Halo-Halo Cheesecake

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

Hello Everyone! Yes, I am aware that it has only been two days since my last post (I post a new recipe every Wednesday night), but today, the 16th of April 2021 is a very special day because:

AMCARMEN’S KITCHEN TURNS SEVEN!

I know I’ve told this story countless times, every year I think if I’m not mistaken, but this is really more for my new followers and new friends I’ve made in the past year, or even just those who happen to stumble upon this post while searching for recipes or inspiration.

Long before I started Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I was already posting my kitchen adventures on my personal Facebook page when I left for university back in 2011. I started it as a way to document the food that I was eating, you know, being a 19 year old girl who left home with zero experience in cooking. Honestly, the food I was making, super cringe-worthy, but nevertheless, I’m glad I did that because it’s always great to look back and compare yourself to where you are now, especially during times like this. If you want to read more about my journey leading up to when I first started this blog, you can read all about it here: My Kitchen Journey.

Fast forward from 2011 to 2014, I started Amcarmen’s Kitchen exactly seven years ago today, on April 16 of 2014; it was a fine Wednesday afternoon during my fourth year of university. It was the Easter holidays and I had zero willpower to tackle the mountain of assignments I had to complete before the holidays were over. Instead, I decided to explore the world of wordpress, and before I knew it, Amcarmen’s Kitchen (formerly known then as Kitchen Headquarters) was born.

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

To celebrate today’s occasion, as per tradition on my blog every year, I’ve baked a cheesecake inspired by a very popular dessert here in the Philippines known as Halo-Halo. The word, directly translated actually means ‘mix-mix’ in English, and is essentially a mixture of, but not limited to, crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including, ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, fruit slices, flan, and topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Though popular all year round, it’s most especially enjoyed during the hot summer days.

I came across the idea of translating this dessert into a cheesecake about a year and a half ago during a work event. A few colleagues of mine and myself took a short break from event rehearsals and stumbled upon a coffee and cakes corner in the lobby of the hotel we were at. While they were ordering coffee, I spotted a Halo-Halo Cheesecake on their cake shelf and was immediately wowed by such an ingenious idea! I unfortunately did not order a slice at that time, only because I was contemplating on whether I should, or shouldn’t (it was a bit pricey think), but when I finally made the decision to order a slice, on a different day, the day of the actual event, they didn’t have any left, or didn’t make a batch that day. So as Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s anniversary drew near, I knew that that was the cake that I was going to make for this special occasion!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

For the cheesecake mixture

  • 675g (3 packs) cream cheese, softened
  • 250ml all purpose cream, at room temperature
  • 3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp ube jam
  • 1 tsp ube extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumb base

  • 200g Lotus Biscoff biscuits, crushed
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the toppings

  • Fresh coconut meat strips
  • Leche flan
  • Nata de coco, red and green
  • Pinipig, lightly toasted
  • Sweetened red beans
  • Sweetened saba bananas
  • Sweetened white beans

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 130C (250F or gas mark 1).
  2. Prepare your spring-form pan (about 8” in diameter) and line the bottom and inside with parchment paper, and the outer with aluminium foil. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with a touch of unsalted butter.
  3. Crumb Base: Add the crushed Lotus Biscoff biscuits, salt, and melted butter together in a small mixing bowl. Mix together until well combined.
  4. Press the crumb into the base of your prepared spring-form pan. Set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set while you prepare your cheesecake mixture.
  5. Cheesecake Mixture: Using an electric mixer fitted with a beater attachment, beat, on medium speed, the cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth.
  6. With the mixer running, add in the eggs, all purpose cream, and vanilla extract. Mix for a further 2 minutes.
  7. Separate one third of the mixture into another mixing bowl. Add the ube jam and ube extract to the cheesecake mixture and slowly beat until combined.
  8. Pour the ube cheesecake mixture into the prepared spring-form pan, evenly covering the biscuit base. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until just set.
  9. Once set, remove from the oven and then pour the remaining cheesecake mixture into the spring-form pan. Continue to bake in the oven for another 45 – 50 minutes, or until set.
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool down completely in its pan before placing it into the refrigerator overnight.
  11. Assemble: Decorate as you wish and serve chilled. Enjoy!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

As always, before I end tonight’s post, I just want to say a special thank you to my Mom. She was the one who patiently taught me how to cook my favourite dishes when I was growing up. She was my #1 supporter. I lost her in September 2019 due to a fatal stroke which was caused by a sudden rupture of a vein in her brain, but before all that she had underlying illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease. One of the main reasons why I drastically cut out meat such as beef and pork from my diet and started eating healthier (as reflected in my blog for the past 2 years). Thank you Mama for passing down your knowledge and love for food on to me. I know you’re proudly watching from above. I love you.

Lastly, next to my Mom is of course, my very supportive boyfriend. Ever since the day we met, you’ve been proudly sharing my recipes for your family and friends to see. And for that, thank you for your continuous encouragement and for motivating me to continue doing what I love to do! I love you.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I have another special post to share with you all!

Halo-Halo Cheesecake

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Hello Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post – but if you are a regular reader, you would’ve picked up from my last post that I’d be taking a short break. It’s not because I needed some time to recover from my mental exhaustion (because let’s face it, I’m still always mentally drained by the end of a long day), but more for the theme for this month’s recipes. From today onwards, you will be expecting a recipe every single day leading up to Christmas – you read that right! I will be sharing with you Festive Filipino Dishes that can be found on the tables of a Filipino family during Noche Buena, some of the recipes that I will be sharing have been influenced by Spanish cuisine. So let’s kick off Day 01 of 12 days to Christmas with a sweet (or savoury?) one: Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad.

First off, for those of you who don’t know, Noche Buena is the Spanish word for the night of Christmas Eve. In Latin American cultures, including Spain and the Philippines, Noche Buena is an annual traditional family feast. The traditional dinner is celebrated at midnight after attending the late evening Mass known as Misa de Gallo. In the Philippines, a whole roasted pig known as lechón, is the centre of all dishes during the feast. It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve. However, a whole roasted pig isn’t always served in other cultures. For example, in Peru, a large juicy turkey is the star for Noche Buena while in Venezuela, hallacas are quite popular. Actually, I think I may have explained what Noche Buena is in a post last Christmas? I’m not sure. Oh well!

Tonight’s dish is one of the many that can be found on the table during Noche Buena, but it doesn’t stop there. This dish is also typically served during Filipino fiestas and also during family outings and picnics. It is actually a very simple dish that doesn’t require a lot of cooking and complicated steps. The main “cooking” is basically cooking the macaroni until tender, and the chicken to be boiled and shredded. When those core ingredients are ready, all you have to do next is toss all the ingredients together and voilà! Chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours and you’ve got a tasty chicken macaroni salad.

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS | SERVES 10-12

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g macaroni*
  • 1 jar (400g) Nata de Coco, drained
  • 300ml dollop cream
  • 250g chicken breast
  • 100ml condensed milk
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • 3/4 cup carrots, minced
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • Ground salt and pepper to taste

*Aside from macaroni, you can use other types of short cut pasta. Here are some examples: Mostaccioli, Penne, Rigatoni, Cellentani, Rotini, Cavatappi, Fideuà, and Maccheroncelli.

METHOD

  1. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the chicken breasts and cook for about 15 minutes, or until cooked all the way through depending on the size of your breasts (yes I meant to say it that way *cheeky grin*). Once done, drain and set aside to completely cool down.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the condensed milk, cream, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Taste and adjust accordingly to your liking. Set aside.
  3. Then, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni and cook according to packet instructions (mine was about 10-11 minutes). Once done, drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl together with the dressing.
  4. When the chicken breasts have completely cooled down, shred the chicken meat and add it into the mixing bowl together with the macaroni.
  5. Add all the other remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly until well combined. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate for about and hour or two before serving.
  6. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

Filipino-style Chicken Macaroni Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

Fresh Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad

 

Hello Everyone! Today’s post is a special one as this is my 100th recipe on the blog! I wanted to make something special, for my 100th recipe post, but I wasn’t in the mood to bake a cake for it because I baked one just last week, and I will be baking one this coming Thursday ready for my Mom’s birthday on Friday!

Fresh Fruit Salad

Anyway, today’s recipe is a classic dish that you will find on every Filipino’s table during Noche Buena (the eve of Christmas) and/or Media Noche (New Year’s eve) feasting celebrations. ‘Fruit Salad’ is a general term referring to a dish that is typically composed of an assortment of fruits, fresh or canned. The Filipino version of the fruit salad consists of these fruits, condensed milk, and table cream, making the dish a rich and sweet dessert. I personally don’t like the use of canned fruits just because of the amount of preservatives in them. Anyway, there are plenty of fresh fruits that can be bought at the local markets – and Philippine mangoes are in season right now so why substitute that for canned fruit cocktail?! However, buying a can of fruit cocktail is definitely cheaper for the average Filipino.

Here’s what you’d get if you use canned fruit cocktail to make your fruit salad; not as vibrant as the one above right? Also, by using fresh fruits, you get to play around not only with the type of fruit but with the many colours as well, for example vibrant green kiwis or bright orange mandarins/papayas? Take your pick! Just don’t forget to include bright yellow mangoes and definitely those luscious red dragonfruits.

Fruit Salad

Now, I’ve had a look at a few recipes online and none that I have come across add cheese in their fruit salads. From what I know, or I guess what my mom has told me is that, since this would normally be a dish served during Christmas and New Year’s time, a fruit salad would not be complete without the addition of pieces of queso de bola. Queso de Bola (translated: “ball of cheese”) is just Edam cheese, traditionally sold in spheres with a pale yellow interior and a coat of red paraffin wax.

Other than fruits, fresh or canned, and cheese, palm seeds and nata de coco can also be added. I love nata de coco; I’d always fish these out from the serving bowl! Nata de Coco, for those of you who don’t know, is produced by the fermentation of coconut water. It is translucent and has a jelly-like and chewy texture.

Fresh Fruit Salad Ingredients

PREP TIME 25 MINS | COOKING TIME | SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 young coconuts, flesh removed and shredded*
  • 1 can (380ml)  Nestlé cream
  • 1 can (570g) palm seeds, with syrup
  • 1 jar (340g) nata de coco, drained
  • 1 red dragonfruit, cut into chunks
  • 1 green apple, cut into chunks
  • 1 red apple, cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe Philippine mango, cut into chunks**
  • 1/2 block (125g) cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1/2 pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large pomegranate, peeled and deseeded
  • 3 tbsp condensed milk
  • Handful of small black and red grapes

*The best thing about using fresh young coconut is that you get to have a nice tall glass of fresh coconut juice! The best thing in the world especially if you’re living right on the equator and experiencing high 30s all year round!

**You can use any other kinds of mango i.e. Kensington Pride mangoes, but honestly, Philippine mangoes are simply the best!

METHOD

  1. Combine all the fruits (except the dragonfruit), cheese, palm seeds with syrup, and nata de coco in a large serving bowl. If you add the dragonfruit in now and mix everything together, its colour will bleed into the cream and make everything pink!
  2. Add the condensed milk and cream and mix well, being careful though so that the fruits still remain intact and do not get crushed when mixing. Once everything is mixed, top with the dragonfruit chunks.
  3. Chill in the fridge/freezer for at least three hours.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com