I remember a couple of Christmas and New Year days in my childhood, and those were spent visiting houses of other grandparents, aunts and uncles and even friends of my mother’s. And every single house I had gone to accompanied by my mother or aunt or grandmother, I was always handed a platito (saucer) with a slice ofHalayang Ube (purple yam fudge). Now, proper etiquette for visitors here is to always welcome and be gracious to anything the hostess offers or serves you, I never had a problem following this particular rule of etiquette, most specially if it is food that is generously shared to me.
By tasting about 3 or 4 versions of Halayang Ube from each house I visited at the end of the festive day, I somehow, and although a bit embarrassed to admit, haven’t had the resolve (even at an early age) NOT to be a silent judge and NOT knit-pick and compare (like a Top Chef judge) each purple yam fudge I tasted.
One can tell which home spent hours cooking and stirring their purple yam fudge and which did not, and even who was patient and meticulous enough to not let any chocolate chip-size morsel of boiled purple yam get mixed up with the finely grated mound, and who was not that particular in making their halaya close to lump-free perfection in texture.
There are, I think, close to a dozen arguments on how to make the best Halayang Ube throughout this country. But all I wish to divulge is how I make mine.
- You have to buy the best looking purple yams with the most intense purple colour, which can range from bright lavender to Barney purple to really deep dark purple (almost verging into blackish in colour).
- You can either boil or bake the purple yams, skin still on (this way none of the gorgeous purple colour bleeds out of the root vegetable) until very tender. Finely grate the yams using a fine grater, or for your modern-day convenience, use a food processor- cut the boiled (or baked) and peeled yams into medium dices. Fill the food processor tub half full (for each batch) with the yams and blitz/puree.
- The amount of milk (both condensed milk and evaporated milk) is as much as important as the amount of purple yam is. The creaminess and richness of the milk should compliment and enhance the starchy quality of the purple root veg.
- Use a large non-stick (teflon coated) pan to cook the mixture. I do recommend using a big and sturdy silicone (very heat resistant) spatula to stir the mixture, and also by using a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon, you can conveniently scrape all the sticky mixture away from the base of the pan preventing scorching or burnt bottom.
- And finally, patience is really the key element in making this decadent confection. For the amount of purple yam fudge mixture in this recipe, you have to cook and constantly stir it for 3-3 1/2 hours on a stove top over medium heat or until the fudge when stirred, can be lifted off the pan like a dense dough. The best characteristic of a very good Halayang Ube is that is it chewy and dense and rich and toothsome.
- 2 kilos finely grated purple yams, prepared*
- *(boiled or baked with skin still on until fork tender, then peeled and finely grated or blitzed in a food processor)
- 4 cans condensed milk
- 2 cans evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup melted butter + 2 Tablespoon softened butter (to lightly coat the moulds the purple yam fudge will be poured to be moulded and set)
- 1 teaspoon salt
Prepare moulds- coat the base and sides of dish moulds with softened butter.
– In a large non-stick pan or even teflon coated wok (much suggested and preferred) , combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix until homogenised.
– Place pan over medium heat. From this point, you only have to stand in front of the stove and your pan of purple yam mixture for the next 3- 3 1/2 hours- constantly stirring, making sure the bottom of the mixture doesn’t get scorched and burnt.
– After working the hours stirring the fudge, it becomes chewy and much like a very heavy and dense dough, and you can see that the mixture easily lifts itself off the pan. At this stage, turn off heat.
– Divide purple yam fudge into prepared moulds/dish. Smoothen the surface of the fudge with an offset or regular spatula lightly coated with softened butter (this will make the surface shiny). Cool completely and let it set.
– Slice according to preference.
Makes about 3 kilos
Note : Arms, neck and shoulder massage is recommended… most probably inevitable, afterwards. :)