I made another magical adventure into cupcake land today via the Philippines for a sweet dose ube yumminess. (I’m beginning to notice cupcakes are becoming a re-occuring theme here!)
I know the tinge of purple in the cupcake is a sign of an nontraditional ingredient so I should preface this whole post by saying that Filipinos are pretty creative when it comes to food preparation and I’m not talking in a Food Network-looks pretty-and-yummy sort of a way. I’ve seen ketchup and chopped hot dog meat thrown into spaghetti sauce, macaroni served with white rice, and delicacies that would make the average stomach churn. I can say this because I’ve grown up with this stuff all my life. I’ll try anything once, but I just won’t eat it again if it’s not my thang. There are some dishes that I’ve come to appreciate and some that I just truly won’t put on my plate.
Which brings me to a Filipino staple that I re-visited a couple weeks ago: ube, prounounced OOOH-beah, you’ll have to excuse my American accent. It’s more commonly known as purple yam. In the Philippines you’ll find it a lot in ice cream and pastries, dessert items basically, which always strikes me as odd. Yam is a starch! And as much as I love french fries, you won’t catch me eating potato-flavored ice cream. Perhaps it’s the aesthetic of eating something purple that suckers in everyone.
A couple weeks ago I was at a taste testing event, pairing Filipino food and wine (which in itself is another barrier being broken) where I had the opportunity to taste Manila Machine’s ube cupcake. Like my expectation of most Filipino food, I was ready for something that was “eh, not so bad” but I ended up blurting aloud “oh my gosh, that’s fantastic!” I made a mental note in my head of this sweet treat for an occasion when I’d need to whip up something special.
So here we go, today we celebrated my dad’s birthday!
The big 50-something! It’s been a bit of a sensitive time for him. Just the other day he was showing me some new shirts he bought with my mom. He had to get the kind with a pocket on the chest so he can store his glasses. (This marks a new era now – in the past, when we go out to eat I’m the one who has to read him the menu.) He just couldn’t believe that he finally had to cave in and get the kind with the pockets. It’s okay, he’s still hip in a vintage way. He’ll always be rocking out to his 70s jams.
To usher in this new era, I made the cupcakes for him, luckily enough, one of the guys who runs Manila Machine posted an ube cupcake recipe on his blog a while back.
They turned out pretty yummy and Dad loved them. (Even though he initially thought they tasted like chocolate?) They have a tad of sweetness to them thanks to the macapuno (a variety of coconut) frosting, but it’s not overpowering. I just wish the cupcakes were a deeper shade of purple. The yams, which required grating, steaming and mashing, made more of a pastel shade when combined with the cake mixture and even a couple drops of food coloring wasn’t enough.
The frosting got a little run-y too but I’ve never had much luck whipping up something airy and light. BUT it was still just as good as I remembered it from a couple weeks ago.
(Planning to try out the recipe? Be sure to head over to your nearest Asian market to pick up the purple yams and macapuno. You’re dealing with stuff that’s not at a traditional grocery store!)