A sweet treat made with flour, milk and butter, polvorón is another legacy of Spanish colonialism. Derived from polvo, the Spanish word for dust, Filipino-style polvorón is made by mixing together the ingredients then molding the mixture using a special tool.
There are many misconceptions about leche flan. One, that it is the Filipino version of crème brûlée. It is not, actually. Leche flan is the Filipino version of crème caramel, not crème brûlée. The difference? Crème brûlée has a hard caramel top created by sprinkling sugar on top of the cooked custard then broiling or torching the sugar to caramelize it. Crème caramel has a soft and gooey caramel topping.
A second misconception about the leche flan is that it can only be cooked in the oval-shaped aluminum llanera. I really don’t understand that insistence. I have a friend who, when she wanted to make leche flan, went out of her way to buy the llanera. The thing is, any heat-proof cookware — whether metal, plastic, glass or ceramic — can be used to make leche flan.
A third misconception is that beating the egg yolks and milk together will create a smoother and creamier custard. Wrong. Beat them and air bubbles will form. And if you beat too much, the fat content of the milk might separate and that’s disaster. Stir the yolks and milk together instead. Gently but thoroughly. That’s how you get the creamy consistency. And, of course, you need a good proportion of egg yolks to milk.
A fourth misconception is that steaming the leche flan makes it more delicious. Not true. You can cook the leche flan in the oven and it will be just as delicious. We’re just used to the steaming method because that’s how it’s been done in the Philippines for ages. A baine marie inside the oven will do as well. So, there. … Continue reading »
If you’re a Filipino living abroad, craving for suman with ripe mangoes but suman is not available, this Thai version of basically the same dish is something that you can prepare at home. Canned coconut milk can be substituted for fresh. Glutinous rice is not hard to find although they may be called by other names depending on your location. And mangoes are popular the world over.
Khao neaw mamuang is a popular snack in Thailand. You’ll find the dressed up version in restaurants but equally delicious (minus the plating) street food versions can be had for just a fraction of the price.
While there’s nothing like fresh coconut cream, the canned version is not an altogether bad substitute. For instructions on how to extract coconut cream and milk, click here. If using canned, get coconut cream instead of coconut milk, reserve what you need for the sauce and just dilute the remainder with water for cooking the rice. … Continue reading »
Updated from the recipe originally published on March 3, 2009.
Often described as cotton-soft, Japanese cheese cake is similar to chiffon cake but creamier and almost souffle-like. Traditionally baked in a water bath, I did a little experiment to find out if it was possible to bake it without the water bath. And I found out that it was possible although the bottom and sides turned out to be more brown than it should have been. It was delicious though, never mind the appearance, I posted it anyway.
The second time, I used a water bath but ditched the springform pan in favor of a silicone cake pan.
The inside was the same as that of the cake baked without a water bath. The real difference is in the outside. No brown crusty sides for this Japanese cheese cake. Instead, the sides were the same color as the inside. And the same texture too. Only the top was lightly browned. … Continue reading »
A story goes that, in an attempt to turn his bowl of day-old rice into something more appetizing, a very young Jose Rizal poured a cup of chocolate into the bowl and invented the dish that would become popularly known as champorado. It may or may not have happened though it’s a nice twist to totally Filipinize the chocolate rice porridge. But despite the fact that rice is a Southeast Asian staple, mixing rice with chocolate is probably more Spanish than Asian. Spain, after all, introduced chocolate to the Philippines.
Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez went to Mexico in the early 1500s, learned about Emperor Montezuma’s belief that chocolate was a powerful aphrodisiac, and so brought back to Spain the cacao beans and the tools needed to process them. Spain turned chocolate making it into a highly profitable industry by planting cacao trees in its colonies, including the Philippines. A century later, an Italian merchant, Antonio Carletti, introduced chocolate to the rest of Europe.
In Italy, where risotto is traditionally a peasant staple, there is risotto al cioccolato that is very similar to our champorado. Arborio rice is cooked and mixed with milk, sugar and chopped chocolate then garnished with chopped nuts before serving. So, now you understand my reservation about the claim that the young Jose Rizal unwittingly invented the champorado.
In Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand, there are dark and sweet rice dishes too. Like champorado and risotto al cioccolato, they are made with glutinous rice but no chocolate is added. Rather, the dark color comes from the color of the rice. Despite being labeled as “black sticky rice”, the grains are a dark purple and the flavor is somewhat nutty. Filipinos, probably out of habit and association, mistake these Southeast Asian sweet rice dishes for champorado never discerning that complete lack of chocolate flavor. Here are my versions of two of these dishes. … Continue reading »
It isn’t difficult to do this dish but for someone like me who still cooks rice on a trial and error basis, it took sometime to get it right.
It’s simple enough, really. Cook the glutinous rice in coconut milk with a little salt and brown sugar to taste, transfer to a baking dish, top with the custard and bake until the top is brown in spots. The way it happened, the custard was easier to make than the rice pudding. I don’t remember anymore how many times I had to add coconut milk because there were still uncooked grains after 45 minutes on the stove.
But, whatever, the result was great.
The custard is the same as the one I used for the cassava bibingka except that I totally omitted the evaporated milk and the sweetened condensed milk. Instead, I used honey + pancake syrup. … Continue reading »