We’re still on lockdown in our state, so instead of baking a cake for Easter, I made Kalamay Ube for our family’s dessert and merienda snack. It’s still a cake, this time a rice cake, Filipino-style. This is derived from the classic Philippine kakanin recipe that uses fresh purple yams. When ube is in season, there’s nothing like using the original ingredient. But in these times, while on quarantine and with limited grocery supplies, I opted to cook with whatever I had on hand – frozen purple yam, a little rice flour, canned coconut milk and condensed milk.
Classic Philippine kakanins (rice cakes) like these involve stirring continuously during the cooking process. This was the old-fashioned way in most Filipino homes long before ovens were available in every kitchen. An old Kapampangan recipe of kalame ube uses only pure purple yams and like my cousin Susan Agana Sembrano said, takes “four hours of constant stirring”. I took a shortcut though in this recipe I’m sharing, so you won’t have to be by the stove for half a day.
In my American kitchen today, we’re quarantined at home due to the pandemic, and can’t go to the gym. So, consider the constant stirring of the ube mixture on the stove-top as your arm exercise for the day. Or have other family members take turns with you with the stirring. It can be a fun process in the kitchen.
The sweet, almond-like flavor of ube or purple yam combined with the fragrance of coconut milk defines the taste of this sticky rice cake. In no time, you can put together a luscious, and vibrant-colored treat for the Easter table. Or do it any time your family craves the richness of Pinoy kakanins. Be safe out there, folks!
- Large, heavy stockpot: 6 to 8 quarts
- Cake pan - 9 inches in diameter; Or Baking Pan - 8 x 8 inches
For the Latik (Coconut Sprinkles)
- 1 cup coconut cream
For the Kalamay Ube
- 1 package (16 ounces) frozen boiled ube (purple yam) thawed at room temperature, but kept cool; from Asian markets
- 1 cup coconut cream or milk
- 1 cup condensed milk
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Ube Flavoring optional
To make the Latik:
- Make the latik first, so you can use the coconut oil rendered to grease the cake pan later.In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, pour 1 cup coconut cream. Stir the coconut cream continuously. Do not leave it alone or the coconut scorches and burns.In about 10 to 15 minutes of stirring, the cream starts to turn light brown till it solidifies into brown sprinkles or the latik. Turn off the heat. You should have about 1/2 cup of latik from this amount. Drain the coconut oil from the latik. Set the oil aside. Transfer the latik to a small bowl and set aside.Use 1-2 tablespoons of the rendered coconut oil to grease the cake pan. Set the pan aside.
To make the Kalamay Ube:
- In a large, heavy stockpot (about 6 to 8 quarts), combine the ube, coconut cream or milk, and condensed milk. Mix well.Add the rice flour and the sugar. Pour the ube flavoring if desired. Blend ingredients well till smooth.Over medium heat, stir and cook the ube mixture. Stir continuously for 10 to 15 minutes till you notice the liquid starting to thicken. Lower heat to a low simmer. Continue stirring for about 35 to 40 minutes more till the mixture feels heavy and coats the spoon. If it has the thick consistency of mashed potatoes at this point,the Kalamay Ube is done
- Transfer the Kalamay Ube on the pre-greased cake pan. Level off the mixture with a spatula.Sprinkle the Latik (coconut sprinkles) all over the top. Serve warm or chilled.
- Filipino Kakanins like this Kalamay Ube should be covered and refrigerated at all times. If refrigerated, you will notice the oil solidifies on top. Microwave each slice at 10 seconds to warm up. This Kalamay Ube keeps up to 3 days refrigerated.
- The frozen boiled ube (purple yam) should be thawed at room temperature. Do not thaw in the microwave or it gets liquid-like and cannot be used for this recipe.There are folks who are opposed to using artificial flavorings like the McCormick Ube Flavoring I used. Feel free to omit if you are in that group of purists.
Nutrition Notes: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking or baking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Did you love this recipe? I have more Philippine dessert recipes in my popular cookbook How to Cook Philippine Desserts, Cakes and Snacks.
If you need Filipino Instant Pot recipes, find more in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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