Top 15 Traditional Filipino Desserts served during Christmas
Yet again Christmas is around the corner, 10 more days its Christmas eve, a very important time in the Filipino tradition as our main celebration starts when the clock ticks 12 midnight welcoming December 25. Hours before that, on the eve of Christmas, Filipino families all over the world scramble to cook their Noche Buena, showcasing their treasured Filipino recipes and serving them at the time that clock hits 12. It may sound odd with other cultures, becuase who in the world eats a lot of food at midnight? Well, we do, and we do it with a bang. If you are curious what these dishes we serve might be, well I had shared before the types of dishes we prepare and devour during this time but for today we will be focusing more on the traditional desserts we serve, perhaps if Lechon or Pasta might not be your thing at the late hours of the evening, I might be able to convince you to have a light dessert with a cup of tea.
This one is a classic, if there is one thing that is commonly served during this time then it’s this Filipino version of creme caramel.
Another classic that usually goes hand in hand with Leche flan but becuase this one is quite tedious to make, fewer families serve this nowadays but if you have some spare time then give this original ube dessert a try. Yes, this was the first ube dish that came out, way much longer before it became viral and be a flavour of almost everything
Food For the Gods
Another dessert that is dying not becuase it’s hard to make but in the Philippines its ingredients can be expensive where dates and walnuts are not common. We serve this a lot during my childhood, imagine a moist butterscotch crossed with crumby cookie, mmmmmmm.
If you have a Filipino acquaintance then most probably you would receive something like this as a gift, a common food item given away by Filipinos to those they know but not too close to be a friend, or if you are a friend, then they probably don’t know what to give to you. Either way, I would love to receive some, its soft fudge-like chocolate cake in texture is something you want your teeth to sink in.
Most Filipinos back in the Philippines do not have the luxury of owning an oven, hence most of the desserts served during this time is either rice cakes or jellies. And if we are talking festive, it can’t be more festive than this Cathedral Jelly, just look at those colours.
Another jelly that is commonly served is this pink one, more affordable than the colourful one on top and it uses agar seaweeds instead of animal jelly, so for those vegetarians out there this Pink ones is for your, made with agar, evaporated milk, pineapple juice, pineapples and raisins.
Another common salad dessert is this Buko salad, made with young coconut strips, with different type of coco jellies and tapioca pearls plus fruits served with condensed milk and cream sauce.
If coconut is your thing, then you can resort to this Filipino version of Ambrosia, made usually with tropical fruits like pineapple and red and yellow papaya chunks packed in lightly sweetened passion fruit juice served together with coco jellies and tapioca pearls with condensed milk and cream sauce.
Crema de Fruta
If the Brits have trifle, Filipinos have Crema de Fruta, same concept but this Pinoy version is done in one layer of sponge cake, custard, fruits then a clear jelly.
Another dessert salad but this time it mainly consist of young coconuts, coconut jelly, pandan jelly and tapioca pearls. There are strict rules on only using green and white colour for this one, I just wonder will this be also good to serve on a St Patricks day?
Going on to the rice cakes, this one for the non-Filipinos might look like another ube concoction, sad today it’s not if you are a big fan of ube. This is made with black glutinous rice that when soaked in water and cooked, turns purple. A very popular rice cake during this time as it is sold on the streets when Christmas season hits. A simple steamed ground rice on a special bamboo steamer, served with copious amounts of margarine, grated fresh coconuts and muscovado sugar.
Puto bumbong won’t be complete without a bibingka, it is like a Batman and Robin tandem. Both are a mainstay during Christmas also sold on streets and it’s just simply made with rice flour, coconut milk and sugar topped with salted egg then cooked with charcoals.
More rice cakes but its weird to call this one as it does not involve rice at all, it uses cassava but we still call it a rice cake, confusing? Well, me too. Anyways, personally this is one of the best rice cakes ever, the texture is great, its sweet, its creamy, it’s addictive.
This one is also made with cassava, but the looks of this can be more festive. People dye it with red, yellow and green colours which looks nice on a dinner table. Cassava cake is usually best when warm, this one is best when cold.
The last item on the list and perhaps the oldest recipe here, almost a long-lost recipe that even a lot of Filipinos have not heard of. A Bulakenyo dish, originated in Mexico which dates back to the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, a dessert prepared with eggs, milk and biscuits sprinkled with sugar on top where it is scorched or caramelized with a very hot heavy iron turner. Think of it as a cross between leche flan, creme brulee and pudding.