In the Philippines, the coconut tree is considered to be the “Tree of Life” as it is believed that there is an endless list of products and by-products that can be derived from this fruit.
The coconut's meat, oil, leaves, fruit, water, husk, pith, “inflouresence,” shell, trunk and roots can all be used to create various products.
As it is a tropical country, it has an abundance of coconut trees. Out of the 79 provinces, 68 are coconut areas. There are about 12 million hectares of farmland in the country of which 3.1 million are lush areas with coconut trees.
According to statistics, about 25 million Filipinos are directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut industry which is a major dollar earner that provides livelihood to at least one-third of the country's population.
Therefore, coconut is one of the most popular ingredients in cooking and baking. A lot of Filipino recipes include coconut milk which we call, “gata”. We like mixing this with main course dishes as well as our desserts.
The “Maja Blanca” (Spanish for “white delicacy”) is one of the best desserts that has coconut milk in it. This dish is also known as “coconut pudding”.
The maja blanca is also considered to be the Filipinos' favorite desserts for special occasions like fiestas and the holidays. Many people prefer to prepare this during potluck Christmas parties because it is very simple to make.
It is very important to note that the coconut milk has to be given enough time to cook. The same must be done with the corn to allow its flavor to be released thoroughly.
The mixture of ingredients must be mixed properly until the texture becomes as smooth as possible.
Many of our Canadian friends have tasted the “Cassava Cake” at one time or another, during our weekend parties or celebrations. Coconut milk is one of the main ingredients of this delicacy.
The “cassava” is also known as a “manioc root” or “tapioca” or in Filipino, “kamoteng kahoy”. It is a woody shrub of the “spurge” family that has an edible, starchy tuberous root which is a major source of carbohydrates.
It is an important staple food in developing countries such as South and Central Africa, India and Southeast Asia.
Although cassava is not grown in Canada, it is known to be the source of “tapioca”.
The Maja Blanca and Cassava Cake are Filipino favourites besides the “Lecha Flan” (Custard Flan) and the ever-popular rice cakes. They are both delicious and easy to prepare.
INGREDIENTS OF MAJA BLANCA:
4 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
14 ounces condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
15 ounces whole sweet kernel corn
5 tbsp. toasted grated coconut
Pour the coconut milk in a cooking pot and bring to a boil.
Add the sugar, condensed milk, and whole sweet kernel corn then stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Simmer for 8 minutes
Combine the fresh milk and cornstarch then whisk until the cornstarch is diluted.
Pour the fresh milk and cornstarch mixture in the cooking pot and stir thoroughly.
Allow to cook while stirring until the mixture reaches your desired thickness.
Pour the mixture in a serving tray then arrange and flatten the top using a flat tool such as a wooden spatula.
Allow to cool down then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Garnish with toasted grated coconut.
INGREDIENTS FOR CASSAVA CAKE:
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp sugar
½ cup condensed milk
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. cheese, grated
1 piece raw egg
Combine the grated cassava, butter, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cheese, sugar, and eggs in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Add the coconut milk in the mixing bowl where the mixed ingredients are and mix it again.
Grease the baking tray then pour-in the batter (ingredients that has just been mixed).
Pre-heat oven for 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes then put-in the baking tray with batter and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile prepare the batter by combining the sugar and flour and put-in the heated saucepan.
Pour-in the condensed milk then mix thouroughly.
Add the cheese while stirring constantly.
Pour the coconut milk and stir constantly for 10 minutes.
Pour the topping over the Cassava Cake (baked batter) and spread evenly.
Separate the yolk from the egg white of the remaining egg (we’ll be needing the egg white).
Glaze the topping with the egg white (you may use a basting brush for this step).
Broil the Cassava cake until colour turns light brown.
Garnish with grated cheese and serve.