Do you know of any vegetable that can be used as a dessert? Look no further.The ube or purple yam is a vegetable that makes awesome desserts. Ube, or purple yam is a tuber that grows on a vine, above ground. In the Philippines, it is a major vegetable crop and an important source of food. It is abundant in the last months of the year. And this is why during the Christmas holidays, a lot of desserts and snacks in the Philippines are made of ube.
Commonly grown in Asia, South America, Africa, the purple yam or ube as it is called in the Philippines is a tuber that can be cooked in many ways. At first sight, it looks like any old potato with a brown outer skin that is dull and rough. Once sliced, the heavy tuber looks pretty with a light purple color and a juicy inner texture.
A favorite way to cook ube is to make “ube halaya” (ube jam). I buy fresh purple yams at the Asian markets when they’re in season the last months of the year from October to December. Or I purchase the frozen grated pre-boiled purple yams or ‘ube’ from Asian groceries which is available all year round. The tuber is peeled, boiled, then mashed, mixed and cooked with milk, sugar and butter. Some recipes call for mixing it with coconut cream or grated coconut meat. In all these ways ube is utterly delectable.
My sons grew up in America so when they first tasted ube jam from the Philippines, they were delirious with delight, and described it as having a dairy-like, sweet fruity taste, though quite rich. Open the jar, and the sight of the dark purple, thick jam of mashed-potato-consistency, with its swirly mass invites you to stick a spoon and just dig into the dark sweetness.
It is towards the end of the year when I start to make more desserts and pastries using ube, not only because it is available in Asian markets but because this tuber reminds me of the holidays. So I got to work.
The plump, tart blueberries cooked in syrup and laced with lemon juice, popped in my mouth. Unexpectedly a burst of fresh blueberry juice released its glory in my being. I closed my eyes dreamily as I licked the spoonful of sweet purple yam the berries were cradled in. And last but not the least, I gingerly balanced the flakey, buttery pastry crust on the fork and in a swift motion ate it all up.
It was a mountainful of blueberries, purple yam and buttery crust all in one. I could not believe that this delightful dessert just came out of my oven. I am glad I made enough to fill 6 mini tart molds with removable bottoms for my family to enjoy.