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Friday, January 20, 2012

Irresistible Filipino desserts for Foreigners

Once you try this you will be hooked for life. It's name HaloX2

Coming from a country where desserts are so commercialized I was at first taken back when introduced to desserts in the Philippines. I had some kind of barrier in my mind that if it did not come in a nicely printed package it must be of a lower grade. Boy was I wrong!

I discovered some wonderful addictive sweets during my time in the Philippines. Most likely responsible for a few kilo's of insulation around my waist! These scrumptious local creations are cheap, safe to eat and irresistible!

 There is so much more than only taste that makes a food good. The atmosphere you eat it in also plays an important role in how it tastes to you.  I have very distinct memories that accompany my experience of eating sweets in the Philippines. I am getting hungry just writing this! Here are some of my favorite irresistible desserts in the Philippines.


The first time I saw Lecheflan I thought I was being served the Italian dessert called "Cream Brulei". I was in a restaurant in the city of Tagaytay and had seen the picture on the menu. It was the only thing I was familar with. The carmalized looking dessert just sounded perfect for my mood as I looked out over the spectacular view of the Taal Vocano.  

When the smiling waitress brought me the Lecheflan I could not wait to dig in and try it out. I was expecting a hardened carmalized top like Cream Brulei but much to my surprise when I had sliced through it was soft.  This is a melt in your mouth kind of dessert. And the portion is never enough that's for sure. 

Lecheflan gives me memories of eating in Restaurants in the Philippines

The most affordable dessert is called Ice Buko

This is probably one of the more simpler delicacies in the Philippines that is affordable by most everyone. Sold in most small Sari Sari stores throughout the Philippines it usually costs no more than 5 pesos for a small bag of this frozen coconut splendor.  Ice buko is a mix of condensed sweetened milk with shavings of white coconut inside. It is frozen typically in small poly bags and is quick and easy to eat. A perfect sweet treat on a hot day. A favorite amongst Filipino children of all ages and foreigners like my self who cannot say no! 

Iced Buko gives me memories of children standing in front of sari sari stores in the Philippines 

Picture from  Yummy!

My first experience eating Halo Halo was in a Chow King restaurant in Cebu City. I had actually seen it many times but I was not used to purple color ice cream so I had always passed on the opportunity. It was a blazing hot day in the summer of 2001 when I had gone to Cebu to help with a donation for a young girl from Samar. There I had taken her relatives out to Chow King to eat. I was literally sweating as I stood there and looked at the lighted picture of Halo Halo. The ice in the picture drew me into it. What could be better in a hot country than ice I thought?  So I ordered Halo Halo for everyone. 

For the westerner who might be used to traditional toppings like chocolate, caramel, strawberry Halo Halo might seem a bit bizarre are first. With things like coconut string, sweet beans, jack fruit and something called Ube it can be a bit overwhelming. But all it takes is one bite of this Halo Halo on a hot day and there is no turning back.  The best thing about Halo Halo is that as you are eating it, it is constantly melting and mixing itself into an exotic blend to the point that you are literally drinking the last part of it.  Don't pass this one up! 

When I think of Halo Halo, I think of Chow King in the Philipines

I can't wait to eat this one again. It's too good!

No matter where I traveled in the Philippines this was available from the cities to the most remote mountain villages. I never realized how boring I used to eat my banana's until I discovered Bananaque.  The first time I tried it I was sitting on my bulldozer nearly at the top of the second highest mountain in Cebu. I was helping to fix a landslide and was taking a much needed break. A lady came walking by and had a homemade woven basket with her. Inside there were banana leaves and on top of those were some odd shape tan colored "things". I had no idea what it was. Each piece had a stick through it. I thought maybe it was some kind of exotic meat at first. Then she picked one up and handed it to me. She said "Saging?" "Bananaque?".  I knew the word saging meant Banana so I gladly accepted it.  Wow! This is a Banana that is BBQ'd over a charcoal fire then marinated with margarine and brown sugar. Sometimes it's deep fried in cooking oil too. What a taste! I personally have never been able to eat only one and usually consume 3 or 4 of them at a time.  It's readily available everywhere in the Philippines.  

Bananaque brings back memories of being in remote places in the Philippines. 

With every experience of eating sweets in the Philippines it brings back fond memories where I was at the time of the first bite. It is interesting to me as a foreigner who was quite rigid in my thinking concerning sweets, how I have changed so much to truly like something that looked strange at first. 

There are many more sweets I had there like Buko Salad, Macapuno candies, Suman and Bibinka that I miss very much. My wife does her best to make these things for me when she finds the ingredients but truly it has been a long time. Subsequently the size of my waist has decreased too. LOL

Hope you are not too hungry!      Kain Tayo! Kaon na ta!  



  1. February 16, 2012

    Good day!

    This is Maris Castro program researcher of GMA Network, Inc. Currently we are making a story about Pinoy summer food such as Halo- Halo, iced candy and more. I read your blog about halo-halo and we would like to interview you about how do you find those summer foods.

    You may contact me through my e-mail address Thank you so much!

    Mary Rose Castro
    Program Reseacher

    1. Hi Mary Rose, I am happy you like my post on Filipino Desserts. They sure are good! At the moment we are out of the Philippines. We hope to return there soon and I certainly will contact you. God bless your "sweet" job!

  2. I am so happy that you enjoy your stay here in the Philippines. Just be safe and remember to be fully aware of your surroundings so that you won't be a victim of some common crimes here in the Philippines. We truly appreciate an open minded and adventurous foreigner like you. Stay happy and God bless. :)

  3. Those sure are yummy, thinking of grabbing a bite after reading your blog...might go for halo-halo since its so HOT...