Manila’s 10 Best Desserts, 2007: Part 1
6. Ube Cheesecake at The French Corner
If you’ve ever thought that the color purple is no good for food, this dessert will make you change your mind. For good. Made from the vividly-hued tuber that’s anything but lowly, this cheesecake is its perfect partner. Out it comes with its halo of golden spun sugar being hailed in a bliss pool of pandan cream and strawberry slices. And there in the center it sits: ube cheesecake!
Its crust is surprisingly, fresh-from-the-box cornflakes, a most unlikely but willing partner. Conveying none of its characteristic crunch, it’s been crushed to a smooth paste until it takes on almost the same texture as the custard it carries. Expressing surprise at the avant-garde use of this native crop, I marvel at its exquisite smoothness and coo over its delicate flavor. It’s like eating crÃ¨me brulee. A dessert that stands up to deep exploration in mind and on tongue, this dessert is an exceptional tour de force of legendary chef Billy King.
The French Corner
Commerce Avenue corner Filinvest Avenue
Westgate Center, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa City
7. Trio of Frozen Brazos from Karen Young
I’m amazed at how the frozen brazo went from being an innovation on a classical dessert to one that’s teetering on the brink of entering the mainstream. Correct me if I’m wrong but Dimpy Camara of San Lorenzo Village may have been the first home baker to offer this frozen delight to the public late last year. Other home bakers have followed suit and I’ve tried those but I’ve yet to try the original, which is Dimpy’s.
Meantime, one of my favorite home bakers and friend, Karen Young, has come out with yet another twist on the frozen brazo: flavored variations in strawberry and green tea. Imaginative, yes? She also offers the original frozen brazo ”“ graham cracker crust, yema custard filling, mantecado ice cream, and swathes of meringue that she’s whimsically dubbed “Manila Vanilla.” Her Green Tea Frozen Brazo has its separate components steeped in green tea to infuse flavor and color thus, a green tea chiffon cake, green tea yema, green tea ice cream, and meringue. The green tea flavor rings through, its sharpness rounded out by the creaminess of the yema.
The Strawberry Frozen Brazo has a piquant strawberry taste that’s a true-to-the-fruit flavor that perks me up quite nicely. With its profusion of color in brown, yellow, pink, red, and white, it’s indeed a striking dessert. I have my doubts however, as to whether the chocolate cake bottom layer fights or flows with the strawberry, but you be the judge. A caveat: let frozen brazos defrost at room temperature for a few minutes to facilitate slicing. Lesser knives have been known to break and wrists strained while attempting to “saw” through.
Karen’s Kitchen (KEY Specialty Foods)
428 Adalla St. Palm Village, Makati
8. Chocolate Fudge Cake of Gina Lopez
Every time I eat Gina’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, I feel that all is right with the world. A plump and pleasing 8-inch affair, its thick and buttery batter bakes up into a cake with an open crumb that focuses solely on chocolate, its frosting even more so –waves of fudge stroked into almost flouncy curls, an unceasing reverie of butter, cocoa, and sugar stroked with vanilla. Such is its potency for pleasure. Gina makes phenomenal crinkles and carrot cake too, but her chocolate cake is one of those desserts where every bite is an affirmation of how good it is.
Paisley Pastry by Gina J. Lopez
9. Cookie Dough Cheesecake of Chelsea
I have a pressing attraction for cookie dough, raw or cooked. When I make chocolate chip cookies, a large part of the batter goes into my mouth, never even making it onto the baking sheet. Apparently, it runs in the family since Boo likes it too. And don’t get me started on cookie dough ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s or Sebastian’s only, please.
My elation is unparalleled when I discover that Chelsea’s cookie dough cheesecake is as good as it looks. In the past, desserts like these are an insult to both cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies, two stalwarts in the dessert pantheon, so I’m momentarily put-off by the concept. But Chelsea’s take on this very 90’s dessert is the way it’s meant to be.
The custard itself is relatively pristine, its top liberally strewn with cookie dough that bake up into these mini chocolate chip cookies when done. The whole bounty rests on a cookie dough crust speckled with mini chocolate chips. Sweet, crunchy, creamy, smooth, there’s enough going on here that make me feel like I’m getting two desserts in one, and that’s never a bad thing.
Chelsea Market & Café
Bonifacio High Street, Serendra,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
909-7011 / 909-7012
Possessing a shadow of a crust ”“ almost an afterthought, really ”“ it’s the perfect foil to the gently-baked custard. So soft is it that it almost quivers in its lusciousness, brought on by a mixture of whole eggs and egg yolks married with cream cheese and just enough sugar. Long, slow cooking ”“ most probably in a waterbath ”“ ensures a surface that is unblemished, unequalled, umarred. This cheesecake is, in a word, utopia.
Jill Sandique of DÃ¨lize
33 Sunrise Drive, Cubao, Quezon City
721-7022 (ask for Lea, Mimi, or Vangie)
Allow a minimum of 2-3 days for your order(s).