Just a few doors down from Excelente ham I found this store selling freshly made hopia. It was one of several such stores, but this one just happened to have the hopia cooking almost right out on the sidewalk so I decided to buy some. At PHP6.50 each, they seemed like a bargain to me. A dozen yellow munggo and a dozen ube where quickly packed up, still a little warm, and we paid and left to return home.
The first thing you notice is that these are indeed hand-made. They are not all the same size, not totally symmetrical. They had character, they had soul, they had a sense of originality. They were “real” in my books. I know I am biased in favor of those that make things from scratch, the old-fashioned way, but you just have to love the artisanal approach better than the mass-produced, totally predictable cookie or sweet.
The biggest difference between these hopia and say these commercial hopia are consistency and filling to dough ratio. These quiapo hopia had soul. :) We (the driver and I) had a couple of hopia on the way home and I smiled as soon as I bit into an ube hopia. It had a very thin flakey crust, a nicely flavored (albeit dryish and probably artificially colored ube jaleya) and not too sweet at all. The munggo hopia were even better, a soft flavorful yellow filling of mung bean paste with just the right amount of sugar. The hopia were sometimes burnt, sometimes hard in places, but oddly, I took comfort in those imperfections. It was as though they were home-made.
A bit of googling has me a bit perplexed as I am not sure if this Vienna Bakery is related to the snazzier Vienna Cakes that has a splashier page on an on-line directory. Suffice it to say, the Vienna Bakery on Carlos Palanca looked like it had been there for several generations…
The hopia are a bit addictive. Wonderful with a cold ice filled glass of soda or a hot cup of tea. Yum.