We’re saving you the trouble of searching for food gifts and noche buena desserts with this curated list.
Brazo de Loco, La Brazorria de Lasevil
Pixie Sevilla has been tweaking her family’s 50-year-old brazo de mercedes recipe with a variety of fillings—from salted egg and ube to matcha and quezo de bola.
For Christmas, she made the richest one yet. Called Bravo de Loco, the roll is made of chocolate pastry cream with baked chocolate meringue and coated with a crisp sprinkle-speckled shell. It is a chocoholic’s dream.
La Brazorria de Lasevil, Ayala the 30th and TriNoma, tel. 09173953529
Tiare Tart, Cinq Dessert Boutique
For citrusy tarts, lemon, calamansi and dayap are the most popular variants. This drove chef Angela Villoria to bake a passion fruit kind.
“I have used it with mango for my cheesecakes. I also saw it being used in France with coconuts to make an exotic dessert flavor, but I have never seen it here on its own,” she said.
Named after Villoria’s female Tahitian classmate in pastry class in the United States, Tiare has a crust made of crumbed Graham, butter, sugar and a smooth filling that celebrates the lovely taste of passion fruit.
Cinq, G/F, CEO Flats, Jupiter, Makati; tel. 09176252611
Kouign Amann Cake by Cyrille Soenen
Chefs Cyrille and Anna Soenen have already made mini pop-in-your-mouth versions of their famous kouign amann, a sugar-and-butter pastry originating from Britanny, France. Now they have introduced a bigger version in the form of a cake.
“Christmas is for sharing, so I wanted to have a kouign amann that you can enjoy with friends and family,” said Anna. “It’s also nice for kouign amann lovers to place something on the table, like a big cake.”
The small cake is P600; the big one, P1,100.
Call the Soenens at 09175401811.
Bibingka Cake, The Baker’s Table
It has always been chef Jonathan Em’s goal to innovate on Filipino sweets. At The Baker’s Table, he has turned classic local candies like Butterball and Hawhaw into luscious cakes.
His uncle wanted something new but with a nostalgic feel—that’s the Bibingka Cake.
Em made a sponge cake using all-purpose and rice flour, drenched it in a mix of milk and coconut milk to keep it moist, then filled the layers with a frosting of cream cheese, muscovado sugar and salted egg yolk, a sprinkling of desiccated coconut, quezo de bola and local cheddar cheese.
It is cleverly wrapped in slightly charred banana leaf for a traditional look.
The Baker’s Table (no longer in Maginhawa) has a display and pickup location in Flying House Bar and Restaurant, 10 Malingap St., Teachers Village, QC. For orders, message @thebakerstableph on Facebook or Instagram.
Maja Kalabasa, Rico’s Lechon
When Rico’s Lechon expanded in Manila and opened its third branch at Tiendesitas, it introduced a new dessert, which has yet to be available at its original site in Cebu.
The restaurant serves good lechon roasted onsite, as well as other Pinoy favorites. But equally good and not-to-be-missed are its desserts—budbud ug tsokolate, pandan tapioca and kakanin made with kalabasa puree.
Rico’s Lechon, Fort Strip, BGC; Tiendesitas in Ortigas; and UP Town Center, Quezon City.
Pannetone, Wildflour Café + Bakery
You can count on Wildflour to do things right. For pastries, its Buko Pie is among the city’s best, the Salted Chocolate Cake, outstanding, and its latest offering, the Honey Cake, another pure delight.
Its version of traditional Italian sweet bread loaf, originally from Milan and typically prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Europe, is worth tasting.
Though big, the part-bread, part-cake pastry is light in body but heavy in flavor.
Wildflour Café + Bakery, Rada and Leviste Streets, Makati; The Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, and Wilson corner Ortigas Avenue, San Juan; Net Lima Bldg., BGC; and 8 Rockwell Center, Makati
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gourmandise by Sunshine
There are plenty of cookies on the market, but only a few are worth it. The best includes a creation by chef Sunshine Puey. Thick and chewy, the cookie uses a combination of Ghirardelli and Vahlrona chocolate chips for a sinfully satisfying flavor and melt factor. Sunshine calls it “chocolate with a little bit of cookie.”
A dozen costs P960.
E-mail [email protected] or Viber 09178832432.
Orange Almond Cake, Dessert du Jour
Based on a recipe of French pastry that chef Mara de la Rama worked with for a couple of months, the cake is simple and not heavily laden with icing and toppings, an ideal meal ender of rich feasts.
Mara finds beauty in simplicity and you can see it in her creation, like in her other bestsellers, the Vanilla Gateau de Crepes and Pound Cake.
It is made with oranges that have been simmered for hours and crushed—skin, flesh and all. Ground almonds take the place of flour, lending moistness to the cake and making it gluten-free.
Dessert du Jour, tel. 4052580, 09178036272 or 09178116272
Sticky Rolls, Manam Café
The opening of Manam Café at SM Mega Fashion Hall introduced guests to its exclusive desserts. There’s the Calamansi Tart with cashew and Graham cracker crust, the Buko Pie with coconut crumble, and a tart made with Choc-Nut.
The most interesting of the lot are the flavored sticky rolls. Both glazed with dulce de leche, the ube variant is crowned with coconut toffee, while the tsokolate is topped with cacao nib toffee. It’s part of Manam’s thrust to give a playful twist to Pinoy traditions.
Manam Café, 3/L, SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong
Lemon Tea Cake by Jonathan Kui
Pastry chef Jonathan Kui is known for the most beautiful cakes in the metro. His Millefeuille Intensite Chocolat is a craft of different textures, his Narcisa, a showpiece of perfect petal piping.
His latest offering is far from his meticulously designed cakes, yet still on point in flavor. “Everyone is going to be eating something heavy or rich over the holidays, and I wanted to have something bright to balance it out,” he said. Hence, his Lemon Tea Cakes, fudgy mini loaves that celebrate the tanginess of the citrus fruit.
Contact Jonathan Kui, 09178495333 or e-mail [email protected]
Chocolate Decadence Cookie Dough Cake, Joconde
Siblings Dennis and Yvette Hipolito have been making some of the city’s best desserts for years now, under the brand Joconde. There’s the Salted Egg Yema Cake, Dayap Cake, and an Inquirer Lifestyle “Best Desserts” entry, the Super Moist Carrot Cake.
In time for the holidays, they’ve created a new one, the Chocolate Decadence Cake with an added cookie dough layer. It is decadent and can easily make any occasion extra special.
Contact Joconde, 09178486656
Ube Butter Loaf, Fleur de Lys Patisserie
Chef Jackie Ang Po’s butter cake is well-loved. So, when she made a purple yam jam version, topped with grated quezo de bola, it was no surprise that it got the same attention from dessert lovers.
It is festive and fitting for the holidays. Soft and not too sweet, the loaf makes a good statement on the dining table and a most welcome gift.
Fleur de Lys Patisserie, tel. 3720631 or 09228353878 —CONTRIBUTED