I have loved macapuno candy for as long as I can rememberâ€¦ those gelatinous, sugar coated morsels of macapuno would range from really soft and flavorful versions to firmer, more opaque concoctions. As I got older, I ate less and less of this candy and now only get a taste for it once in a while. However, I have noticed an incredible decline in the quality of commercially purchased macapuno balls. In the last few years, some of the ones I bought were downright gross. Many are nearly hard as rocks, too paste-y, lacking in flavor, too dense and just a shadow of what I recall them to beâ€¦ Since I had just acquired two macapuno nuts, I figured I would attempt to make some candy for myselfâ€¦
The recipes I found on the internet (couldnâ€™t find any in my half-dozen Filipino cookbooks) for the candy included cassava flour which I didnâ€™t have in the house. I understand some folks use cornstarch, powdered milk, etc. to provide some stability to the gelatinous macapunoâ€¦ I decided to do this as pure as I could get it and tried it out with just fresh macapuno and sugar. I scraped out the macapuno from the two nuts and put it in a food processor and added the same amount, weight wise, of granulated white sugar and blitzed it till semi-smooth. There were still some bigger bits so that the macapuno would be noticeable and distinctâ€¦I then heated that up in a heavy enamel pan and mixed it until thick, about 15-20 minutes over low heat. I then cooled the mixture and it got a little more solid after a few hours. Then I rolled it in sugar and packaged it in clear food safe wrapper (not cellophane which gets too moist and soft).
The verdict? Brilliant macapuno flavor (the purest!) and not overly sweetâ€¦but the texture was definitely too soft. There is something in the chemistry of sugar and macapuno that results in a sum greater than its parts. The practically flavorless mutant nut turned into a shockingly tasty and unique sweet. Perhaps if I had cooked it a bit longer and it hadnâ€™t been a 100% humidity day this wouldn’t have been so wetâ€¦but I am now figuring out why some starch (whether cassava, cornstarch or flour) is added to the concoction. This was more like thick macapuno strings from the jar balled up with some sugar. It was so moist that the sugar I rolled it in meltedâ€¦ After an evening in our airconditioned room, the candies looked good but were still a bit moist. If I had the energy, I could have used some of them in a macapuno tart or maybe a macapuno turnoverâ€¦ Well, now I know betterâ€¦will have to experiment again the next time I find macapuno fresh at the market! First and third photo are my creations. The second photo with colored cellophane are candies I bought in Bulacan a few weeks agoâ€¦