Belekoy is a sweet delicacy that originated in Bulacan province, Philippines. This sweet pastry is made from flour, sugar, sesame seeds, and vanilla.
A sticky pastry, belekoy is a favourite candy among kids due to its nougat-like consistency and taste. Belekoy is also a popular “pasalubong” or homecoming gift and is often found or sold in retail stores, supermarkets, from mobile vendors at bus stations and in pecialised food shops.
Long live Philippine delicacies!
Turrones de Casoy, (right) nougat and casoy filling
Turrones de Casoy (cashew nut nougat) is one variety amongst many turrones-based sweets made in various provinces in the Philippines.
As the name implies turrones sweets in the Philippines could have been originally inspired by turron-type of candies brought or introduced in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial time. Turrones de casoy comes from Pampanga province in central Luzon island, and is a popular gift or souvenir item for visitors.
This candy is made of nougat slivers, crushed cashew nuts and honey. Formed in thin finger-length slivers, they are wrapped in wafer -like rice paper sheets and rolled. The neutral rice paper serves not only as wrapper but also accents the sweet , crunchy and nutty filling. Great accompaniment for coffee and tea.
Sapin-sapin (Filipino for “to layer or fold together”) is a layered glutinous rice and coconut dessert and is a popular, special treat in the Filipinos’ festive table.
Sapin-sapin’s multi-colored rings are made from layers of glutinous rice flour, ube jam (purple taro roots), grated macapuno (sticky young coconut) and other colored rice cakes.
Sweetened with coconut milk and sprinkled with roasted coco flakes, the cake is a delightful, mouth-watering dessert or snack. Having the right texture, flavour and consistency in sapin-sapin is a tedious if not exacting process even for the experienced cook since the cake is made up of several separate layers.
Pastry and specialised bake shops in Malabon City, north of Manila, are known to make the most tasty sapin-sapin. Packed or serve in bilao (handwoven bamboo trays), sapin-sapin makes a special treat or gift.
Mabuhay ang sapin-sapin!
Sweetened with raw brown sugar and sprinkled with sesame seeds (optional), this candy is known all over the Philippines that the expression ‘bukayo‘ entered Filipino slang or the popular lingo, as in “na-bukayo,” or “buking” which means “caught, discovered,” or anyone whose bad deeds are brought to light and justly exposed.
An example: “Si Gloria ay nabuking na nandadaya sa election.” In English: “Gloria was caught or exposed to have cheated (massively) in the election.”
Those with a sweet tooth should try bukayo, but not cheating in the elections.
Mabuhay ang bukayo (hindi ang na-buking)!
Halo-halo ( ‘mix-mix’ ) is a popular Philippine dessert consisting mainly of finely-shaved ice and a delightful concoction of preserved sweets such as young shredded coconut, beans, boiled banana chunks, macapuno, sago, gelatin and topped with crispy popped rice and a glob of ice cream, among other yummy tidbits.
There are several versions on how this dessert came about in the Pinoy kitchen table, but some would say that it could have been originally a Japanese-styled ice dessert made popular during the 1940s.
In any case, a visit to the Philippines, where the sun’s heat demands refreshments like the halo-halo, is not complete without trying out this ice-based dessert which is available or served by the lowly streetfood vendor, fastfood chains to chic hotel restaurants. One could even ‘assemble’ one’s version of a halo-halo in restaurant buffets where the sweet tidbits are individually presented. Providing proof of the Filipino sweet tooth, some may dislike the combination of ice and sweetness.
But locals and Filipino expatriates swear to the halo-halo experience which, like the jeepney and other Philippine icons, reflects the Filipino’s talent to fuse, improvise, adapt or even improve on other people’s food and flavors.
Mabuhay ang Pinoy!
Matamis na Bao (literally ‘sweet coco shell) or sweet coconut jam evokes the many good things about the lowly coconut.
The jam is only one of the many side products made from the coconut and one can fill up a long list of useful coco by-products. Coco jam is a mainstay ingredient in or accompaniment for many native Philippine desserts.
Unrefined cane sugar and coconut milk are the main old-fashioned ingredients to make the jam’s caramel-like sweetness. Before Western-styled chocolates has invaded the Philippine dessert table, a typical breakfast or snack in bygone years used to be the pan-de-sal filled with coconut jam.
Bao is the shell of the coconut and a natural packaging material for the jam. Glass jars, of course, have replaced natural packaging materials such as the bao, but somehow the named has sticked around.
Dip your fingers to a sticky bowl of coco jam and experience finger-licking ecstasy (not the crystal or powdered sort)!
Mabuhay ang Coco Jam!