This column is inspired by the recent launch of “Inquirer Lifestyle Best Desserts 4,” the ultimate resource book for the sweet tooth.
I took great pleasure in witnessing the growth of this event with each passing year, as more bakers dedicated themselves to making our lives sweeter.
I wish to congratulate book author Vangie Baga-Reyes and Lifestyle editor Thelma San Juan for its success.
Here are some of my recent finds to add to the already very decadent list.
The recipe of this pure carabao’s milk pastillas from Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, dates back to a hundred years.
In the olden days Paula de la Cruz would accept cow’s milk and sugar from her friends and neighbors and would gladly make pastillas for them.
It was her daughter, Lydia de la Cruz, who later inherited the recipe, that she then passed on to her own daughter, Patricia Marcial, who is the recipe’s custodian today.
The making of these little treats is entirely a family affair—from the carabao’s milk to the preparation of ingredients, mixing, shaping, wrapping and selling.
It is a tedious process, according to Jasmine Martin, Patricia’s niece who markets and sells the pastillas.
The recipe consists of only two ingredients (unadulterated carabao’s milk and sugar). They are combined and slow-cooked for three hours in a gas stove, with three people taking turns to mix it.
The mixture is then transferred to a brass wok and once again slow-cooked and gently mixed, nonstop, over charcoal, until the right consistency is achieved. This over-the-charcoal process gives the pastillas its delicate toasted flavor.
Once cooked it is shaped, flattened and cut into very thin strips—this is Patricia’s task, Jasmine said. How evenly cut and cleanly wrapped each pastillas is, genuinely amazes me.
Jasmine can send pastillas to your doorstep. For orders, call 09053048258.
Soft, fluffy breads
Mike Profeta of Red Chef Catering has started a new line of freshly baked goods: easy-to-eat, soft, fluffy sweet breads such as cheese rolls, and ensaimada that comes in ube, ham and cheddar variants.
My personal favorite is the ube ensaimada—filled with haleya and slathered with butter. It is delicious with a pleasant chew. It is not the feather-light, airy type, but the ultra-soft bread-y kind.
When I complimented the chef and asked why he would think his breads were a cut above the rest, he said, “This may sound cheesy but they were made with love, tender handling and great care.
“When we knead our dough and make it rise, we literally wait for the perfect time. We don’t rush the process.”
He added, “Baking it requires much patience, too, as we rotate our pans inside the oven to make sure it cooks evenly.”
Tasty and very reasonably priced; Mike’s breads make perfect snacks for seminars, school and large office functions.
For orders, call 09778438814.
Avocado and ‘gabi’ ice cream
This treat from Geno’s Ice Cream shop in Bataan is the kind that you can’t stop eating.
It is richer than ice scramble yet lighter than ice cream.
It is the kind that you can justify to have more than just a serving, tricking yourself into believing that it isn’t at all fattening.
My personal favorite flavor is the avocado. But the gabi is equally good. Geno’s rendition has a lighter take. Not too creamy or fruity, though the avocado (and gabi) still shine through.
The addition of cheese (on both variants) brilliantly cuts through the palate and breaks down the sweetness.
Call (047) 6381082.
Corazon P. Guinto is an accountant and turned to the food business simply to pursue her passion for cooking and to make her family happy.
One of her creation’s is Ube Decadence, a flan-shaped panna cotta with ube crumb topping. It is refined and truly delicate.
It is a brilliant dessert in my opinion. The taste is the kind you chase after, which is why half of it is gone before you figure out what it is—that is, if you ever do.
It is not sweet or rich, and it is silky and smooth. One bite makes you crave for another and yet another.
For Metro Manila customers, Vinzon and Imelda Heredia are distributors of delicacies from Bataan including Geno’s Ice Cream and Corazon’s Ube Decadence. For orders,
call 09298874760, 09178362727.