It's rare for people who aren't Filipino to have tried Filipino desserts and food. Well, it's time for a change, meaning it's time for the whole world to be exposed to the deliciousness of Filipino culture.

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Denise Uy

The Philippines is a chain of islands located in the Pacific Ocean. Since there are so many islands that are separated from each other, there is not a homogenous Filipino culture. Rather, there are hundreds scattered throughout the country. These differences make way for diverse foods made with ingredients unique to one region but not to another. Also, because there are so many cultures, there can be different names for the same food. 

The more food the better, though. Especially if more food means trying something that you are not used to. Trying different foods can be super exciting, especially trying desserts for those with the biggest sweet tooth. From common but delectable street foods to more traditional desserts, checking out these Filipino desserts will have you dying to try them. 

1. Halo-halo

The first words that may pop into your mind are the lyrics to Beyonce's infamous song, but this classic treat is pronounced as "hah-loh hah-loh." Halo-halo is a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk, with many added ingredients that can vary. The most common ingredients are sweetened beans, gelatins, and various sweet fruits such as plantains, jackfruit, and lychee. The name directly translates as "mix-mix" in English.

There are many different versions but I find the best ones to have ube ice cream on the top. Ube is yet another famous Filipino delicacy and is made from purple yam. Halo-halo is usually served in a cup or a bowl. Just grab a spoon and enjoy the refreshing deliciousness. 

2. Puto 

No, this isn't referring to the Spanish word, though pronounced the same way (poo-toh). I don't think I've ever been to a Filipino party or gathering that did not have puto. Puto is a steamed rice cake. It is usually served as snacks before you start eating the main dishes at a party, but it can also make a great dessert for after the meal. It looks like a small muffin so it is a very popular food to bring for parties or potlucks.  

A lot of the time, it is served with a small square slice of cheese on the top. It is the perfect balance of a sweet cake with a little hint of saltiness. Sometimes there can be flavored puto as well, with the most popular being ube (purple yam) or buko pandan (coconut and screwpine leaves). It will have you constantly coming back to the dessert table every five minutes.

3. Turon

Pronounced "too-ron," this is the perfect midday snack. Turon is plantain wrapped in a rice wrapper and fried to perfection. I remember when I'd come home and immediately smell the sweet plantain and crispy outside wrapper. These can fill you up just enough to eat alone or eat after a meal like any other dessert. 

To prepare it, a ripe and sweet plantain is cut in half vertically and down the middle of the narrow side. It is then dipped in sugar and placed in a thin rice wrapper where it is skillfully wrapped. Then it's deep-fried and can be served à la mode, with Nutella, or in other sweetly delicious ways.

4. Ginataan

Ever wanted something warm to eat after your meal on a cold day? Sure, you can eat soup but that doesn't make a good dessert. Well, ginataan (pronounced "gi-nah-tah-ahn") is almost like a soup but for dessert. The main ingredient is gatâ, or coconut milk. There are many ingredients that can be used that will make the ginataan classified as a certain type, but my favorite is ginataan bilo-bilo.

Many of the versions of this dessert contain various different ingredients but a majority do contain small tapioca pearls, jackfruits strips, and other types of fruits. A popular version is one I mentioned earlier, ginataan bilo-bilo. This version is famous for its glutinous or sticky rice balls.

5. Brazo de Mercedes

The name may sound Spanish but Brazo de Mercedes a real and authentic Filipino dessert. If you have a really sweet tooth like me, this may just be the dessert for you. It's a long and narrow cake, hence the word "brazo" in the name which in both Spanish and Tagalog mean "arm." This cake is no ordinary cake. The outside is a white, fluffy blanket that melts like a marshmallow in your mouth. Once you get past the outer layer, you are met with a sweet yellow custard heavenly enough to have your eyes rolling behind your head. 

This dessert is very minimalistic in terms of ingredients, using only eggs, sugar, cream of tartar, condensed milk, and vanilla. Preparing it can be a little time consuming since you have to separate the egg white and egg yolk from enough eggs. The hard work is worth it because you'll be more than rewarded with taste.

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Ashley Steinberg

There are so many more desserts out there waiting for you to taste, but if I listed all of them, this article would never end. So I urge you to try out many different foods from different cultures, especially these rich and delicious Filipino ones. The beauty of Filipino desserts is that there isn't only one way to make a dish—there are sometimes even hundreds. You never know when you'll find the match made in food heaven, so try exploring outside of the boundaries you are used to.