

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I made these into Filipino-style hot chocolate; this is an updated recipe since I already featured this several years ago; you can find it here.

To make, place in a saucepan one cup milk and let it warm a bit. Then add ten pieces of the Theo + Philo chocolate nibs that have been coarsely chopped and one disk of the Malagos Premium Unsweetened Chocolate. I also added one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter. Continue stirring with a wire whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture has heated through. Do not allow it to boil.

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Immediately pour into cups. This is enough to fill two small cups. You don’t need a big mug to enjoy this since it’s rich and thick.

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Ube Crinkles

My girls love crinkles, the chocolate kind. It’s our most requested “pasalubong” from home whenever family visits. We also hoard this whenever we visit Manila; our favorite is from Purple Oven, just beside Union Church of Manila, my family’s home church.

Last Christmas, I decided to make crinkles, the Ube-flavored kind. It makes it more Christmassy for me when there is Ube during this time of the year.

To make you will need Ube halaya (Jam). I don’t recommend using the bottled kind you get at Asian stores since it does not really have the Ube flavor. Most of it is just artificial flavoring and sugar. I was lucky to find real Ube from our local H-Mart and made halaya in time for Christmas.

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To make, place in a bowl and whisk the following: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. Baking powder and 1/4 tsp. Salt. Set aside.

Cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/4 brown sugar plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 egg.

Add 1/2 cup Ube Halaya and 1 tsp. Ube flavoring (I used the butterfly brand). Stir until well blended.

Gradually add in your dry ingredients. Cover your bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hrs. I recommend overnight, which is what I did.

Form the cookie dough into balls using a 1 1/2 tsp ice cream scoop. Lightly roll the dough in granulated sugar before thickly coating it in powdered sugar. Rolling it in granulated sugar will prevent the powdered sugar from melting. This ensures you get the nice white cracks on top.

Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes.

This was such a hit at my daughter’s Graduate school Christmas party and this was also became Christmas gifts for friends.

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European-Style Hot Chocolate

We love the hot chocolate from Max Brenner at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. It’s just like eating a chocolate bar in liquid form. We usually get it during the Christmas holidays, but we stopped going for the past several years now because it’s just become way too crowded.

If you like this kind of hot chocolate, one you can eat with a spoon it’s easy to make it at home. First you need to get good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate bar with at least 70% cacao content. I used Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate bar.

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To make, roughly chop 2 dark chocolate bars which amounts to around 8 oz of dark chocolate and set it aside. In a medium saucepan, place 1 1/2 cups whole milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream and about 2 tsp. powdered sugar. Whisk until combined and let this heat over low fire until bubbles form on the side of the pan. Note: Do not allow the milk to boil. Then remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.

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Immediately pour into cups and place a big dollop of cream on top. I added some chocolate shavings to make it more decadent.

It was such a welcome treat on a cold and damp winter afternoon.

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Apple Galette

Fall is the best time to make any dessert from apples. I almost always do apple crisps because it’s a family favorite. This year however, I wanted to try something different. So I made Apple Galette. My older sister says this is the only thing she makes because it is good and so easy.

First, make your pastry by placing in bowl 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. Sugar, 1/4 tsp. Salt, one stick cold unsalted butter. I use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, then gradually add 1/3 cup of ice water. Continue to blend until the mixture just comes together; you should still see small pieces of butter in the dough. Gather into a ball, then place in a cling wrap and refrigerate until chilled, around 30 minutes to an hour.

Prepare the filling: Peel and core four medium-sized apples (I used honey crisp). Cut it into about 1/8 thick slices. Drizzle half a lemon to prevent it from discoloring. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F

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Roll our your pastry on a lightly floured board into an 8 – 10 inch diameter. Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking pan. Arrange the apple slices into a concentric circle within an inch of the edge. I made sure it’s slightly overlapping. Drrizzle one tablespoon honey over the apples. Then sprinkle a mixture of 2 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon evenly on top of apples. Dot all over with 1 tablespoon butter. Bring the pastry up over the apples to create a one inch border. Place in the center rack of oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until pastry is crisp and apples are tender. Serve warm.

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Ube Toast

After trying out the Ube French Toast at Parkside Eats, which was utterly delicious by the way, I told myself I would make something similar. I wanted a dish that would not be too sweet since I am trying to cut back our sugar intake. We thoroughly indulged ourselves the past Summer and it’s time to make some changes to our diet.

I originally thought of mixing mascarpone cheese with some ube halaya. The thing is I forgot to pick up some on my recent grocery run. I just improvised and used some whipped cream in place.

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To make the spread, place 2-3 Tbsp. Ube Halaya (I just used a pre-made bottled one), 1 Tbsp. Ube Spread from Trader Joe’s and 1/2 tsp. Ube Flavoring for color. Beat until smooth then add 3/4 cup heavy cream and whip until still peaks form. Place the spread in a piping bag. Using a Wilton 2A tip pipe it on your toast using a zigzag motion. Enjoy !

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French Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

We had a layover at Changi Airport in Singapore during a recent trip to Manila. I know I should not miss the opportunity to visit their TWG Tea Boutique in the few hours we are there. TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group, a well-known Singaporean luxury tea house chain. I bought several kinds of tea, and while browsing, the box of Earl Grey Shortbread cookies caught my daughter’s eye. We knew we had to get it since my girls love Earl Grey Tea. I just regret not getting more than one box.

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Since I bought a tin of French Earl Grey from them, I just thought of making our shortbread cookies.

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This recipe was from the Foodnetwork website by Claire Robinson. I followed the recipe, except I didn’t use a food processor. I just used a pastry cutter to blend in all the ingredients. This seems to be the easiest recipe for shortbread, but next time, I’ll make one wherein you roll the dough and use a cookie cutter to get even and uniform circles.

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Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

One thing I share with my dad is my love for peanut butter. The first brand of peanut butter I was introduced to was Lily’s peanut butter slathered in pandesal. I believe most Filipino children in the 70s are familiar with and grew up with this brand. Later on, we would always buy a jar of Jiff or Skippy whichever is available from Rustan’s or Landmark every time we would go grocery shopping.

I had my first taste of grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich from Oliver’s Super Sandwiches the HK franchise sandwich shop in Glorietta that opened in the 90s. One time my dad handed me a brown bag from the store when he picked me up from work. He knew I would be hungry as we almost always hit traffic along South Expressway on the way home. He said he chose it since he knows how much I love peanut butter. I still do, and I sometimes eat a slice of bread with peanut butter for dessert.

This blog is dedicated to my dad who is no longer with us. Every time I eat this I am reminded of him and all the memories we have sharing the love for this food.

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To make, get 2 slices of bread (I used oat but you can use whatever you prefer). Slather one side with peanut butter, then layer it with banana slices. Place the other piece of bread on top.

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Get a skillet and place over medium heat. Add a pat of butter and carefully place your sandwich and cook until browned and a bit crisp. Then flip and continue to cook until brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and slice in half. Serve with a cold glass of milk.

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Ube Braided Bread

I have a jar of Ube Spread I got at Trader Joe’s a month ago. I find it too sweet to use as spread for my toast. I was looking for ways to use it up, after watching Youtube videos of Japanese bakery work I was inspired to make this braided bread.

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To make the dough I used this recipe here . I have used this before to make my Korean sausage bread and I really liked it’s texture and taste.

After dough has risen I divided it into 4 equal parts. Rolled it into a rectangular shape and placed a tablespoon of Ube spread on top. Using an angled spatula I spread it evenly on the dough leaving about a half inch border all around. Roll up the dough starting on the longest side, then using a sharp knife, cut the dough log horizontally, leave 1/2 inch of top edge uncut. Then braid and make sure to keep the open layers exposed on top as you do. This will give you the braided effect. Then take both ends and form into a circle tucking ends towards the center to form a knot.

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Place your dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let this rise for another 30 minutes. While waiting preheat your oven to 350F.

When your dough is ready, brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes and until tops are golden brown.

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Dorayaki (Red Bean Pancake)

Dorayaki is a sweet red bean-filled snack sandwiched between 2 small pancakes. It’s a traditional Japanese snack that dates back to the Edo period. I won’t bore you with it’s history and beginnings, but if you want to know more you can read it here.

I made this using the Japanese Morinaga hotcake mix and a can of ogura-an (smashed sweetened red bean). To make prepare the pancakes using the package directions. For tips and how-to, here is the link to the Japanese hotcakes I made in a previous blog post. I made my pancakes much smaller just like making silver dollar pancakes. Give the pancakes enough time to cool.

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Once it’s cool take a pancake and place a scoop of red bean filling cover with another pancake. Make sure that the filling does not spill out too much on the edges. Wrap it with cling wrap to help keep it’s shape. Unwrap before serving.

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