Ube or Purple Yam is a uniquely Filipino ingredient. I don’t know of any culture who uses and eat this as much as Pinoys. Aside from the ever popular halaya, these have been made into ice cream, hopia, ensaimada, puto, tart, cheesecake – the list could go on. However, ube has recently taken the world by storm. It has suddenly become so popular and sought after food here in the United States when New York’s Manila Social Club created the Golden Cristal Donut.
For me Uba Halaya is synonymous to Christmas. This is always present on our table during the holidays. Our family would make it but we would always receive these as food gifts from friends and relatives. My family knows how much I love ube halaya since I was known to have finished off a tin (llanera) of it one Christmas. I was a teen back then, mind you.
As I have mentioned before Ube is not Purple Sweet Potato or even the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato. I have seen a lot of people even food bloggers interchange and confuse these two. This website was able to explain the difference between the three. Fresh ube is not locally available here in the Northeast. You can get frozen grated ube sold in plastic packs at most Asian stores.
To make you will need 1 pack frozen grated ube, 1 can condensed milk and 1 can coconut cream. First, defrost your ube and pass this through a sieve to remove any fibrous meat. Then combine all three ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick and dark purple in color. This can take around 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a container and let cool. I did not use any Ube flavor extract as what is commonly used in most recipes I see on the web. The ingredients listed on it are not natural and is mostly food coloring.
I didn’t want to just place the ube in bowl or llanera (tin mold) as customary. For a more elegant presentation I piped the ube halaya on a small dessert glass using a star tip. You can also top it with macapuno (sweetened coconut) strings before serving.