Purple Yam – YUM! (Ube Halaya)

I LOVE purple yam (or what we call ube in Filipino)  made into halaya (sweetened).   Way back when I was still  young and living in the province, I would never, ever,  pass-up any invitations on birthdays, fiestas and even weddings because I know my favorite sweets will be there, lying splendid on a buffet table – leche flan (creme caramel or custard), fruit or buco (young coconut)  salad and of course halaya (sweetened purple yam).

Next to leche flan this  is my absolute favorite Filipino dessert.  I miss this food so much, I never get to have this as often even if I want to because ube or purple yam is hard to find  or most often unavailable where I usually do my food shopping. There is of course the powdered ube but  I don’t like it that much, I’ve tried it, what I want is real, buttery purple yam.

Last week, finally, someone I asked to buy ube (purple yam) from the public market came back with.. ube, yay!  I didn’t waste time, I made sweetened purple yam and cupcakes.   Both we’re delicious, but  I still prefer plain, sweetened purple yam with just a touch of macapuno (coconut sport) for topping.

I learned how to cook this from an aunt (one of my mother’s sister) who is a great cook ( she actually cooks better than my mom), she knows how to make most of my favorite food including this.  I watched her cook halaya (sweetened purple yam) a few times before when I was little, that’s how I learned how to make my own.

I just made  little changes like I don’t add as much butter/margarine as she does and I don’t grind my ube really fine.   I find that task too tedious and time consuming, I did that the first time but the succeeding ones,  I gave up, I decided I like my ube halaya a little chunky from then on.  She saw how I make it but she just shrugged and even said it taste good, well, it does ; )

This sweetened purple yam are normally eaten as is but it is also use for halo-halo and filling for pies and tarts. In Laguna, is where you can find the best ube-macapuno pies in the Philippines.

Here’s how to make Halaya or Sweetened Purple Yam in photos, recipe follows at the end..


1 1/2  cups grated cooked purple yam
1 cup evaporated milk or (traditionally) coconut milk
1 14oz can condensed milk
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter/margarine plus extra for smoothing the cooked yam

note: I made these from fresh purple yam but you can also use the powdered form if you cannot really find fresh and have a craving for purple yam. You just add more milk if you find it too dry as you’re cooking it. And on texture..it’s my personal choice and preference, the traditional way of making it uses finely ground purple yam, which you can easily achieve with food processor or by using food mill or passing the grated yum through a fine mesh sieve.

Here’s how:

If using fresh, wash the purple yam thoroughly; Peel and slice it into big chunks and boil until tender. You may also leave the peel if you find it hard to do so and just peel it after boiling, just make sure you washed it thoroughly, remember it’s a root crop..it’s DIRTY.

In a deep pot or saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter or margarine. Stir to combine well and on medium high heat, cook until the mixture thickens. You have to keep stirring while cooking to avoid lumps. It will get harder to stir as it cooks, so make sure you change hands to give the other arm a work out too 🙂

Halfway through the cooking, add a tablespoon of butter. Mix well and continue cooking until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan/pot and when you get some, it doesn’t fall off the spoon.

Transfer the sweetened purple yam into well-buttered dish/dishes. Add a pat of butter on top of the mixture and using the back of a spoon, level and smooth the purple yam. That’s it!

This is optional but definitely adds more yum factor: Top the purple yam with some sweetened macapuno before serving.



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5 Responses to "Purple Yam – YUM! (Ube Halaya)"

  1. Louisa   December 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I first had ube icecream over 20 years ago when i visited the Philippines
    I can only find it here in Australia in a frozen form (ube & icecream)
    Any ideas where i can find it fresh in Sydney ?
    Your recipes are evoking wonderful memories, I married a Filippino the food was so good 🙂

  2. Divina   October 1, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Haha. Daifuku… yes, why not. So, added more flour to the halay for the gnocchi too?

  3. Karine   September 29, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I did not know yams could be purple! So interesting! Thanks for sharing:)

  4. Divina   September 29, 2009 at 7:43 am

    So, this is how you make Ube halaya. I love this with halo-halo. So, you eat this just like that? Can I use this for something else? My next project? I haven’t done the pichi-pichi yet. 🙂

    • Olive   September 29, 2009 at 8:52 am

      Oh, yes, Divine, it’s good by itself, try it next time you eat halo-halo, dig for that ube :). And you can turn this into many other things, make dessert gnocchi with it, use it as filling for pies, tarts, cakes or for your future cooking project, daifuku 😉 I made this into cupcake frosting for my purple yam cupcakes..so many things you could do with this..

      Thanks Divine 🙂


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