Go-To Filipino Treats to Enjoy this Summer
Summer is upon us: blazing heat, humid air, and the roasting breeze from the fan. One might cool down with their air-conditioning on 24/7, or (if you’re like me) simply succumb to the heat exhaustion and embrace dormancy. Everyday under this heat, we are all looking for ways to chill out.
Other than hot coffee under the summer heat, though, there are other more cooling refreshments that Filipinos like to enjoy under the toasty Philippine environment.
An all-time favorite, our beloved Halo-halo (literally mix-mix in English), is a tasty shaved ice dessert usually consisting of various toppings, to the delight and preference of each person. The main ingredients include ube (jam and/or ice cream), beans, evaporated milk, sugar, sweetened banana, nata de coco, and leche flan (if you ordered the special). Variations could include pinipig, or toasted glutinous rice flakes, cornflakes, macapuno, or other local specialties. A variation, with just corn kernels and cornflakes is called the mais con hielo. Generally, though, the colorful treat can be found in most, if not all, Filipino restaurants so your next halo-halo might just be around the corner!
Halo-halo’s distant cousin, Guinomis, is a coconut milk-based dessert. The word’s origin, Hiligaynon, suggests a history of the dessert from the Western Visayas Region. It has less ingredients compared to the Halo-halo. The dessert mainly comprises shaved ice, coconut milk, sugar (to taste), sago (or tapioca pearls), gulaman (plant-based gelatin squares), and pinipig. Additionally, it’s one of the few Filipino desserts that are naturally vegan-friendly!
Local Ice Cream
The variety of produce, and endless creativity, can be observed in the diverse local ice cream flavors in the Philippines. Aside from the sorbetes man’s roaming ice cream, regions have their own quirky ice cream flavors that would make you go “huh” in disbelief or in amazement. In Davao City, Crocodile Ice Cream is a delight inside their Crocodile Park, made with crocodile eggs. In Nueva Ecija, Central Luzon State University students created an award-winning Tilapia Ice Cream. In Metro Manila, Sebastian’s Ice Cream in Podium offers a few bizarre but big brain ice cream flavors such as: green mango and bagoong (with actual bagoong topping), champorado and dilis (with toasted sugar-coated dilis as topping), mangga’t suman, mango sansrival, and other classic flavors.
Ice Scramble (Iskrambol)
Bright pink, with powdered milk and other colorful toppings; the ice scramble is a nostalgic treat often found right outside elementary schools in the Philippines. The dessert greatly appeals to children (and children-at-heart) due to its bright and flashy rainbow hues. It is often served in a plastic cup, where one can appreciate the lively pink or purple shaved ice base, powdered milk layers, and multicolored mini marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, and chocolate syrup. A treat for both the eyes and the sweet tooth.
Another elementary school recess classic is ice candy, packed in tiny plastic bags made for ice. Ice candy is the Filipino version of popsicles. The iced dessert packs unlimited potential and variety in flavors, too. Juices, fruit salads, drink mixes, and even certain cocktails are made into ice candy!
The dessert-drink is composed of watered down arnibal, sago, gulaman, and ice. Simple, easy, and refreshing! Arnibal is a sugar syrup commonly used in taho and leche flan; sago’t gulaman’s liquid is essentially water with sugar. Flavorings for the arnibal could switch from pandan, banana syrup, or whatever is available and preferred by the locale. Flavored syrup with smooth jelly texture makes for a sweet and fun drink to finish your inasal with.
These are only a popular few of the numerous treats beloved by the sweet-toothed Philippines. Take a culture trip (and a foodie trip!) and try these out at your local spots, safe and socially-distanced. Which of these go-to Filipino summer treats is your favorite?