Yema / Egg Yolk and Sugar Wonder

No, it isn’t an alien egg with crystalized space dust that has gently aayemalanded on my brilliant blue ceramic plate…it’s a yema. Hmm, should I go there considering what happened with my last yema photo? For closure, by the way, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reprinted my yema photograph (along with Karen’s from Pilgrims Pots and Pans) with proper attribution. While the Inquirer did not apologize for anything (probably too worried about legal liability), Mr. Ceniza, the photo-napper, did send several emails apologizing for the incident and I now consider this closed. Thank you to the Inquirer for their response (albeit lukewarm) and to Mr. Ceniza, I hope you have learned a lesson that will serve you well the rest of your life. Enough said. Let’s talk yema, shall we? Serious arterial blockage warning…if you have any cholesterol issues at all you must sign a release and email it to me before you read the rest of this post…I will not accept responsibility for the harmful caloric intake that may occur by viewing these photographs…

There are several yema recipes out there but they do seem to fall into two general aayema2categories… one without condensed milk and one with condensed milk. Gene Gonzalez, in his book Cocina Sulipena (which I am referring to a lot lately, what with the holidays coming up and the traditional desserts and sweets that accompanies them) has a very basic but incredibly rich recipe that I tried and it resulted in the yema photographed above (though I rolled the yema in sugar and did not go the next step and coat it in caramelized sugar as well…) To make a half recipe, use 18-20 organic egg yolks, 6-7 whole organic eggs, and ½ kilo white sugar (I used caster sugar). Combine all of this and stir constantly over a double boiler until the mixture is really thick. If you do not use a double boiler, you risk burning your egg mixture and I would guess that the color would be less intense as well… Cool the mixture and roll into balls with more caster sugar. I recall yemas from childhood that did not have the caramelized sugar coating so I left these yemas “naked.” They were intense. Seriously eggy and well, not my type, really. I sent half of the finished product to some Spanish friends and they seemed to be utterly ecstatic – “just like the ones at home,” they said… I couldn’t get over the egginess and wonder if the caramelized sugar is meant to overwhelm the egg flavor and balance it out… I can see why other recipes call for dayap zest to balance flavors…

I am almost certain that the recipes using condensed milk, aayema3while an evolution from the original, is perhaps closer to the taste that most people have in their memory banks for this confection. The condensed milk would really make this more like a candy whereas the original is more of a baked confection. This is not something that is made too often and frankly, once a year is good enough for me! The color of the yemas was a nice yellow though compared to some commercial ones for sale, I would have to hazard a guess that they are using some artificial food coloring to get that intense yolk color. This yema was worth the experimental batch but I am not enamored enough to keep at it until I have achieved Marketman perfection… Let me bounce you over to Karen who seems to have a better handle on yema as most folks may like it…


14 Responses

  1. You must dip the yemas in caramel. The bitterness of the caramel and the crystal like crackle when you bite into the yema is a great intro to the soft, rich eggyolk mixture. Unfortunately the caramel is sensitive to high humidity and must be served asap except in temperate countries where the air is dry.
    Cook the egg mixture in a copper pan, lined with tin or stainless steel over low heat until it forms a ball. Stir with a wooden spoon. A tablespoon of dayap zest is good flavoring, or even better a tablespoon of vanilla plus 2 tbsp. of dark rum. Cool and roll into balls with greased hands and let dry for several hours.
    Melt a cup of white sugar over low heat in a small pan until completely dissolved and golden brown. Till the pan and drop in one ball at a time and retrieve with a fork, drain extra caramel against the side of the pot and drop the yema onto a foil or a greased cookie sheet. Let cool and wrap in cellophane.

  2. What do you do with your egg whites? When I use recipes that call for egg yolks only I feel slightly pressured to whip up something that uses the whites so nothing goes to waste.

    I’ve read somewhere you can place the egg whites in an ice tray and freeze them for use later on but I think you lose all the freshness of newly cracked open eggs when you do that.

  3. Egg whites freeze well, up to a month. I usually keep mine in a container in the freezer and when I need it, I just pull it out. Some books recommend freezing the whites in little ice cube trays so that you can just take what you need. Personally, I’m enamored with just yolks, I usually throw the whites out. (gasp!) Things that you can make with whites are angel food cake, divinities, meringues, and spreading them on top of half-baked pie crusts so that it remains crisp.

  4. MM, it’s all that bouncing that got us both into the notorious Yemagate Webnovela! Hahahahahaha! Oooopppsss, that’s a cackle, hehehe!

    I found out a more ‘ancient’ way of caramelising which uses vinegar. I’ll have to test it out first, however. No proportions were given.

  5. Nice warning, MM, sorry I still read your post without signing the release (lol). I also love yema with condensed milk.

  6. My mom used to make this kind of yema. She’d also whip Tocino del Cielo and Leche Flan and uses only the yolks. I grew up on these and really love them. You just have to eat a little at a time to appreciate the rich flavor.

    For the whites, they were used on Canonigo, Merigue, some fruit souffles, Angel food cake, or Pavalova. When she doesn’t feel like beating, she’d wipe some of these on plant leaves to make them “shiny”, uses them on her face, or just stores them in the freezer.

    I didn’t know hoot about cholesterol when I was a kid, I think it’s payback time.

  7. I don’t have a double boiler but I do have a steamer. Can I macgyver this into a crude double boiler?

  8. Now these are the yemas I like. I actually dislike the condensada and caramelized versions. I macgyvered a double boiler by fitting a pyrex bowl over a sauce pan but it took too long. Impatient as I am, I transferred it into a big kawali and just asked the cook to keep stirring over medium to low flame so it wouldn’t burn. Turned out marvelous. Thanks MM!

  9. Francis, you can double boiler a kawali over a pot with some water. Just make sure the base of the kawali doesn’t touch the boiling water. Also, don’t get water into the egg mixture. Glad you figured out a way and liked the results…

  10. The yema at Hizon’s is also lovely… i wonder if it’s made with just egg yolks and sugar… it’s hard to trust seller these days.

  11. for egg whites, you can make puto. the first yema pic above looks delicious. where can i find the gene gonzales recipe?

    FROZEN OR FRESH eggwhites make a nice good omelette, with cilantro,onions,green chiles fresh ginger and garlic salt and pepper to taste.TRY IT YOU MIGHT LIKE IT TOOlow or zero cholestrol.



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