It is not an overstatement when your Filipino friend or co-worker says halo-halo is the crown jewel of Filipino desserts. Literally “mix-mix,” the quintessential dessert from the Philippines may seem strange concoction of just about every native fruit and random sweets you could throw in the mix. Yet, the secret lies on how each ingredient are carefully selected and layered to create a festive dance of tropical flavors.
Being the classic merienda during summer, halo-halo is an affordable icy treat sold in neighborhood stands and restaurants in the Philippines for around 25 pesos (0.50 USD) to 100 pesos (2 USD). About a decade ago, Filipino multinational fast-food chain Jollibee introduced the Filipino dessert to Americans in LA. Celebrity chef and food critic Anthony Bourdain fell in love with the halo-halo and called it “oddly beautiful.”
Today, halo-halo seems to be getting more popular beyond the periphery of West Coast. In Arizona, dessert shop Scooptopia lists the halo-halo as the bestseller in Phoenix. Thanks to Filipino restaurants making a name in the city, New Yorkers are obsessing over the bizarre dessert that unbelievably confuses your tastebuds with hodgepodge of ingredients that you never imagine could be served in a single bowl.
Yet, you’ll be dumbfounded that halo-halo is absolutely chaotic-good. There are no phony rules for making this Filipino dessert: you can add cereals to the mix and still taste like the classic halo-halo. It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll get. If that’s not your cup of tea, the traditional Filipino recipe for halo-halo might just be the delightful surprise you’re hoping for.
No matter the variations that exist, halo-halo is traditionally a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweetening syrup, and layers of bananas, sweet jackfruit, macapuno (coconut sport), jelly, and sweet beans. Finally, halo-halo is usually topped with rice crispies, ube halaya (mashed purple yam) or ube ice cream, and leche flan (caramel custard).
Ingredients for this halo-halo recipe are exclusively available in My Tindahan. Photo courtesy of Foxy Folksy.