Favorite Christmas Delicacies/Sweets…

Hi everyone. In a moment of weakness I agreed to write an article over the next week or so on Filipino delicacies for the December issue of a travel magazine. I want to focus on delicacies that Filipinos who now live abroad perhaps miss the most when the holiday season gets into full swing. In particular, if you are a balikbayan or Filipino who hasn’t been home for a while (or even a Filipino resident that has a sweet tooth and strong opinions about what you like for Christmas), what would be on your list of “goodies” to have if you were coming home for Christmas 2011? I have reviewed a pinoy dessert poll I took in June 2006, where folks raised hundreds of different goodies, here, and this summary of the results, that lists out the Top 20 Filipino desserts as voted on by Marketmanila.com readers, here. So while I am inclined to focus on the favorites, like puto bumbong for that early morning hit of carbohydrates after the early mass, bibingka, cassava cake, suman, leche flan, ensaimada, sapin-sapin, pastillas de leche, kutsinta, puto, biko, ube jaleya, etc., I would love to hear what YOU YEARN FOR during the holidays. Please leave a comment and thanks for your help… :)

A special note for reader PanchoA, from Cebu. In a post on Christmas recipes in 2008, you mentioned that your mom was the creator of the Black Princess Cake, a merging of chocolate cake in a brazo de Mercedes type roll, a Cebu specialty from the 1960’s, I gather. I have finally tracked down a copy of your mom’s cookbook “Philippine Cookery and Household Hints” published in 1970, with the green cover, but it doesn’t have the recipe for the cake in it! :( Any other hints as to where it might be located? :) Thanks!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

78 Responses

  1. Plus 1 vote for the Puto Bumbong from me. Also cassava cake, leche flan, espasol, pastilyas and macapuno balls.

  2. Ube halaya would be on the top of my list……………. wish i would be spending christmas in Pinas this year….

  3. 1) Putobumbong- straight from the food cart after simbang gabi
    2) Sans rival
    3) Pastillas
    4) Yema, preferrably yema ube
    5) Bibingka

  4. What I yearn for are actually fruits especially saging na lacatan and ripe manggang kinalabaw, I prefer that over manggang piko , I would rather eat fruits for dessert than cake. But the delicacy I miss is UBE JALEYA made from ube from our small farm.

  5. MM, My copy of the cookbook is the 3rd edition with a blue cover and the recipe isn’t there either. I think PanchoA mentioned that it was in the early editions. It maybe in the 1st printing. He also mentioned that they plan to update and release the cookbook again. I wonder if they finally got to do it.

  6. Ok…going back to your old posts, MM….I have the cookbook…don’t know which edition though because no more cover but if my memory serves me right, mine was lilac in color. Recipe of what you are looking for is not there either. But PanchoA described it as “chocolate cake which took the place of the meringue layer and topped with mocha icing”. Now, in that cookbook (what I have anyway) there is a recipe for Chocolate chiffon. I have used my Mocha chiffon which I have shared in previous posts and made it into lots of times to make Mocha Rolls. So, I can only assume that the Chocolate Chiffon cake recipe in that cookbook will work as well. However, without tasting the Black Princess Roll…I would make mine with a flourless chocolate cake rolled up and filled and iced with Mocha Icing or Mocha whipped cream!

    I have to make ensaymadas tonight but will experiment with the Black Princess roll early tom. morning while hubby is away to Alberta for a few days!

  7. Maya Flour has published a “Black Princess” recipe that sounds pretty horrific, here. I am not sure what the original BP was filled with, but maybe Pancho or Wahini will weigh in with their comments… :)

  8. Hi MM and BettyQ,

    The original Black Princess Roll recipe appeared in the earlier editions of “Philippine Cookery and Household Hints” by Herminia Villacorta-Alvarez.

    She is currently working on the updated edition, which is tailored for Pinoys in the US and other parts of the world outside of Inang Bayan Pilipinas, as they always email her on how-to-do this “in da istets”, as the ingredients are so different, in terms of taste.

    There, you will find the recipe of the original Black Princess Roll. It was made, for a time, by one of our pastry bakers, who we found employment for in the old Vienna Kaffeehaus back in the mid-80s when our family had to migrate to Manila, following the separation of my parents and the subsequent difficulties of property separation and all that.

    The cake, for a while, tasted the same, until the owners started substituting ingredients to lower the production cost. It was never quite the same after that.

    When my mom came over back in 1996, to help us with a failed food enterprise, we did the roll all over again, with great delight as it tasted exactly as we remembered it – but we were aghast with how much it would actually cost on the market, if we were to sell it at the same formula that we were using back in the mid 1970’s onward.

    Needless to say, we did not pursue it because we had a market that wanted it, but did not want to pay for it. (Along with other memorable pastries we also did in those early Black Princess years – the shop was at the end of the Diez Building, along V. Ranudo, beside Velez Hospital).

    We, as a family, had agreed to already leave that recipe inside the cookbook, as part of our mother’s legacy both to ourselves as her heirs (she is in her late 70’s already) and to her former students and customers who remember the delights they enjoyed in our little pastryshop when we were all younger.

    The cookbook will be available very soon. I’m currently in the process of helping my mom edit it (online, as she lives in Cape Coral, Fla.) and am in search for a local publisher to give an equitable return for the rights to publish her book here – the US publication will be done with a US company already.

    Hope that helps.

  9. Pancho,

    Let me know when the book has been published and where it is available, I can put an announcement on this blog for the interested readers… thanks!

  10. I would like to make/bake:
    1) tibok-tibok
    2) ensaymada (Betty q, hint…hint… hinihintay ko pa rin sa mail/email)
    3) puto bumbong
    4) puto kutsinta
    5) mango torte


  12. Wisdom tooth…kutsinta?…the easiest thing in the world to make. Just ask Marissewalangkaparis. But do not ask me which post it is in! …same goes for Tibok2…you can make it with your eyes closed…

  13. My favorite Chrismas delicacies are:
    Puto bumbong
    I like fruitcake (the good kind) with lots of nuts, dried fruits and not dry
    Putong Polo
    Bibingka with kesong puti and itlog na maalat
    and many more

  14. For Christmas sweets and delicacies, what I miss the most are:

    1) Bibingka with extra salted eggs on top
    2) Puto Bumbong
    3) Ube Halaya

    If not for Ms. BettyQ, I would also include Ensaymada and Sans Rival to this list. Maybe on my next visit to the Philippines, I will try to haul back the earthenware used to cook proper Bibingka.

  15. Puto Bumbong
    Bibingka (cooked apoy sa ilalim at ibabaw)
    Puto, rice puto in different colours
    Suman – ibus, fried n butter and dipped in sugar
    Ube Haleya from the nuns in Tagaytay
    Pastillas from Bulacan
    Sapin-sapin from Dolor’s Malabon

  16. ECC…use the cazuela? For the burner, use the hot pot burner with the charcoal. If there is a will, there is a way! Better yet, take pottery classes which is what I am doing in January, and then make the clay bibingka moulds…

  17. Ms. BettyQ – oh yes, I just Googled to see where I can buy a cazuela and they are very reasonably priced. I don’t have a hot pot burner but I am sure I can come up with something. Are there any great recipes out there? I’ll check MM’s archives. Thank you very much!

  18. PanchoA that is good to hear. I will be keeping an eye out for the new edition of your Mom’s cookbook.

  19. Betty q, what size of mould do you use for your kutsinta to fit in your steamer? Ang hirap ng taga liblib na lugar… BTW, thanks for your tomato recipes!!

  20. Buko Pandan! made with the makunat gulaman by Mr. Gulaman :) and soft young coconut meat .. there are lots of coconuts at the grocery here in LA but its either frozen or you need an itak to crack it open and no sign of the small Mr. Gulaman packs here :(

  21. Wisdom tooth: Ok…I like baby kutsinta so I use the baby muffin tins….makes excellent pamigay together with baby puto ube. Besides, that is the only size that fits in my steamer. When my mom was still alive, she brought from Pinas those individual kutsinta moulds. If I can find them, I will send some to you. Kaya pag lumuwas? ka sa kabihasnan, make sure you buy the PINOY lihia. Do not make the mistake of buying the Chinese one. I learned my lesson!

  22. What I would like to have a taste of is Mr. Claude Tayag’s PARADISO as well as Good Shepherd’s UBE HALEYA. Next comes….Mr. Sorbetero’s Dirty Ice Cream…like ATIS, Cheese, Pinipig, Cashew-Langka to name a few. I know, MM….we have Casa Gelato over here with those flavours except Atis!

  23. My mom’s bibingka, my nanay’s puto ube, Dolor’s kakanin, Bulacan’s pastillas de leche, minatamis na anything: saging saba, macapuno, beans, kaong, nata.

  24. ube halaya, every xmas i’m always tasked of making that sticky and vibrant purple sweets..
    pulvoron, cashew being the favorite flavor.. i’ve always made dozens to give to inaanaks every xmas day..

  25. Fruitcake. Although some monks here in the US make very good fruitcakes. But I still can’t find one that has the right amount of rum (read as “a lot of rum”) in it. Or maybe the nostalgia is amping up the taste factor in my rememberings.

    But the more traditional Filipino treat that I always crave for is the piaya. Toasted, flaky with just the right amount of sweet jam/bao on the inside. Yum!

  26. I associate Christmas with the following Pinoy sweet stuff:

    1. Bibingka with salted duck egg and queso de bola, plus shredded coconut topping
    2. Ube halaya
    3. Leche flan
    4. Puto bumbong
    5. Fruit salad – a staple in every Pinoy home

    I also look forward to sipping a cup of tsokolate during this particular season.

  27. Puto Binan……I’ve been looking everywhere for a recipe without any luck. Also chewy Food for the Gods. Betty Q….any thoughts??

  28. Marihmac…as for chewy FFTG, I find that using melted butter yields a FFtg on the chewy side….note that because the butter is not creamed, you are not incorporating a lot of air. To make it even more malinamnam, use burnt butter in place of regular melted butter. It gives a more nutty taste and aroma akin to butter pecan. Now to make it even over the top, omit the nuts and make pecan caramel filling or omit the nuts in the filling and add it to the batter….a thin layer of pecan caramel between 2 sheets of FFTG and cut them in small, tiny pieces. It is like DATE-CARAMEL INIPIT?

  29. Wow,BettyQ great ideas! Thanks.
    My mom used to order the Corsicana fruitcake in the US to make our X’mas buffet complete. She sliced it thinly “para di nakakaumay”. But for local delicacies,none can surpass puto bum bong and bibingkang galapong with kesong Puti and itlog maalat on top!

  30. Bibingka
    Puto bumbong
    Ube haleya
    Leche flan
    And my favorite, Tikoy with pili from Camarines norte (this is the sweet and brownish tikoy that you eat “fresh”, no need for frying.

  31. I miss making my chocolate coated polvorons for Christmas, halayang ube, macapuno (minatamis – strings or balls) and my aunt’s gulaman made with coconut milk….and sapin-sapin.

  32. Carioca
    Kalamay Hirin
    Inihaw na Suman Taal
    Sapin Sapin from Malabon
    Haleyang Ube ( Makunat )

  33. I am permanently rooted here in the Philippines, but I’d like to share my tidbit regarding Christmas sweets. =)

    Haleyang Ube was the “official” Christmas and New Year sweet in our family before. It would take us the whole day making it. My mom would boil and peel the tubers, then coarsely grind it on a plastic thing that looked like a plate with many holes. The holes had small teeth surrounding them. Then my father would set up the small talyasi over some coals and start mixing the ground ube with sugar and milk. My brothers and I would then take turns endlessly mixing it (to avoid scorching the ube at the bottom of the vat). Of course, the haleya got thicker and stiffer by the hour, so mixing it became increasingly hard labor for us. We would sprinkle grated queso de bola into it every so often to balance out the sweetness.

    After sufficient cooling, the haleya would be packed into sterilized jars, and then refrigerated. The next day the haleya is so wonderfully stiff that you could stick a spoon into it and the spoon wouldn’t fall!

  34. dreaming of a not too sweet, heavenly ube haleya like my mom used to make, she would also pound these unripe sabas with coconut and sugar in a knee-high mortar and pestle, and my beloved nanny of 10 years or so loved to make these rice cakes (i don’t know what they’re called) using her very own steamer (basically old cans with holes poked into them). no fancy cake will ever take the place of these childhood sweets for me.

  35. PanchoA, would also like to have a copy of that cookbook.

    MM, in my Christmas delicacy wishlist would be: Tocino del Cielo, Food for the Gods (well-made, not the yucky commercial, run of the mill types), fruitcake (same category as FFTG), crema de manga, apple pie, puto bumbong, that strawberry layer cake from Beehive (for Cebu folks), puto maya and tsokolate (after the misa de gallo), these great oatmeal/guava jelly cookies that are made to order in cebu (only during christmas and i forgot the name of the lady who made them!!)

    shoutout to cebu folks: if any of you know the name of this lady who makes these wonderful oatmeal/guava jelly cookies, please let me know. the pick up point for her cookies was outside club jaguar at st. michael’s village road in banilad. please help me remember! miss her cookies!

  36. mazapan de pili
    pili budin squares
    biko topped with latik
    Lucena cassava cake with macapuno strands
    bibingka with salted eggs
    nilupak na saging with roasted cashews,freshly grated coconuts and palm sugar
    sapin sapin
    putong puti (fresh from the steamer)
    minatamis na bao
    guinataan with everything thrown in (sweet potatoes, bananas, sago pearls, ube, pandan, langka rice dumplings)
    balisuso wrapped in banana leaves
    pastillas de leche
    pili brittles
    maruyang saba with ground rice batter, set in cocoa leaves and deep fried in coconut oil
    hot ensaimada with macapuno jam slathered on top
    freshly baked pan de coco
    .. how’s that for a sugar and starch overload, hahaha..

    MM, these are sweets etched into my memory forever.

  37. My wishlist would be:
    Ube Jaleya
    Bibingka and
    Cassava cake

    Wish I could get authentic tasting kakanin here in Oz. :(

  38. 1. puto bumbong
    2. special bibingka
    3. ensaimada
    4. leche flan
    5. ube jalaea cooked by my nanny!!!
    Oh how I miss home… This is my first time to spend Christmas outside the Phils. since my family and I were already staying here in Vietnam. But I’m pretty sure, wala pa ring tatalo sa Paskong Pinas.huhuhu! :((

  39. I know that cookbook! My mother gave me a copy. I bring it with me wherever I go along with nora daza’s.
    If there is a freshman 10, there must be a balikbayan 10. The culprit: halo-halo, sapin-sapin, leche flan, and anything with coconut milk:)

  40. Simple bibingka made from pure galapong, sprinkled with sugar on top and served with shredded coconut. They sell this outside the church in my dad’s hometown. It goes with a cup of salabat. Comfort food for chilly December dawns.

  41. 1. bibingka galapong- ferino’s
    2. filipino fruitcake- the kind made around October, then aged in the fridge and brushed with brandy weekly until consumed around Christmas
    3. boat tarts (cashew tarts?) bought yearly from a neighbor
    4. sapin-sapin- the kind that has different flavors like ube and langka for each colorful layer, not the kind available at the filipino bakeshop here that only uses food color for the different layers, and is otherwise pretty tasteless) :(

  42. My ultimate holiday delicacy craving is Puto maya paired with sikwate, while Ham tops the list for the meat.

  43. PanchoA, as a kid I used to save up my allowance so I can go to Black Princess and have the Black Princess cake. My aunt used to own the office supply store down the block from the bakery. I remember going to a summer cooking class at the bakery and being sorely disappointed that your mom did not show us how to make the Black Princess cake. Please do let us know when her new book is out.

    MarketMan, any plans of having an eyeball in SFO?

  44. I am back in ‘Pins for the holidays during the colder months in the US ( but wishing that in escaping the cold I do not run into floods and torrential rains) but still yearning for the traditional pan de sal ( not the spongy nowadays variety) stuffed with kesong puti.

    I yearn for the pastillas de leche made from carabao milk ( and not with a horrible mix of powdered milk and evaporated condensed milk, Yikes!); conjures image of Lola Enyang in her traditional saya stopping by the house during the holidays with boxes of these goodies from Isla Verde. These goodies were larger which somehow satisfied the palate more than the micromini ones you get nowadays.

    I yearn for puto bumbong from street vendors outside the old church, the cold December breeze touching my cheeks after misa de gallo then coming home to eat them with chocolate “e”.

    I yearn for my dad’s Chinese ham ( cooked similar to sister’s recipe) with the glistening translucent fatty layer which he tops with brown sugar with orange juice and caramelized using a very hot syanse ( no oven for us in those days) then cut in thin slices and sandwiched in hot pan de sal with slivers of crunchy sweet gherkins.

    I yearn for the suman wrapped in banana leaves that lasted many days without refrigeration when cooked right, the plump sweet kalabaw mangoes to go with it that took me to delicacy heaven every holiday season at afternoon merienda.

    Ah…..remembrances of things past. Footloose, where are you?

  45. It’s good to have you back, Sister! ….missed your comments!

    Does anyone know how Silly Lolo is doing?…anyone…Silly Lolo’s sister? ….or Ms. Nesting Grounds? I would love to hear how he is doing…better yet to meet him for we are heading your way in November!

  46. Ube Halaya is the best for Christmas and New Year celebration!

    @ betty Q, can I have your recipe for puto kutsinta and puto ube? My Aussie husband and my son loves it but cant find good and easy to follow recipe.

  47. I found this recipe of Natilla-Filled Chocolate Cake (Black Princess)
    by New Gen Baker in the net . https://www.newgenbaker.com/recipes.php?id=27
    I hope this similar to PanchoA recipe….

    Natilla-Filled Chocolate Cake (Black Princess)

    1/2 cup condensed milk
    1 cup milk
    1 eggyolk
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1 tablespoon butter


    2/3 cup cocoa powder
    1-1/2 cups MAYA All-Purpose Flour
    1-3/4 cups sugar
    1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    2/3 cup butter
    1 cup water
    3 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla


    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon coffee
    2 cups evaporated milk
    1 cup condensed milk
    1/4 cup MAYA All-Purpose Flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 tablespoon butter

    1) Preheat Oven to 350°F.
    2) Grease and line two 9-inch round pans.
    3) Sift first 6 ingredients together. Set aside.
    4) Cream butter until fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with water and beat for about 2 minutes until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat 1 minute longer.
    5) Pour into prepared pans. Bakefor 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Let cool.
    6) Combine all ingredients for Natilla except butter in a double boiler and cook until thick. Remove from fire. Stir in butter.
    7) In a heavy bottom saucepan mix together all ingredients for chocolate icing except baking soda and butter. Cook until thick; stir in baking soda and butter.
    8) To assemble: Fill layers of cake with Natilla.
    9) Ice decoratively with chocolate icing.

    Serves 8-12

  48. palitaw with latik sauce
    bibingkang galapong
    minatamis na tubo ng sasa (sweetened nipa palm sprouts)
    minatamis na latak (sweetened gel from tuba)

  49. my hubby’s buco pandan salad
    my aunt’s leche flan with macapuno on top
    my yaya’s cassava cake
    and my mom’s ube halaya

    cant wait for Christmas! :)

  50. I yearn for the following during Christmastime and just about any day of the year: kutchinta, nilupak na saging, pangasinan puto, puto ube and puto from bacolod. A few more weeks and I will indulge my cravings for them soon after I arrive home!

  51. Definitely Sans Rival, Polvorone, Hiyema, and Bacalao a la Viscania. Foods my grandmother served along with Iberico Ham.

  52. Pinksalmonlady…paki search na lang MM’s archives. It is somewhere in there! Type the following in search engine…puto ube and somewhere in that post is kutsinta as well if I am not mistaken.

    MM…I don’t know but what I yearn for during Christmas time is the Pinoy spirit of Christmas…amidst the kaguluhan from coming from such a big family…the kids caroling asking for Pamasko and I have the task of giving them their Pamasko for I usually am down with the FLU every Christams (it never fails…to this very day ….something I have to look forward to EVERY CHRISTMAS!). I can make the things I used to eat back home, but without the company of everybody as I was growing up, it is not the same.

    You once told us that Pinoy hospitality should be patented…I think Pinoy Christmas spirit should be as well!

  53. 1. Puto Bumbong (somehow it tastes better for me during Christmas season)

    2. My Tita’s homemade Ube Halaya. She gives this away only for Christmas

    3. Leche Flan

  54. Hi bettyQ. You are absolutely right and this time I will be experiencing that special Pinoy spirit at Christmastime in the company of my other relatives who I have missed for so many holidays.

    You might ward off the flu by getting your flu shot now and perhaps taking a break from making all the goodies we all yearn for so you are not so fatigued and susceptible to the virus.

  55. I hereby declare the food that I look forward to making and devouring this coming yuletide season as follows:

    1. Morcon
    2. Adelina’s Ham – I’d probably go to Mandaluyong too :)
    3. Leche Flan
    4. Empanadas
    5. Sinukmani
    6. Pastel
    7. Bibingka
    8. Pichi-pichi
    9. Sapin-sapin
    10. Tsokolate at ensaymada
    11. Pastillas
    12. My mom’s potato salad! :)

  56. Oh bettyQ, you had me at Date-Pecan inipit! =)

    Answers from a few friends and relatives in the US:
    authentic bibingka-galapong with salted duck’s egg and kesong puti
    kutsinta at puto na nilalako ni Manang pag hapon (she’s still at it, after 25 years)
    biko with latik and langka strips
    Ube halaya ng Good Shepherd

  57. MM, its 10:30 pm here in Abu Dhabi. Its pitch black in our room. Hubby is sleeping peacefully beside me, and I’m on my blackberry reading your blog & everyone’s comments.

    Before I knew it, tumulo luha ko.
    4 years but it seems like forever.

    I know its off topic, but maybe u can add cheesy christmas songs to the list. Yun na lang kulang, and the simoy ng hangin. :)

  58. hi marketman:

    the 1st thing that came to my mind is my mother-in-law’s torta. Lourdes Mercader Borromeo of Cebu has a torta that is a cross between a moist pound cake and a mamon, hard to achieve that texture, but she pulls it off. It is buttery with shavings of local cheddar cheese and sweet enough to satisfy a sweet craving without being cloying. I literally consumed several tortas at once when I fitst tried them and now that I am in Manila I always long for her tortas. On special occasions other than Christmas, she would accede to our request and ship us a boxful by plane.If I lived abroad and would have no access to it, I would literally pine for it!

  59. Pinksalmonlady…for the puto ube & kutsinta, type in BettyQ’s reference recipes. You’ll find a treasure of yummy recipes. MM, thank you for that compilation of Betty q’s recipes. Makes it very easy to search…
    Sister, tried your pLum cake recipe and gave out to some friends. I got a thank you card for it. We enjoyed it, sister. Thanks!

  60. Special bibingka na may itlog na maalat at kesong puti and Estrel’s Caramel cake plus the homemade christmas ham na ginagawa ng mom ko. Sadly, I won’t be home for Christmas this year but i’ll be going home this November. Does anybody have a recipe of Caramel cake like Estrels? I tried experimenting for the caramel icing, but I failed :(

  61. My GrandMas suman sa lihiya,maruekos,leche flan,tamales,biko,special bibinka topped with salted eggs,suman sa lihiya,puto bongbong,puto,kutsinta,my dads buko dessert with langka, Malolos ensaimada_- all home made from scratch and my momsfresh buko fruit salad.Waaah, MM I miss the Philippines! I must go home very soon.Thank you for a very informative blog and more power to you!

  62. I will never, never forget my Dad’s minatamis na garbanzos, minatamis na beans, and special halaya. These are permanent sweets during Christmas which i always replicated here in the US, just to reminisce those good old days with my Dad. I can really cry an ocean reading this blog.

  63. MM and Betty Q,

    Do you have a recipe for the Camiguin Pastel? I would really love to learn how to bake that one, so soft and yummy!

    Also, Pancho A, we hope you could update MM when the cookbook comes out. (Please MM, do a post once it’s available)

    Thanks everyone!

  64. Ang siguradong hinahanap-hanap ng mga kababayan natin abroad ay yung traditional pinoy desserts (a.k.a. “minatamis”), kagaya ng halayang ube, bibingka, puto bumbong, kalamay w/ latik, etc. At siyempre pa, ang all-time-favorite natin na “Leche Flan”, although hindi tunog-Pinoy, hindi ito nawawala sa mga handaan o fiesta. Ano nga ba sa Tagalog ang Leche Flan?? (any idea Marketman?)….

Comments are closed.