26 Jun2007


I am re-posting this summary of results of my Pinoy Top 10 Desserts/Sweets poll that I took almost a year ago… Many (apparently newish) Marketmanila readers have sent emails asking why I seem to post so many western style dishes, and they don’t seem to have bothered to look up classic pinoy dishes and desserts of which I have many in the archives… so for everyone’s convenience, I am re-posting this dessert round-up (the Pinoy Top 20 putahe/dishes was re-posted a few weeks ago). Again, I have to say that I had to work with (8 hours at least, including this post!), and partially massage the data (over 1200 individual dessert votes!) because of the manner in which the responses were posted (some ONLY wanting the yema made by their yaya or other such caveats, for example) and the similarities of some responses that naturally had me putting them in groups (say fried bananas and similar forms of the fruit and fat). At any rate, the Top 20 were pretty clear after the votes were tallied. Although more than 90+ different desserts or sweets were mentioned overall, only about 25 desserts received 10 or more votes each, indicating a rather strong leaning to the top 10 desserts which had 50+ votes a piece. Many votes were discarded as they covered things such as fresh fruit, etc. Many thanks to so many of Market Manila’s readers that took the time to respond to the poll question! So here are the results in reverse order…


20. Yema – Geez, can’t get away from this egg yolk and sugar wonder. This is the dessert that launched a war last year between Marketman and a plagiarizer and the Inquirer newspaper that printed a stolen photograph from my blog and that of fellow blogger Karen. Though the paper published an apology of sorts, I now get hives when I think of yema… I made them once or twice but that’s it for me…

20. Brazo de Mercedes – Tied for the 20th spot (thus I have squeezed in 21 Top Desserts) and not a surprise for me as it seems to be everywhere and a favorite for a particular generation of folks about my age and older… Frankly, I haven’t eaten this in perhaps 20 years and if I can be snide…isn’t it like butter cake rolled up with soft yema filling inside???

19. Minatamis na Saging – This was mentioned in several forms… as whole saba sweetened with white sugar, brown sugar or palm sugar and served with ice or cold. I have also made a form of this though chopped up, stewed with coconut milk, with the intention of mixing it with sago or for adding to homemade halo-halo. I agree that this is simple, delicious and very satisfying.

18. Maja Blanca – another popular favorite, although again, it has been decades since I have eaten this as I generally found it to be rather bland. Most recipes also call for an incredible amount of cornstarch that results in a consistency I personally don’t like. Will have to try this out soon to see if my tastebuds have evolved or matured into Maja Blanca. I hope it’s not a childhood thing because I wasn’t keen on this as a kid.

17. Pitchi-pitchi – A cassava and pandan concoction, this is another top vote getter that I haven’t eaten in a while. I will have to make this along with the Maja Blanca. Many folks who make this must use artificial coloring because using natural pandan leaves would only result in a slight tinge of green along with the aroma that we are all familiar with. Throw on all that shredded coconut and memory banks go into overdrive.


16. Kutsinta/Cuchinta – Part of the list of classic Barrio Fiesta fare, kutsinta remains a favorite along with bibingka, sapin-sapin, etc. There is something about the texture, caused by the lye water that makes the consistency not quite sticky or rubbery but somewhat firmer slime like… It’s an acquired taste and 90 million Pinoys acquired it early in life…


15. Sapin-Sapin – It must be the combination of the texture, taste and fascinating colors that put this right up there with other rice based desserts and sweets. I have loved this dessert from the time I was five years old. Ube and the Squash (purple and orange) were my personal favorites and I am ALWAYS on the lookout for a properly made sapin-sapin. My last suki for this has disappeared into thin air.


14. Banana-que, Maruya & Fried Bananas – Frankly, I am surprised how low this came out, though banana turon did much better. I lumped several variations of Fried bananas together instead of individual named votes. Yes, give me a fried banana anyday for dessert and I won’t look for anything else. Start adding accessories like vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, etc. and you have several delicious variations to enjoy!


13. Puto Bumbong – Yes, and properly made with rice flour made from sticky purple rice (pirurutong as pointed out by vigilant reader Millet and company) instead of artificially colored sticky rice flour. I think the method of cooking it has a lot to do with the fascination but the color, texture, flavor and sweetness do help! And you shouldn’t have this just around the holidays, either!


12. Puto – I thought this might score a bit higher but it must be the lack of bells and whistles and excessive amounts of sugar that make this a favorite but perhaps not in everyone’s Top 5 or so. I actually think of this more as a snack than dessert but I do love it…whether red, white, or purple…

11. Ice cream – This was a toughie to classify because I got 8+ different flavors + dirty ice cream specifically mentioned as opposed to store-bought. Rather than dwell too much, let’s just say folks wanted at least one local flavor of ice cream in their line up – whether ube, mango, macapuno, queso, mantecado, etc. Definitely a scoop of ice cream was high up on the lists.

Now, a drum roll for the Top 10 Desserts please….

10. Sans Rival – that superbly rich, over-the-top and pain-in-the-rear dessert that you just love to hate squeezed into the Top 10. I can’t imagine that many folks make this at home from scratch…I tried and swore more times than I do on an average day… I still have a post and photos somewhere in my files and maybe I will put that up soon. Delicious but deadly. A nice way to round out the Top 10.


9. Buko Pandan – I grouped into here votes for buko pandan salad and buko salad. Essentially the creaminess, flavor and texture of buko strips and the fragrance and color of pandan have made this a recent (say last 20-30 years) favorite. At restaurants it is almost always one of the featured desserts and actually, it is incredibly easy to make and very satisfying to eat.


8. Pastillas de Leche – Not surprised by this at all. I recently made this from scratch and realize why it is so important to have a trusted and consistent source…better to buy it than futz with it as a novice. Well made and fresh, this is heaven. So simple, and yet so delicious. I like mine with a hint of dayap rind to cut the richness of the boiled down carabao milk and sugar.


7. Guinataan/Benignit – There are many versions of this across the country which alter the things floating in the hot sweet soup but this is a COMFORT dessert for sure. Many folks specified bilo-bilo but I prefer more bananas, thanks. Poorly made, this can taste like stewed fruit in drying Elmer’s glue, but done right it is sublime. I totally agree with its relatively high ranking. Also conjures warm memories from gatherings as it is generally made in big batches or when there are lots of folks around…


6. Bibingka – Filipino Christmas would not be complete for me without a good bibingka. That is how much I associate food with the holiday. Though I used to eat this year round until I got so rotund, I like mine without the sharp saltiness of the duck egg and more as a sweet treat. I bought a traditional pot for charcoal with the intention of making this myself but haven’t gotten around to it. Will need to do that before this Christmas… I also need to look into its relationship with the Goan Bebinca from India…


5. Haleya/Jaleya Ube – Whoa!!! Number 5?! I thought I was the only lunatic who had a soft spot for this concoction which was a frequent though special feature of my mother’s kitchen. If ube arrived from her hometown in Bohol, she inevitably made haleya that was rather pale… I have written about ube jaleya before…and even got a response from one the sisters at Good Shepherd regarding the non-use of artificial color in their jams…


4. Turon – Yes, definitely a top 5 Pinoy dessert. I love this and can eat it at least once a week. I like them smaller while others like the bigger versions and the ones with a touch of langka. For me they have to be hot. I once experimented with turon (adding butter, white sugar, brown sugar, palm sugar, inside and out, smaller and larger, long cuts and disks, with chocolate and nuts) and returned to the original…it was still the best!


3. Suman – Here I grouped all types of suman mentioned whether plain rice, made with lihiya, etc. Essentially, it was too scattered to leave the different versions as separate entries. I actually prefer budbud kabog but a plain rice one with ginger flavoring is also a must a few times a year. And yes, it is very well paired with a nice ripe mango. Our cook and crew are expert suman makers and I have tons of photos but never got around to posting the recipe which is very unstructured…

2. Halo-halo – No surprise here. I, too, love halo-halo and we do this at home at least 5-6 times a year. We once had a whole group of vegetarians from the U.S. East Coast at the beach and after feeding them a vegetarian lunch, we whipped out a halo-halo buffet for them and they were so bowled over they continue to mention it years after the fact… I like to really pack it in with homemade minatamis na saging, my own jaleya, langka, etc. besides the beans and kaong and nata de coco. This is also a highly requested dessert for balikbayans who if they HAD to cram food memories into one dessert almost always seek a good halo-halo. Don’t forget the ube ice cream and if you want to go over the top, some homemade leche flan…

1. Leche Flan – By far the favorite dessert mentioned. About 70% of all poll respondents chose this as one of their Top 10 desserts. This dessert is relatively easy to make, the flavor and texture so memorable and it crosses lines from Forbes Park to more modest abodes. It can be made anywhere in the world and for me, it spells a festive or special meal or occasion. Frankly, I would pick a halo-halo with a little leche flan on top…that way, I hit the top 2 Pinoy desserts with one order!

Phew, that’s it…now I have to figure out what desserts I haven’t featured and get cracking in the kitchen while I finish off the Italian posts! It is very interesting to note that the more local or native selections (rice or cassava based) prevailed in overall numbers. However, several superb Spanish inspired desserts also make it onto the roster. Perhaps the only strong American influence would be with the ice cream, though we have localized it with our tropical fruit flavors. Thank you very much for participating in the poll!



  1. bernadette says:

    Impressive collation of a survey! Thank you too for giving us a nice overview of Pinoy dessert favorites!

    Jun 26, 2007 | 9:07 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    Thanks for the recap of our very own dessert collections which surely captivate everyone. Buko pandan is a new addition to me. Leche flan which has so many variations in every household still holds its hot spot – a mixture of eggyolks, milk and sugar with the addition of vanilla or lime zest.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 10:31 am

  4. Apicio says:

    Perhaps you mistook a Swiss roll filled with creme patisiere in your remark about Brazo de Mercedes (simply Braza Mercedes at home). It is actually a meringue roll filled with spredable yema. A more cultivated and refined cousin, I would say, of the slipshod Canonigo or oeufs en neige or even iles flotant. Your pix are mouth-watering as usual.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 11:02 am

  5. Kieran says:

    Having once been a Spanish colony, it’s no surprise that many beloved Filipino foods can trace their origins from Spain. As a lover of food and its history, I am constantly amazed on how food is able to connect and influence us all, one culture to another. From brazo de mercedes (brazo gitano) to yema to leche flan (flan), Filipinos have taken what was good and transformed them into something greater, delicious, and uniquely their own.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 12:31 pm

  6. zeph says:

    MM, I am actually sad that the cassava cake didn’t quite make it to your list.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 3:25 pm

  7. corrine says:

    Wow, that’s interesting. I thought puto, cuchinta and other heavy sweets are merienda fares. During the November eyeball, I saw some of these “heavy” sweets which quite surprised me. The survey results prove that Pinoys like them for dessert. :)

    Jun 26, 2007 | 4:04 pm

  8. sonia says:

    you do put a lot of thought . . . and work on your blog MM. thanks for such interesting and varied features.
    you can never be boring!

    there should be a cookbook devoted solely to the wide variety of leche flan nationwide

    Jun 26, 2007 | 5:08 pm

  9. Ria says:

    MM, I’m also always in search for good kakanin. I found this recently at a wedding of a cousin in Bulacan (i took the label off the box, teehee) very good sapin-sapin! Balanggot Kakanin Tel 044-6707301; Cell 0927 5777978; contact is Mrs. Fely Mercado. I do not know this supplier, I just know I tell my mom to get me a box (P180) whenever she’s in the area.

    The two bastions of pastillas de leche in San Miguel Bulacan were two sisters Rosa and Emma Sta. Ana. They were homely unmarried spinsters, but they have since passed away. Emma was my mother’s godmother. They supply Sevilla’s and Bulacan Sweets.

    I’m not much of a fan of sapin sapin as I am of kutsinta. I’ve been in search of the kind that’s in a bilao (forget the cupchinta!), with almost two layers: a firm bottom with a gooey runny top. Hay sarap.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 8:19 pm

  10. NYCMama says:

    Hi MM. I am also curious about your remark about Brazo tasting like rolled butter cake. Is there a new version out there that I have not tasted? I am also curious about your picture of sans rival. It looks like it has some meringue (and yema!) in it? I remember making that eons ago and it was just the crushed cashew/meringue layers and sweetened butter cream in between.

    Jun 26, 2007 | 9:16 pm

  11. greengrapecake says:

    oh i love everything in that list, especially the suman but i like mine with sikwate. by the way MM, is there any other way you csn make sikwate?

    Jun 26, 2007 | 9:22 pm

  12. Lisa says:

    HI Marketman:

    Do you have a recipe for leftover picadillo soup, I used ground pork? Thanks and appreciate your feedback.


    Jun 27, 2007 | 5:12 am

  13. corrine_p says:

    Talking about kakanin, I was fortunate to take home from a party, suman (the kind that you dip in sugar or latik) from Quezon. One can tell from the way it’s wrapped (with coconut leaves) that it’s not a run of the mill type. It’s slender relative to the ones you would see in the market, with the right stickiness. I wonder what are other good finds in Quezon province.

    Greengrapecake, what is sikwate?

    Jun 27, 2007 | 7:22 am

  14. annette says:

    Hmmmm, what can I say? Im speechless and I’m drooling. And all my favourite desserts landed on the top 10!

    Jun 27, 2007 | 7:38 am

  15. paolo says:

    hmmmm deliz… I wish I were in the PHils right now!

    Jun 27, 2007 | 8:04 am

  16. paolo says:

    BTW, any recipes to share?

    Jun 27, 2007 | 8:09 am

  17. glads says:

    great, great collection of pinoy desserts. just wanted to share where one can go if you want to taste the best of some of this:
    I, for one love the leche flan of conti’s; the brazo of that bakeshop (with orange sign and offers bibingka in galapong that you can bring to the US daw); bibingka of cafe via mare; sans rival of that bakeshop in dumaguete (YUM!!)

    what else?

    Jun 27, 2007 | 12:32 pm

  18. Apicio says:

    To Ria, Just a (very) wild speculation. It must have been the spinster sisters’ homeliness that curdled the milk that shortened its reduction time over slow fire that they took with them to the grave. Incidentally, I came accross a pithy epitaph for virgin spinsters: Returned unopened.

    Jun 27, 2007 | 7:35 pm

  19. zeph says:

    Gee, Apicio, you made the milk in my mouth travel through my nose with that epitaph! Guffaw!

    Jun 28, 2007 | 9:07 am

  20. gina says:

    It’s nice of you to re-post these desserts which reminds me of the tibok-tibok I tasted a few months back. It’s much like the maja blanca but with a softer, melt-in-your-mouth texture. It was given to me by someone from Pampanga and I’ve been craving for it since. Hope someone could give me where I can get it.

    Jun 28, 2007 | 12:47 pm

  21. Vennis Jean says:

    Love this survey result…By the way have you tried sassy lawyers’ recipe on the yema using coco powder?it’s great and my Dad who is the number one sweet tooth in the family kept asking for more…gotta check his blood sugar…The leche flan is sinful!!!

    Jun 29, 2007 | 10:15 pm

  22. jennifer says:

    sikwate is tablea

    Jul 1, 2007 | 3:37 pm

  23. chick says:

    oh god, this made me hungry! :) i love everything you posted here.. im really a fan of pinoy desserts! *drools* :D

    Aug 16, 2007 | 11:29 am

  24. Haiku says:

    On our last trip to the Po or hilippines, we drove to Isabela. On the way, after th town of Solano, we had the most wonderful buko pie. I’ve tasted lots and lots of pies before – savory and sweet and millions of Tagaytay buko pie. This pie in Nueva Vizcaya is heavenly. It tasted as creamy as coconut cream pie but not that rich. It was covered in a thin perfectly baked pastry and the filling was line inch-slices of buko and egg cream (not sure). I ate 3 pies, not slices in 1 sitting. Please tell me someone here have tasted those heavenly buko pies.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 9:22 am

  25. L.J says:

    meron po ba kayong definition ng crema de fruta????????
    pwede po bang lagay nyo katulad lang din nitong ginawa nyo…………..

    Oct 9, 2007 | 2:47 pm

  26. L.J says:

    sarap naman ng mga ito pwede bang patiukim ng mga recipe nyo????????????

    Oct 9, 2007 | 3:02 pm

  27. connie borjal says:

    am really impressed by the recipes. I would like to ask a favor for anyone who may know the recipe for CANONIGO, a merengue with caramel topping milk cream topping recipie, to please be kind to share with with me. i will be very grateful

    Oct 24, 2007 | 11:41 am

  28. Nona Bailey says:

    Sayang at hindi nakasama sa listahan ang kalamay sa latik. Masarap itong panghimagas.

    Nov 21, 2007 | 2:16 pm

  29. xarah_dandah says:

    hmm..how sad..ndi nkaabot sa top10 un ice cream??but why??:D
    ..i can’t believe na dessert ang guinataan..
    tnx for the info eniweiz..GB!:D

    Dec 10, 2007 | 10:20 am

  30. Tess Medina says:

    May I borrow your recipe of puto, kuchinta, sans rival and brazo de mercedes? I’ve been longing to make these desserts myself but I con’t have their recipes…. Thanks in advance.

    Feb 16, 2008 | 10:56 am

  31. Nesy Nguyen says:

    Do you have recipe of “Food for the God”? I’d been asking around but no one seems to have one. If you have by any chance, can I have a copy?
    Thank you very much

    Feb 27, 2008 | 5:38 am

  32. Marketman says:

    Nesy, Foof for the Gods is just a fancy name for Date Nut Bars, which is a common recipe in American dessert cookbooks. Look up date nut bars/Maida Heatter in my archives and you will find several posts on it.

    Feb 27, 2008 | 6:29 am

  33. Teresa says:

    This was a really cool list! You helped sooo much with my food project on Filipino desserts! Thanks!

    May 27, 2008 | 7:09 am

  34. butsoy says:

    you are not the only “lunatic” that likes ube halaya. I can eat it till i get sick!this is tne ultimate comfort food for me!

    Jul 24, 2008 | 4:39 am

  35. carlstrife says:

    sakto talaga mga kakanin kapag fiesta…
    it helps a lot…

    Sep 26, 2008 | 8:22 am

  36. ana says:

    It looked so delisious!

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:47 pm

  37. Grace says:

    oh!i miss all of it..can’t wait to go back to phil and eat it all!!lol..

    Oct 16, 2008 | 3:01 pm

  38. Chokie says:

    please post the ingredients and instructions on how to make the different dessert on this list.. thanks!

    Dec 20, 2008 | 11:05 pm

  39. chari toh says:

    please email me how to make miso from scratch….. i can’t find fresh miso here in chicago! i don’t want the japanese kind…. i want to filipino miso!

    Mar 4, 2009 | 12:46 am

  40. mila says:

    please email me how to make conchinta and karioka.thank you

    Jul 12, 2009 | 5:44 pm

  41. Imelda Rama says:

    To Nessy Nguyen – I saw your request for recipe for Food for the Gods. Email me at Imeldatopnotchrealtor@gmail.com and I will email the recipe to you. Its in my family recipe book and my guest, Michele Deleon-Galan gave me the recipe. She has made this Food for the Gods with our family and we love it and adore her so much. So just email me..take care, Imelda Rama from Maryland

    Aug 4, 2009 | 10:02 pm

  42. janis says:

    this is definitely making me hungry and crave for all the food you listed! **drool**

    Sep 3, 2009 | 6:24 pm

  43. yesha says:

    MM,nice to know that lots of people l0ved en apreciated our homemade products esp. deserts in the philippines.tnx 4 ‘d posting!-yesha

    Sep 10, 2009 | 7:33 pm

  44. yeshamel says:

    wow!great!now how I wish we have those food here in our place!nice job..congrats!u made it!to collect en share that infos it’s not easy huh!

    Sep 10, 2009 | 7:45 pm


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