Yema Balls (Caramel Coated Custard Candy Balls)

I used to buy these yummy milk candies wrapped in colored plastic wrapper back in my childhood days. There are actually 2 kinds of yema that I know of; the one with peanuts, the more common, it’s made of cooked condensed milk and one made with milk and egg yolks and coated with caramel.

These caramel coated yema balls are harder to find these days,  in fact I haven’t eaten or have even seen one in a long long long time that’s why I decided to make it; no, actually I have yolks in the fridge, I was looking for something new I could do with it aside from leche flan, I  saw this recipe for yema from a Filipino cook book and I started craving for it as I picture in my mind the crunchy caramel and soft, creamy custard candy inside.. then,  I decided I will make it.

The recipe is pretty straight forward and simple, too simple in fact that it doesn’t include any explanations of the cooking process, no tips or hints for beginners;  it can be pretty frustrating sometimes but useful as an excuse for a failed dish LOL.   I think cookbooks like this assume that the reader knows how to cook already.

Well if you want to try this, I saved you the trouble of making the same mistake that I did (hopefully yours will come out perfect the first time). It’s really simple, it’s the caramel part that’s tricky. If you want, just stop at cooking the custard, the yema is good eaten as is or you could roll it in granulated sugar and you have yourself a pastillas, a sugar-coated milk candy.

But if you’re after the crunch and crackle of caramel, then go ahead finish it to the end, just take this tip from me:   CHILL or make sure you completely cool the yema balls before you dip it in the hot caramel. I will not make you go through reading my boring recount (I deleted it, even I find myself yawning while editing this post) of a failed attempt, just take my tip 🙂

mix all the ingredients in a non-stick pan

oops! I forgot the mashed potato, silly me..

cook over medium heat while stirring

it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides of pan…I over-cooked mine a little, see the browned part? ..and see the reason why you should use non-stick pan?

caramel…if you have a candy thermometer, wait for the boiling sugar mixture to register 340 F degrees before dip the yema balls in it


Caramel-coated custard candy balls

The ingredients:
1 big can (14 oz) condensed milk
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup mashed potato
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter or margarine


1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a non-stick pan, combine the all the ingredients for the yema. Cook (stir it while cooking) until thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool and shape into balls.

note: I cannot stress this enough, you have to make sure the yema balls are completely cool or better yet, chill them in the fridge of frezer for a few minutes. They can hold up well to the heavy and hot caramel when cold. You see I only have a few balls for the picture? I ruined most of them but we still ate it.

Prepare the caramel: Combine the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a pan; boil until it becomes amber in color, it takes about 7 minutes or if you have a candy thermometer wait for it to register 340 F degrees. Put a toothpick on a yema ball and dip in the caramel. Transfer to a lightly greased tray or platter. Wrap individual balls in plastic.

yummy yema..

It was said that during the Spanish-occupied Philippines, a lot of egg whites were extensively used in building churches and this lead to the creation of sweet treats like yema and leche flan which puts the egg yolks into use as well rather than let it go to waste.

Happy Cooking!


26 Responses to "Yema Balls (Caramel Coated Custard Candy Balls)"

  1. Kathern Gobbi   November 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    hey there and thanks for the recipe. =))

  2. Emilie   November 20, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. Thumbs up!

  3. Maricyl Bachao   November 18, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Hello, ms olive!

    Di po ba madaling masira yong yema balls dahil sa potato?

    • Olive   November 19, 2011 at 5:35 am

      Hi Maricyl! 🙂

      Hinde naman, but I’m not sure until when it’s still good to eat, I never got a chance to experiment kase 2 days max lang nagtatagal sa min ‘to but this is not the same as the yema candy which can last for more than a week kase aside from the potato, it has lots of egg yolks din. I’ll try to make it again and experiment..I hope I’ll find the time to do it *fingers crossed*

  4. Mimi   November 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Olive ~ Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! I’ve seen other recipes where they include chopped peanuts…have you seen this and do you have any idea what that does to the yema, ie, for flavor or texture perhaps?

  5. Ana   October 10, 2011 at 3:07 am

    hi! i came across this recipe because i was searching for one which uses sweet potatoes (camote) instead of regular potatoes….. can you use sweet potatoes instead??? i need a recipe that uses sweet potatoes for my school project, so can you?

    please reply, THANKS :))

    • Olive   November 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Ana!

      I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to reply on time to you when you needed it (your comment was buried under thousands of spam..d*mn those spam bots) but to answer your question still: yes, you may use camote or sweet potato, even squash actually and they’re all equally yummy..

  6. BABES   March 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm


    • tita ellen   November 2, 2010 at 7:17 pm

      Yes .. I remember my H.E teacher and we have tried using 1/2-C of melted butter , 2- Eggyolks 1 can condensed milk & 1-C. milk powder & 1-C. grated cheese… you have to cook all ings. and when it becomes sticky & almost dry just refrigerate the cooked Yema and rolled into white sugar , although we also tried dipping in caramel it will harden when completely cooled..either way, rolled into sugar or caramel best way to do it is to refrigerate them for hours until its hard …

      • Olive   November 2, 2010 at 11:02 pm

        thank you for sharing your recipe tita Ellen, it’s like a combination of pastillas and yema..I’m going to try it for sure! 🙂

  7. ellie   January 25, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    hi! your site is very helpful especially with the pictures and helpful hints. Can I ask a question? I came upon this product which is like a yema but the inside is runny… more like creamy caramel in texture. Do you know that? It is also rolled in granulated sugar. I was hoping to get a recipe of that. Please let me know if you know what I am talking about. Thanks!

  8. megiii   October 8, 2009 at 12:12 am

    errm. is cream of tartar that necessary?im only 16 and im planning on making this. hehe.

    BTW, waht kind of sugar is needed? brown?

    is it the big can of condensed milk?hehe.

    how many did you make with this ingredients?

    noob questions >.<

    anyways, tnx 😀

    • Olive   October 11, 2009 at 6:00 am

      Hi, Megii 🙂

      First, thanks for taking interest with this recipe and sorry for the late reply. For your questions..
      white sugar was used in this recipe and a big can of condensed milk (14 oz) plus the cream of tartar..I think it’s okay to skip it especially if you don’t have it in stock. For the quantity, as I’ve mentioned in the post, I didn’t make much (only about a 10 pcs of 1″ balls, that’s about 1-1 1/2 tablespoon of yema) because I made a mistake of dipping the yema in the caramel without chilling or completely cooling it at least. I hope that answers your concerns re this recipe. Let me know how it goes when you try it…

      ..and thanks for the questions I’ll update the recipe

  9. tsl   September 22, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    hmmm, seems delicious! Question though, is the mashed potato really necessary? What does it do to the yema? Is there any substitute for that? 🙂

    • Olive   September 23, 2009 at 1:31 am

      hello, tsl 🙂

      I think so..(this is my best guess, I’m not a chef or an expert on this subject) I think what the mashed potato does is give structure or support to the yema, without it, I think you’ll end up with a yema that is too soft and sticky and
      won’t hold up to the caramel. For the substitute, I’ve heard of mashed squash (calabasa) or maybe even pumpkin will do, or sweet potato, how about purple yam, I think that will do too, I’ve never tried it though.. Hope I answered all your questions..

      Thank you and Have a nice day! 🙂

  10. sizzlechef   September 4, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Sweet ! Thank you for sharing. Cheers !

    • Olive   September 5, 2009 at 6:45 am

      sizzle chef, Jessie ,Divina, Janice, Karen

      Thanks for dropping by.. Have a yummylicious day! 🙂

  11. short and bald   September 3, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    looks fantastic! ME TOO!, i’m a sucker for anything made with caramel~ ^^

    • Olive   September 5, 2009 at 6:57 am

      Short & Bald; Alta,

      Thanks..that makes 3 of us; I can’t resist anything covered, filled, frosted or slathered with caramel 🙂

  12. Jessie   September 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

    yum! I think I have seen these on a menu at this Filipino place I went to recently. Now I really want to try these!

  13. Divina   September 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    I love these yema balls. It’s been a long time since I’ve tasted one.

  14. Janice   September 2, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Wow, these look really great. I can’t wait to make them

  15. Karen   September 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

    This looks great! I’ve never seen anything like these before. Does the caramel stick to the plastic wrap, or does it get hard enough not to? I was thinking these would be fun for my daughter’s girl scout troop, if they hold up well 🙂

    • Olive   September 3, 2009 at 1:07 am

      Hi Karen 🙂
      I have never tried wrapping these balls in plastic wrap but I don’t think they will stick, I used to buy them covered in colored plastic film before; just make sure you keep them in a cool place because heat and humidity will melt the caramel and make them tacky. You could just roll the balls on granulated sugar instead of caramel if you’re worried about it melting, they taste just as good 🙂

  16. Alta   September 2, 2009 at 11:45 am

    These look delicious. I’m a sucker for anything caramel.


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