Halo-Halo for me is the quintessential Filipino dessert. It is the perfect summer time treat, but given the tropical weather in the Philippines it is available all throughout the year. This is my all time favorite treat, but I still have to find a place in the Northeast that serves a really good one.
This shaved ice treat is not exclusive to the Philippines. Countries is Asia each have their own version. Japan has Kakigori, Korea calls it Patbingsu, Malaysia and Singapore serves Ais Kacang.
Halo-Halo literally means “to mix” in Tagalog. This sweet treat is a mixture of several boiled sweet beans such as kidney beans, garbanzo and azuki (red beans), macapuno or coconut sport, ube (purple yam) and nata de coco to name a few. It is then topped with shaved ice, ice cream and leche flan, to which milk is poured on top. There is no rhyme or reason in what you can or cannot add to it, what you put in your halo-halo really depends on your preference. This is what makes it fun to eat.
This is my take on this summer treat. To make this you need a really good ice shaver.
For the sweets I bought the pre-made bottled ones at the Asian store and a container of Ube ice cream.
Halo-Halo is traditionally served in a tall glass, but I decided to put mine in a deep bowl. I first added a mound of shaved ice into a bowl, then arranged the various sweets on to it. For the final touch I added a scoop of ube ice cream. Before serving pour milk on top and enjoy !
S’mores (coined from the words some more) are traditionally made over campfire, or a barbecue grill these days. It is a treat made up of toasted marshmallow and chocolate bar sandwiched between two graham crackers. I made ours using the toaster oven. It’s so easy and less messy to do.
You will need graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bar. I got the square marshmallows because it is easier to handle in the toaster oven plus you will get a nice and evenly balanced s’more in the end.
Just place a marshmallow on top of a graham cracker and put inside the toaster till puffed and browned on top. It only takes a minute or less so be careful not to burn it.
Place piece of chocolate bar on top of the toasted marshmallow and top with the other graham cracker.
Another way to enjoy this treat is by adding strawberries and bananas like these.
Growing up, avocado is always served and eaten as a sweet. This is something that most people in Southeast Asia would agree to. I remember having chilled avocado as a snack or dessert just scooped and mashed, served with milk and sugar or sometimes condensed milk.
That is why it took me sometime to finally eat avocado in a savory form such as guacamole, a sandwich filling or an addition to salads. Making a shake out of avocado is nothing unusual in the part of the world where I grew up. Though this may not be the case for the unexposed. My kids having lived in North America most of their life were initially turned off by the thought eating sweetened avocado. After a little coaxing they did try and learn to love it.
So this is how I make avocado shake. Take a ripe a avocado, cut in half and remove pit. Peel the skin and cut the avocado into cubes. Throw your avocado into a blender with a handful of ice, milk (amount depends on the consistency you want) sugar or condensed milk again how much depends on the level of sweetness you want. I wanted a thick consistency so I just put 2-3 splashes of miik and about 4 Tbsp of sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve.
If you have some leftover, you can make ice pops with it. This is how it turned out when I made some a while back.
Haagen Dazs in Japan introduced a Crispy ice cream sandwich in three different flavors last June. The one that immediately caught my attention was the Green tea. I know that this would not be available here in the Northeast anytime soon. So, I thought of making my own version of it.
Photo via Häagen-Dazs Japan Facebook page
Green tea ice cream is readily available in any grocery store since Haagen Dazs carries that flavor. I did have to put thought into the kind of cookie I will be using since I don’t want it to be too hard nor too soft. I also want a plain chocolate cookie and not chocolate chip. Last, the size or the diameter of the cookie should also be larger than the average cookie available in the market.
I narrowed down my selections into these 3, Nabisco chocolate wafers, Pepperidge Farm Captiva Dark Chocolate brownie and Archway Dutch Cocoa. Nabisco was way too pricey and thin for my liking. The Pepperidge farm was a close contender, the only thing that I did not like about it was there were chips dotting the surface of the cookie. I wanted a plain chocolate cookie so Archway was it.
First, soften your ice cream by letting it sit on the counter for 15-20 minutes. It didn’t take me that long since it’s been so hot and humid lately. Transfer ice cream into a flat surface container lined with parchment paper and spread it smooth and evenly. Put in freezer until hardened. Use a cookie cutter or an inverted glass to cut out circles of ice cream.
Take 2 pieces of cookie and sandwich the ice cream circle in between. Press cookie together to make sure that the ice cream sticks. Chill in the freezer until firm.
I have made chocolate dipped strawberries for various holidays and occasions in the past years. This particular treat is now a favorite of mine. I have always used Ghirardelli candy making and dipping bar till I discovered Candiquick. This candy melting chocolate gives great consistency and finish and is not difficult to handle.
For this recipe, I used a package of strawberries, vanilla candiquick and orange gel food coloring. Melt candiquick according to package directions. Add your food coloring and stir until you get your desired color. Dip your strawberries to coat and lay on wax paper until it sets. This does not take too long. With the back of a spoon or a piping bag drizzle your strawberries with candimelt to create lines.
No child or adult can resist when you serve them this veggie treat.
Happy Easter !!!
You can make your own Buko Pandan shake with the following ingredients. Coconut water, Shredded Young coconut, Agar-Agar bar (gelatin), Pandan leaves, Sugar and Milk.
Buko (Young Coconut) Juice is what we call coconut water here in the Northeast. You can always get it fresh right out of the coconut shell from the market or even at the mall nowadays in the Philippines. It really taste far better than the ones sold in cans and cartons. For this recipe I used this brand of coconut water since it’s closest in taste to the Buko juice back home.
The Meat of young coconut can be bought frozen and it usually contains a bit of coconut water. Defrost and drain the meat before using.
Agar-Agar bar is the typical gelatin used but for convenience you may use the powdered gelatin mix available in the market.
Pandan leaves (screwpine) is widely used in Southeast Asia as a flavoring agent. It is used not only for sweets but for savory food as well. It has a fresh and sweet fragrance that compliments well with this drink.
First make your pandan gelatin. Chop or cut into tiny pieces about 3-4 stalks of pandan leaves and place in a blender with a little bit of water then puree. Strain the mixture with a fine sieve. Set aside. Into a saucepan, break into pieces the agar-agar bar, add 3 cups water and about 1/4-1/2 cup sugar. Cook over low heat until everything is dissolved. Add 1-2 tablespoon of pandan extract. Strain mixture into a wide and flat container and let it set. Then cut into small cubes.
Into a blender add frozen coconut water (you can freeze it in an ice tray) and milk and blend. You want it slushy and not liquid.
To serve, in a tall glass add some cubed gelatin then pour in your coconut water/milk mix and top with young coconut meat. If you want to get creative you can layer the gelatin, young coconut and coconut water/milk slush in your glass.
In celebration of Spring I decided to make Strawberry Daifuku Mochi. Mochi is primarily made of glutinous rice flour. There are two kinds of glutinous rice flour you can find in the market. The first one is the “mochiko” or sweet rice flour and the second is “shiratamako”. Both are used in making all kinds mochi based sweets but shiratamako will give you the elasticity that you need in this mochi.
For this recipe you will need red bean paste (koshian), strawberries, shiratamako. potato starch, sugar and water. You can make your own red bean paste but I just bought mine pre-made. You can find this in the refrigerator section of any Asian foodstore.
First, wash and remove the stems from your strawberries and pat dry. Divide your red bean paste into 6 equal sized balls. Flatten each ball and wrap the strawberries in it tip side down. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Get a baking pan or any wide and flat surfaced container and sprinkle some potato starch on it. Set aside.
Combine the shiratamako. sugar and water and mix well, make sure that everything is well combined and your flour is dissolved. Place in a heat proof dish and steam for 15 minutes.
Remove from steamer and give it a few stir using a spatula dipped in water. Pour mixture in your prepared pan and sprinkle more potato starch on top. Warning, the mixture will be very hot. Work quickly and divide the sticky dough into 6 equal portions.
Take one and flatten it into a disk then wrap the red bean coated strawberry, again with the tip side down. Smoothen the outside and set aside. Repeat with the remaining strawberries.