Thursday, July 5, 2012

Top 18 Pinoy Pastries & Desserts

By Sigrid Salucop 

Filipino pastries may be simple but they sure are tasty. While many Filipinos crave for western pastries and cakes, there are those times when you just want a simple, gluten-free dessert i.e. puto or kutsinta or even both! Gluten-free or not, here are the best pinoy pastries and desserts that you can easily make.

Leche Flan

This is what one usually feels when
one eats a flan - <3 (heart/love)
The Flan is a dieter’s worst nightmare. It’s smooth, creamy and sugary goodness is just something one can’t resist. Although the name is very Spanish and even if it can be traced both to Spain and France –the origin of those uber yummy crème brulee and crème caramel, we have made this recipe our own. This dessert is usually served during special occasions. Oh yes…there’s definitely nothing leche about this flan.


Want cake but don’t want anything that’s too heavy? Get a puto. Also known as rice muffins, this recipe is also available in other Asian countries but the Philippine version is much sweeter –probably because Filipinos love sweets more than their neighbors. 

Puto Calasiao is deemed as the best authentic Philippine puto.

However, if you are in a Spanish-speaking country and you happen to cook some puto, better not say, “Have some puto, Puto!” 

Puto is usually accompanied by shredded coconut or topped with butter or cheese. The Tagalog however eat puto with dinuguan which is yum for many and disgusting for some –all about taste really.

Puto has a lot of versions but one of the loveliest is the Puto Pao. If you want dry puto, you can have the Castilian Puto Seco.


Kutsinta for your sinisinta may not be a very good catchphrase for this Philippine pastry but it still is as yummy as other pastries around. This steamed, brown rice cake has an interesting story to tell though. 

Back in the year 1942, a woman by the name of Cita was hankering for freshly cooked rice. Her boyfriend Kulas, a rice farmer, decided to cook some for her but instead of adding a bit of salt to taste, he put in brown sugar and even put in too much water. 

With so many things to do at the farm, Kulas left the pot on the stove for too long, not even realizing the mistake he has made. When he came back, he found that he has made a sweet, pasty rice cake. He found it rather appetizing and decided to bring it to Cita. Cita of course loved the finished product and gave some to the people in their barrio. They named the pastry after themselves. 


This rice pudding is definitely Filipino but the recipe itself has a striking resemblance to bebinca, a pudding originating from Goa. 

The pudding from Goa however does not have rice in it but it has coconut milk much like the traditional bibingka in the Philippines. 

According to several historians, the word “bi” is Chinese for rice, no one knows where the other letters come from (yes they come from the alphabet you smart ass!) and what they mean though. 

Whatever bibingka’s history, let’s crank up the volume of the stereo and listen to Sharon Cuneta’s Maging Sino Ka Man while eating this Philippine rice pudding.

Ube Halaya

Many find purple yam odd because it’s err… purple. Although it is a good dessert in itself i.e. boiled and dipped in sugar, it becomes a lot better when it is made into a pan of creamy Ube Halaya. 


Made from either rice flour or rice soaked overnight, this Philippine pastry traces its origins to the northern part of the country. Sapin-Sapin is more like a stickier and rather creamy version of the kutsinta.

Maja Blanca

This coconut pudding is a Spanish dessert based on manjar blanco. Although this white delicacy can be served plain, many Filipinos add corn kernels to it making the usual maja blanca into maja blanca con maiz.

If you are tired of the usual maja blanca, adding squash is also a great idea.


This Philippine dessert made from sugar, cassava, and coconut with a hint of pandan is basically a soft puto. It is a favorite dessert from the province of Quezon. It is however also sold in other Philippine provinces. 


Simple yet delectable, polvoron is a powdery Philippine dessert based on Spanish shortbread cookies. Polvoron mixed with ground nuts is also used as the main ingredient in another Philippine delicacy –Turones de Mani. 

There are now shops that sell Polvoron cupcakes in an effort to reinvent this very simple dessert. 


Formerly a mutant of the coconut tree, the Philippine Coconut Authority successfully developed trees that yield 80% macapuno fruits making the macapuno another puno –yay to that yeah? Macapuno looks like the usual coconut but inside, it is filled with a yummy jelly. 

Due to its economic value, the Philippine government encourages farmers to grow more of these trees. Now let’s move to the dessert. Usually paired with ube or spread on top of a pan of crème caramel, the shredded macapuno we see is a preserved version of the fruit. It is full of sugary goodness and of course the unmistakable…err… macapuno flavor.  It is also made into candies like the ones in the photo.

Brazo de Mercedes

Brazo de Mercedes is a light and very delicate cake roll. Although the name is Spanish sounding, this jelly roll is more popularly known in the west as the Swiss roll. 

However, one has to note that the Philippine version is a lot lighter since no flour is used.


Described by many a Filipino children as the hot version of the uber popular halo-halo, Ginataan is served during the rainy season or for Filipinos living abroad, during wintertime. 

This Philippine dessert is known by many names, it is referred to as the alpahor in Chavacano, ginat-taan in Ilocano and tinunuan in Cebuano. It is also called bilo-bilo in some parts of the country. Whatever it’s called though, this dessert cooked in coconut milk is an all-time favorite among Filipinos.

No one is sure where the Ginataan originated from though but let's just keep eating it and hope that the answer will materialize at one point.


Love chocolate? If you need carbs and you want chocolate with it, champorado is your best bet. Usually served for breakfast, this Philippine porridge can still be served for dessert or as one meal for someone craving for something sweet. Champorado is of Mexican origin but the original doesn’t have rice in it.


Made from sticky rice, Palitaw is another version of the Philippine rice cake. It is however usually served with sesame seeds. In some versions, the palitaw is topped with grated coconut. You can put both sesame seeds and grated coconut though like the one in the photo.


Most Filipinos would associate Bacolod City with the piyaya and the inasal but there is this one wonderful recipe from this beautiful city that is rather mouthwatering. It is called Napoleones and yes, according to some historians, the recipe probably came from Naples. Layered with custard cream and topped with white sugar, this puff pastry is to die for.


Bitsu-Bitsu and its twisted version the pilipit can be safely called as the Philippine version of a doughnut. It is fluffier than a churro, softer than a pretzel, and usually served sprinkled with granulated sugar –the result – Y. U. M. YUM!

Buko Pie

“Buko Pie, Buko Pie kayo diyan! Bagong luto!” Sure you always hear this inside busses coming from the southern part of Luzon. In fact, Filipinos are so used to it that many fail to realize how tasty this dessert is.


Remember the alpahor of the Chavacanos? Well this Ilocano recipe is nothing like it. The alpahor is ginataan but the Alpajo is a soft candy made from coconut, milk, and sugar. It's not sold anywhere though but some homes in the north still make them. My grandmother makes them every Christmas -they are oh so tasty!


This dessert was described by a friend as something that tastes like dirt and ash but tasty -yes, tasty. 

Espasol is made from rice flour and coconut milk. It is dusted with toasted rice flour once it is shaped into the cylindrical shape Filipinos are so familiar with. 

Other Pinoy desserts that are also rather tasty include suman latik, tupig, and calamay.

Photos via
Dindin Lagdameo


  1. I don't know which of these looks tastiest. I'll have try them all.