Etymology and History
Ube Halaya is derived from the Indian-originated word Ube (pronounced Oo-beh) meaning purple yam and Halaya (or Jalea, pronounced Hah-Lah-Yah) meaning jelly or mash. Ube jam/mash refers to the sweet, smooth-textured pudding that can be eaten as a snack or with desserts or as a flavoring/ingredient to other desserts like ice cream and cakes. Ube is one of common names of the tuber crop produced by the root vegetable Dioscorea alata or commonly known as White Yam. They grow in tropical areas where there’s a lot of moisture and shade such as parts of Africa, South America, Southeastern places in the United States and in Asia, specifically India, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The crops are single and large, varying in different sizes that are a source of complex carbohydrates. In appearance, Dioscorea alata is fascinated with skin that is brown or black and its flesh is white, cream or purple; it is this appearance that people often confuse the root for taro or cassava. The purple yam (Ube) gets harvested and turned into ube halaya.
Ube Halaya Recipe
Ube halaya has risen in popularity because of its purple color. It is a unique dessert mostly associated with Filipinos internationally and comes in the same league as the Chinese red bean and the green matcha from Japan. Although there are many ways of using ube for delicious recipes, ube halaya preparation and cooking are the most basic.
Preparation: Boiling and grating ube
- Put ube in a pot and fill the pot with water until most of the ube is submerged. Put the lid on and boil the ube for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Uncover the lid and prick it with a fork to see if it is tender. Once it is tender, then it’s ready. Using tongs, transfer the boiled ube into a bowl to cool.
- Peel the skin of the ube with a knife.
- Grate the soft ube using a grater. In grating your ube, you will have better control of the texture--whether its in fine shreds or big chunks that increase texture.
Cooking the Ube Halaya
Step 1: Melt the butter in a deep pan.
Step 2: Pour the evaporated milk and condensed milk then add the grated ube. Stir completely until homogeneous.
Step 3: Mix well over low heat and stir constantly with a spatula.
Step 4: Cook while constantly stirring for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until thick, sticky, chunky and moist.
Step 5: After stirring and making sure that all of the ingredients are combined, turn off the heat let it cool.
Step 6: Grab your serving dish or container and put butter on the bottom. Spread the ube halaya depending on how thin or how thick the layers are to fit the container. Serve warm or put inside the freezer to chill then serve.
Optional: Spread butter on top or sprinkle some cheese for toppings.
Bonus Recipes: Other Ube Inspired Desserts
Ube halaya is just one of many recipes that use ube as the star ingredient. The ube is versatile and can be used for cooking savory and sweet dishes while the halaya can be used as a spread or filling of bread. It can also be used as a flavor of ice cream and other desserts. Its versatility with a hint of sweetness makes this dessert a Filipino classic. Ube halaya goes best with other Philippine flavors such as pandan and coconut. Below are the recipes of two ube-inspired desserts: Ube Crinkle Cookies and Ube Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting.
Ube Crinkle Cookies
Step 1: Break one egg into a large bowl. Add olive oil, sugar and ube flavoring and mix them all together.
Step 2: Add the ube halaya into the mixture and whisk until it forms a thick consistency.
Step 3: Using a strainer, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into ube mixture and stir well together until everything is mixed well together. It should look like a thick sticky dough-like consistency.
Step 4: Transfer everything into a smaller bowl and cover with a cling wrap or just a cloth and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.
Step 5: Once the mixture has been chilled, remove the wrap or cloth then grease your hands with oil and form 1-inch balls using an ice cream scoop. You may also grab even sizes of the dough and form the balls.
Step 6: Roll the balls in powdered sugar and place them on a baking tray. You may want to do it per batch as this mixture can make about 20 if you follow the 1-inch size balls.
Step 7: Bake at 350F/175C for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack or any plate or another tray to let them cool.
Step 8: Serve and enjoy!
Ube Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream Frosting
To make Cupcakes
Step 1: Preheat oven at 325F.
Step 2: Whisk eggs and sugar into a bowl.
Step 3: Add vegetable oil and whisk again until ingredients are mixed well.
Step 4: Add the ube halaya and ube extract and stir or mix together until combined.
Step 5: Sift flour and baking powder into the bowl then mix together using the fold method or using a silicone spatula because it is flat.
Step 6: Add salt. Mix everything until it becomes a solid, thick purple color.
Step 7: Using an ice cream scoop, place batter into individual cupcake cups and bake for 12 minutes then set aside to cool.
To make frosting
Step 1: Add the softened butter in a bowl and mix.
Step 2: As you mix, pour the 4 cups of powdered sugar in batches (1 cup per batch), alternating with the coconut cream (about 2 tbsp per batch). Whisk a little per batch before adding the next and once all ingredients are in, whisk everything until light and fluffy.
Step 3: Put icing in piping bag and frost cooled cupcakes. This frosting can be used for approximately 14 cupcakes.
Step 4: Serve the cupcakes with frosting and enjoy!
Health Benefits of Ube
Aside from being delicious, Ube has numerous health benefits. Eating it on its own or with other ingredients is a good alternative than dishes or desserts that are high in fat and sodium.
- Ube contains antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium and fiber.
- Purple yams foster an environment of probiotic bacteria that are good for your digestive system.
- Ube’s purple color indicative of anthocyanins, is an anti-aging and reverse-cognitive chemical.
- It lowers blood pressure because ube contains ACE inhibitors that help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Ube through its versatility and good flavor has now proven that there are endless possibilities to a dessert despite it being promoted to a specific type of mainstream recipe. The purple yam, as one of the simplest of ingredients, can be taken and used in different ways that are innovative and this is what gives the crop its trademark. I hope these ube halaya recipe ideas would help fill your kitchen with happiness and love.