I interrupt Italian programming for the results of the Pinoy Top 10 Desserts/Sweets poll that I took last week. 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 Manilaâ€™s readers that took the time to respond to the poll question! So here are the results in reverse order…
20. Yema â€“ Geez, canâ€™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 yemaâ€¦ I made them once or twice but thatâ€™s it for meâ€¦
20. Brazo de Mercedes â€“ 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 olderâ€¦ Frankly, I havenâ€™t eaten this in perhaps 20 years and if I can be snideâ€¦isnâ€™t it like butter cake rolled up with soft yema filling inside???
19. Minatamis na Saging â€“ This was mentioned in several formsâ€¦ 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 â€“ 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 donâ€™t like. Will have to try this out soon to see if my tastebuds have evolved or matured into Maja Blanca. I hope itâ€™s not a childhood thing because I wasnâ€™t keen on this as a kid.
17. Pitchi-pitchi â€“ A cassava and pandan concoction, this is another top vote getter that I havenâ€™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 â€“ 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 likeâ€¦ Itâ€™s an acquired taste and 90 million Pinoys acquired it early in lifeâ€¦
15. Sapin-Sapin â€“ 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 â€“ 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 wonâ€™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 â€“ 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 shouldnâ€™t have this just around the holidays, either!
12. Puto â€“ 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 everyoneâ€™s Top 5 or so. I actually think of this more as a snack than dessert but I do love itâ€¦whether red, white, or purpleâ€¦
11. Ice cream â€“ 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, letâ€™s just say folks wanted at least one local flavor of ice cream in their line up â€“ 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 pleaseâ€¦.
10. Sans Rival â€“ that superbly rich, over-the-top and pain-in-the-rear dessert that you just love to hate squeezed into the Top 10. I canâ€™t imagine that many folks make this at home from scratchâ€¦I tried and swore more times than I do on an average dayâ€¦ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ 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 sourceâ€¦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 â€“ 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 Elmerâ€™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 aroundâ€¦
6. Bibingka â€“ 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 havenâ€™t gotten around to it. Will need to do that before this Christmasâ€¦ I also need to look into its relationship with the Goan Bebinca from Indiaâ€¦
5. Haleya/Jaleya Ube â€“ 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 motherâ€™s kitchen. If ube arrived from her hometown in Bohol, she inevitably made haleya that was rather paleâ€¦ I have written about ube jaleya beforeâ€¦and even got a response from one the sisters at Good Shepherd regarding the non-use of artificial color in their jamsâ€¦
4. Turon â€“ 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 originalâ€¦it was still the best!
3. Suman â€“ 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 unstructuredâ€¦
2. Halo-halo â€“ 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 factâ€¦ 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. Donâ€™t forget the ube ice cream and if you want to go over the top, some homemade leche flanâ€¦
1. Leche Flan â€“ 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 topâ€¦that way, I hit the top 2 Pinoy desserts with one order!
Phew, thatâ€™s itâ€¦now I have to figure out what desserts I havenâ€™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!