06 Jul2006


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 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. grace says:

    nice work compiling it marketman! I GOT 7 out of the top ten in my list. my number one pick was halohalo with leche flan, which i really miss. will have to settle with kachang here in beijing

    Jul 6, 2006 | 8:34 pm


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  3. millet says:

    Congratulations, and thank you you, thank you, Marketman! Wow, you could expand this topic into a Masters Degree or PhD thesis for Anthropology or Sociology. I like the way you tried to fit the choices onto generic groupings rather than sticking with the original, very specific answers (such as “leche flan made from carabao’s milk and duck eggs, and with 1/4 tsp dayap rind”- I exaggerate, of course, but you get the idea…we can be mega-anal about our passions.) But this just goes to show that the Pinoys do not need a 4-person board to tell us what a genuine leche flan should contain and should look like (can you imagine if it is decreed that ALL leche flans henceforth should be made in a 10-inch heart-shaped llanera?). In fact, I love puto bumbong but I don’t think I’ve ever had it made with ube – as far as I know, the ones I’ve eaten have always been made with purple malagkit (a special, naturally purple-colored malagkit whose pinoy name I cannot remember at the moment).

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:12 pm

  4. edna says:

    good job MM! i noticed that you’re fond of bananas. hehe, same here. i love my guinataan with lots of saba on it, less or no bilo-bilo at all. i actually prefer the way we do it in the province with malagkit rice instead of bilo-bilo.

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:16 pm

  5. Catalina says:

    Pirurutung — that’s the stuff puto bumbong is made of.

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:21 pm

  6. edna says:

    millet, we call it tapol in negros.

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:24 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    Millet, Edna and Catalina, arrgh! You are all so right. I must have been hallucinating. I wrote ube but meant purple malagkit…though I have written elsewhere that ube is sometimes used as a color and flavor enhancer. Thanks for that, I will change it now. I have actually been updating the post after publishing it as there were a number of errors…thanks! The post is so big, my server is unhappy as well… multiple hits by readers is temporarily shutting down the site… For more on puto bumbong, please go to an earlier post at http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/misa-de-gallo-delicacies – Many thanks again!!!

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:26 pm

  8. iska says:

    oh dear! where was i when all the voting happened? na-miss ko tuloy… for dessert i love leche flan, sansrival & minatamis na saging w/ yelo!

    Jul 6, 2006 | 9:50 pm

  9. mita says:

    you are so right about the brazo de mercedes being popular with a certain age group. my aunts were experts at making this dessert and then it just disappeared from our family gatherings as strangely as it appeared…
    i think it wasn’t butter cake with yema although that was popular at one time too. I distinctly remember the farty-flavor of brazo de mercedes because it was all eggs – yema-like filling and meringue for the log.
    thanks for all your effort on this poll…it’s a very interesting read.

    Jul 6, 2006 | 11:21 pm

  10. Christine says:

    YAY You did the dessert poll! Thanks MM. I was looking forward to this one, the sweet tooth that I am. :)

    I have to say, there is nothing on this list that I don’t like. They’re all top to me!

    Jul 6, 2006 | 11:31 pm

  11. trishlovesbread says:

    I’m not a fan of brazo de mercedes (or floating island or any soft meringue for that matter), but it’s a good way to use up all the extra egg whites from making ensaimada. Just curious–how come chocolate didn’t make it to the list?

    Jul 7, 2006 | 1:50 am

  12. Maria says:

    MM you’re the best. Thanks for compiling all these. My problem now is I want to taste all of them. Leche flan is my all time favorite as well as the pastillas de leche. Great pics too.

    Jul 7, 2006 | 2:17 am

  13. jay says:

    this made me drool and miss pinoy food !
    :D – from a kapampangan management consultant working in the us

    Jul 7, 2006 | 2:59 am

  14. Marketman says:

    mita, “the farty flavor of eggs” is just SPOT ON. I just looked up a recipe and you are right, it’s mostly egg whites and I know why I haven’t had it in years…it’s that farty flavor indeed! I was chuckling for several seconds when I read that description! trish, I am surprised that chocolate didn’t make it either…but then again, there aren’t too many chocolate based desserts here…maybe some hot chocolate but that’s more breakfast or merienda fare… Maria and jay…click on some of the links to more details on each of the desserts!

    Jul 7, 2006 | 6:13 am

  15. MasPinaSarap says:

    I’ve seen black pirurutong, are they all black? Also, we use “duduman” I think it’s called, to make kakanin, which is the burnt new rice I believe.
    I’d pretty much have to agree with everyone on this top 20. Sapin-Sapin being one of my personal faves.
    If anyone knows a good recipe for Puto, I’d greatly appreciate some help. It’s my understanding that true Puto has no wheat flour only rice flour, and is pure white. Looking pretty much exactly that in the picture. :)

    Jul 7, 2006 | 7:56 am

  16. RST says:

    I prayed all week to San Judas Tadeo, the patron saint of lost causes, and that lovely, unjustly-neglected dessert called canonigo still didn’t make it :0( ;0)

    Jul 7, 2006 | 9:03 am

  17. Tiffany says:

    Sapin Sapin – try Dolor’s in Malabon.

    Jul 7, 2006 | 9:55 am

  18. millet says:

    yes, pirurutung! and yes, we call it tapol in davao, too. and thanks, again, MM. i forgot to say that the sapin-sapin in your picture looks like it came from dolor’s? although i’m a bit uncomfortable about all the artificial food colors that i think go into these things, my favorite part of dolor’s sapin-spain is still the red cuchinta – totally different super-makunat but soft texture-it’s different from any cuchinta i’ve ever had. i remember a balikbayan cousin whose favorite pinoy food memory was of “patong-patong” – turns out he was referring to dolor’s.

    chocolate? the only pinoy dessert with chocolate that i know of (aside from “sikwate”) is moron (accent on the last syllable)- the visayan suman with in which the malagkit is mixed with tablea. no, we pinoys can’t get away from rice, even when we’re talking chocolate. moron comes either as one black-brown roll, as in MM’s picture..(is that lower one moron,MM?),or as one fat black/brown and white suman made of the chocolate suman intertwined with a plain suman malagkit. the best moron i’ve had comes from tacloban (i can;t help but think there’s something funny-sounding about that line, eh?). the ones i’ve tasted in manila don’t come close.

    Jul 7, 2006 | 10:52 am

  19. izang says:

    right on, MM!!! i really love your blog……i got wind of it from my twin sister and has been part of my lunch break eversince!…..

    just read ur post on the yema incident…that GUY may or may not know that he can’t use pics from the net…we can never really tell…….he sure as hell regretting it to the last yema ball he will eat….

    he’ll never look at another yema the same way again…….bwahahahaha

    Jul 7, 2006 | 1:05 pm

  20. kaye says:

    thanks for the compilation.. it was soooo yummy… i loved reminiscing my childhood since almost everything you mentioned in your list i’ve tasted and enjoyed eating when i was a child.. i love sapin-sapin!! yummy!!!

    Jul 8, 2006 | 5:08 am

  21. Wilson Cariaga says:

    sorry if I sound innocent, but I really didn’t know that sans rival is a filipino dessert. . . and I think I forgot Brazo in my top ten as it is one of my favorites. . .hehe

    Jul 8, 2006 | 8:08 am

  22. Marketman says:

    Several of these desserts are “imported” and adopted…leche flan is brought in, sans rival,pastillas, yema and arguably, even halo halo is not totally “native”…

    Jul 8, 2006 | 8:32 am

  23. Liz says:

    I noticed only 2 entries for carioca were mentioned. Maybe it has another name, (deep fried sweet rice balls, skewered on a stick, and drizzled with carmelized sugar syrup)? It’s one of my all time favorites. Is it because it’s not native to PI, since I’ve only had it in the States?

    Jul 8, 2006 | 12:07 pm

  24. Candsmd says:

    Hi Marketman,
    Have you tried Pixie Sevilla’s version of the Brazo de Mercedes? The filling is so DIFFERENT. None of that ‘eggy-malansa taste’. I can’t figure out what’s in it. Her Braze de Remedios are available at Forget Me Not cakes beneath the Hot Rocks steak outlet, near the Club Sixfifty sports center/club. This is the lot beside Shopwise in Libis. I was there last night, too bad they didn’t have it in stock but was happy with the Turtle Pie. I have also tasted her Princess cake many years ago, when her store was located in New Manila. Please try the Brazo de Remedios and let me know :-)

    Jul 9, 2006 | 8:53 am

  25. Marketman says:

    Candsmd, no I haven’t had the opportunity to sample Ms. Sevilla’s desserts. I don’t get to Libis that often but will keep an eye out for these goodies when I do…many thanks for the tip!

    Jul 9, 2006 | 9:06 am

  26. mardie says:

    MM you did it again. thumbs up to you! im salivating as im typing. i cant wait to get home and stuff myself with these pinoy fave treats, one treat for each day. lets see, i’ll be in pinas for 30 possibly 42 days so i guess i will have to go over the reader’s entries and see which deserts didnt make it to the top 20. and as the poll came out, halo-halo would be the number one treat that i will be pigging out on from the first day back home.

    Jul 9, 2006 | 5:13 pm

  27. linda says:

    This is a world first and best compilation of Pinoy desserts ever(according to my books). Your pics looked great and delicious! I’m salivating!

    Thank you,MM!

    Jul 10, 2006 | 9:29 am

  28. Jeffrey Pilpil says:

    Can i get som of the ingredients and procedure of your delicasies? Thanks…

    Aug 24, 2006 | 3:54 pm

  29. Marketman says:

    Jeffrey, just follow the links or look the recipes up in my archives…they are there.

    Aug 24, 2006 | 9:49 pm

  30. Beki Pallesen says:

    Hi there
    I vote for Brazo de Mercedes. I live in Norway and can get versions of the other desserts in the list but not Brazo de Mercedes. I’ll have to make a second attempt.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:11 pm


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