My friend Maricel’s New Year “Round Things”

No squares for the New Year, unless you happen to be in New York City’s Times Square…gotta be or gotta have lots and lots of “round things” for good luck!  Well, I love a prosperous New Year and I’d always wear blouse or dress with polka dots lol!  My friend Maricel called me up from Canada and begged me (and how can I say NO to her, she’d always make me believe I make the best kakanins in Chicago…definitely not true, but I’ve been making her native sweets for years, for the record!) to make her some “round sweets” to celebrate the New Year.



SAPIN-SAPIN (Layered Rice Cake)










Happy New Year to All!  And I’m not yet sure about my New Year’s Resolutions…more of some things…less of many things.


‘Tis The Holiday Baking Season

I really don’t mind spending countless hours, alone, in my kitchen making my Christmas goodies for family and friends.  I should have started this project in November yet, but I did some traveling.   And with that “almost-winter” traveling, there’s a price to pay…climate changes and voila, “bugs” easily overpowered my body defenses.  Oh no!  Oh yes, poor me.  Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and heed the doctor’s advice — no baking, lol!

The very moment I won over the “bugs” a la Petra Kvitova garnering almost all the awards of the tennis season (now you know I am addicted to pro women’s tennis matches), I must, do my best to complete the giveaway treats first in 2 days, package them and ship without delay.   2 days to do:  coconut macaroons, mango bars, Ube crinkles, brownie butter bites, mamon tostado and food for the Gods, really, really!  I would have loved to add more to my array of 2011 holiday sweets, but I just didn’t want to get overwhelmed and get sick again.

Food for the Gods

This is one very popular Christmas bakery item with Filipinos.   A date and nut bar with lots of extras — molasses or honey (I add both), coarsely chopped walnuts, chopped pitted dates, and a nice booze addition of brandy (I didn’t happen to have one so I use Brugal’s Anejo rum).   The secret to making this moist and chewy:  Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 300 F for 30 to 45 minutes or until completely baked.  Back home, they wrap the bars first in gold-colored aluminum foil and then in cellophane.  Would be lots to do, so I just opted to wrap in cellophane.  Trimmed edges to fit in the cellophane squares…and glad to enjoy them later, oh sooo chewy…what a treat!

Brownie Butter Squares or Bites

Baked butter cookie dough for the first layer and then spread “boxed brownie” batter on top of slightly cooled butter cookie layer and baked again.  You can use your favorite butter cookie recipe and just keep an eye on baking time so as not to burn the cookie layers.   To cut them in squares, use a chef’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry before cutting.

Coconut Macaroons

This is a Filipino-style coconut macaroons, not the French macarons or the American macaroons using only eggwhites.  Loaded with extras:  butter, sweetened condensed milk and grated cheddar cheese.  Small muffin pans lined with paper cups (available online from craft stores) are used.   For a nice finish, you may also drizzle chocolate glaze on top.  I sometimes flavor my macaroons with pandan.

Mango Bars

This is one of my favorite Christmas treats.  Philippine dried mangoes and peanuts are sprinkled all over the baked shortbread crust before spreading the delicious brown sugar topping.   Use an electric knife to cut these into squares and then wrap in cellophane.

Mamon Tostado (Toasted Sponge Cake)

This is really biscotti Philippine-style, it is twice-baked…but instead of baking a butter cake, a sponge cake with melted butter added is baked.   I use the Goldilock’s clone mamon recipe that you can obtain online.   For the orange and lemon extracts, only use Nielsen Massey flavoring extracts that you can buy from King Arthur Flour Company (from time to time, the company announces free shipping, so keep an eye on it.  I love free shipping!).

Ube Crinkles

If you don’t care much about ube (purple yam), then bake instead chocolate crinkles.   Recipe formulation is pretty simple, just like a cookie dough that you chill first for about half an hour and then form into balls using a small ice cream scooper.  Careful not to overbake these yummy cookies.   A pack of Ube powder (available from Oriental stores) is added to the crinkles dough for that authentic Ube flavor.   Ube color is difficult to achieve without adding more violet food color (either powder or liquid) .

And these Christmas goodies are traveling as I post this to — Sugarland (Texas), Las Vegas (Nevada) and San Francisco (Calif).   Status: Shipped (my job’s done!).

And  lastly, one simple tip to remember —  Make sure cookies are cooled completely before wrapping or packaging them.

No Fruitcakes mentioned — really!


At Josh’ Christening Party, Guests Enjoyed My Sweet Table Offerings

Welcome to the Christian World, JOSH!

Josh seemed to understand it is his party….so he really displayed his good behavior the entire 4 hours at Biaggio’s.  Guests one by one arrived and settled in.   It took a while for food to be served, so all the kids enjoyed the usual “runnings” and “posing for Mommy’s camera”.  And I took some snapshots of my own, I just thought the kids were all a delight.

The guests helped themselves to my sweet table offerings:  COCONUT MACAROONS, PICHI-PICHI, BUTTERED PUTO-PANDAN AND CUCHINTA.   Well, I guess, it’s ok to have desserts first when you are that hungry!

The party favorite “LECHON (roast whole pig) was arranged along with my sweets….and appeared to be the centerpiece.

and the wonderful fondant christening cake was also displayed, yummm…with the cupcakes.   When cut later, it was red velvet cake.

And a nice hello from the Godparents…

Again welcome to the Christian World…JOSH.  Congratulations to proud parents Jay and Rosaelma Villafranca.

All Yule photos and goodie giveaways

My Yuletide season is always full of sweet “palatable” memories. Not always fun, sometimes stressful enough, but all in all, nothing can compare to making foods, mostly “native treats or kakanins” that are sure to satisfy your diners or blow your recipients (customers) away. This year’s baking creations (without preservatives or extenders or “daya”) were simply the best that I thought at one point I caught Santa giving me a “wink”. No leftovers, and I really cleaned up my kitchen pantry; my stockpile of flour, sugar, nuts, etc. were at its lowest I need a trip to Sam’s club to get my pantry in “good shape” again.


My bibingka royale gets a nice “makeover” courtesy of my handy blow torch; there was no need to broil and sometimes end up burning top of my bibingka.

The Chicken Empanadas were enjoying a “blistering” fry in canola oil, making them a crunchy treat all night long.  Crust and filling all done from scratch.

I made this tall Chocolate-Mango Chiffon Cake for a special Christmas dinner with my Glenn’s family.  The chocolate swirls in the cake slices were awesome.  And I just love airy, light and not-too-sweet chiffon cakes. (Recipe in separate post.)

There will always be ham involved and my sister-in-law always enjoy the pineapple-flavorings.   Buy an inexpensive spiral-cut cooked ham and in hours, transform it into a “mouth-watering” beauty.  Just 2 main ingredients: crushed pineapple with the juice and brown sugar.  Note:  A must-have tool for this ham — meat thermometer.  Here’s a photo of the ham before baking.

And why not bake some hawaiian sweet rolls (also with pineapple flavoring) to pair with tender slices of ham, yumm!  Recipe included in my cookbook, leave me a comment if you’d like to own one or 2.  Special pricing for my wonderful readers, indeed.

‘Nang Isabel Jardeleza requests for Christmas get-together party:  sapin-sapin (layered steamed rice cake), sans rival (crunchy meringue layers with buttercream).  And the girls went gaga after bites of my sans rival (they requested for one more for the NY party, now what can I say!)

And then an order for my “better-than-storebought” siopao or steamed pork buns.  Someone in Virginia is enjoying these “you-can-eat-the-dough” siopao.  And the folks in Virginia want cuchinta too next time around.

And more orders for my cuchinta (steamed rice cake rounds), coconut macaroons, bibingka royale and chicken empanadas.

Each year at the studio, we celebrate New Year with a pink brunch, and always my “centerpiece” cake is nicely dressed in pink.  It’s a mango chiffon cake.

And bites after bites of my “cute” meringue swirls, so festive, so tempting, so yummy.  (Recipe in separate post.)

and the surprise of ’em all, Stained Glass No-bake Cheesecake emerged the winner.  No leftovers whatsoever.  Recipe requests followed, everybody wants to make ’em, devour ’em (can’t blame ’em, really).  Recipe will be in a separate post.

All yumm…did I make you all hungry?