This weekend my mother and father picked me up and we went to the house of Corte Riva winery’s owners: Nieves and Lawrence Cortez. They are the first Filipino winemakers in California — known for their exquisite reds. They are a runaway success; with their very first label nabbing the top 3 spot out of 3,000 wineries. Their story is cause for a separate post.
On the way we had some down time so we ended up in a shopping center in Vallejo where the Bayanihan Center is located. Siena was asleep so my mother took me to some of the local bakeries (Valerio’s, Gold Ribbon) so we could explore some foods I haven’t tried before.
What looked interesting — namely, because they were a fusion of Filipino and American sweets, were the Ube Cupcakes. ($2.49)
(Excuse the background, as I took this picture in my high school classroom 😉
Ube is a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of purple yam (a tuber that has strands of violet) coconut milk and sugar. Many Filipino desserts call upon this lusciously deep, purple ingredient and it is commonly “saved for last” as the best part of the dish. Some dishes that bring ube to life are: ube halaya (a purple pudding-type mixture, see a video on how it’s made here) and our national dessert, halo-halo.
How does ube taste?
Although it’s relative is the sweet potato, to me — ube is more rich and has more of an essence and intensity. Its coloring makes it seem more passionate than the sweet potato, and having coconut milk as a complement evokes a full-bodied texture that lays on the tongue like a calming, creamy weight.
In my childhood I saw ube everywhere — in pan de sal, (literally, bread with salt but a breakfast roll we would eat with butter or margarine) in an ube roll (a spongy, rolled cake) or by itself on a spoon. Now, I know it’s derived from a root. But eating it you would never know because of its lingering candy notes.
These cupcakes were missing some of that weightiness and lush that remind me of ube. The flavor did not speak to me as many dishes with ube do. Instead, this cupcake seemed to have a problem with ratio. I needed more ube! The creamy macapuno (coconut) flavor at the top boded well but would have been more irresistible if it extended deeper into the cake. Instead — it left something to be desired.
I think that this cupcake could improve with a higher density with ube and a good coconut, buttercream frosting. Better! If there was ube halaya in the middle I would have been sold. Nonetheless, a vibrant, purple cupcake was a great idea to help introduce ube to those who may be getting used to the flavor….