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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Halayang Ube (Purple Yam Jam)

Of all the Filipino desserts that my mother loved to cook, Halayang Ube (Purple Yam Jam in English) is the one I remember her cooking most often when I was little. It's because we used to have ube(purple yam) in our backyard together with kamote (regular yam) and gabi(taro) back then. Ube is a tuberous root vegetable that is used as an ingredient in many Filipino desserts and pastries. According to Wikipedia, it belongs to the species Dioscorea Alata that are native to Africa and Asia. It is bright lavender in color and is rich in fiber, potassium and Vitamins B6 & C. It also has anthocyanin, an antioxidant that helps keep your body’s immune system strong and prevent cellular damage

In the Philippines, Halayang Ube is the most popular dessert made from ube. It is prepared by simply mixing mashed boiled ube tubers with evaporated milk, condensed milk and butter. It is then cooked over low heat with constant stirring until it becomes really thick and sticky, and then bottled as jam or molded into different creative shapes (like flower, fish and star) to be served on special occasions like fiestas, Christmas, weddings and birthdays. It is also a favorite topping for the Filipino favorite cooler called Halo-halo.

Last week, we got to host The Family Rosary Crusade and I made this Halayang Ube for the final prayer meeting last Saturday. I don't have fancy molds so I just used a square pyrex dish. It may not look very attractive, but it was definitely a hit! I guess the purple color makes it appealing enough...and it's really delicious, you know!

Note: 
*Fresh ube can't be found here in Texas so I always use frozen grated ube from the Asian store whenever I make halaya. It's good but I must say fresh ube tastes better. 
*Latik (fried coconut milk curd) is the most commonly used topping for Haleyang Ube. I included a procedure on how to make it. But it really takes very long to cook, so I suggest that you just use toasted coconut flakes. It's a lot quicker to make.


Ingredients:
Makes two 8"x8"x1.75" 
  • 4½ cups grated ube (If using fresh ube, cook it first in boiling water. Peel it after allowing to cool down, then grate.)
  • ¾ cup butter for cooking and about 2 Tbsp for spreading
  • 1¼  *12-oz. cans evaporated milk
  • 2  *14-oz. cans condensed milk
Topping:
  • 1½ cups coconut cream (for making latik)
or 
  • 1 cup sweetened desiccated coconut (for making toasted coconut flakes)

Procedure: 
For the Topping:
In a non-stick saucepan, pour coconut cream. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. When it boils, turn the heat to low and simmer until all the liquid evaporates and only the curds and oil are left. This will take about an hour. The curds will start forming and you can start stirring to prevent uneven browning.  Remove from heat when desired brown color is obtained. Drain from oil. Transfer to a small serving bowl or put in a sealed container for future use.
Or if you want to use toasted coconut flakes, here’s how to prepare it. In a skillet over medium low heat, toast desiccated coconut while stirring frequently for 20 minutes or until golden brown Remove from heat and allow to completely cool down.  Transfer to a small serving bowl or put in a sealed container for future use.

For the Halaya:
1. In a large pan over medium heat, melt ¾ cup butter. Add the evaporated and condensed milk and mix thoroughly until well combined with butter.
2. Turn heat to low. Add the grated ube, and cook for 40 minutes while frequently stirring to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will know your halaya is done when it is really sticky.
3. Butter the bottom of the mold/dish that you want to use. Transfer the halaya to the mold/dish. Using a buttered spatula or spoon, flatten the top of the halaya.
4. Allow to completely cool down. 
5. Top with latik or toasted coconut flakes before serving.
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