Monday, October 22, 2012

A Merrily I Go Shopping...Filipino Desserts

For a recent late evening potluck with good friends, I wanted to bring a Filipino dessert dish. Anybody living in San Diego, CA knows that the best place to buy Filipino food is in National City. National City is the second oldest city in San Diego County and has flourished as a cultural mecca for Filipino cuisine.

I first stopped at Filipino Desserts Plus located in the Grove Plaza Center in National City. This desssert shop was highly recommended by my Mom, who, in my opinion, is an expert in knowing where to find the best places for Filipino food. She not only shops in National City frequently but she also makes the best homemade Filipino food (I might be a little bias) and therefore knows what tastes good. Filipino Desserts Plus is a family-owned and operated business that has served the San Diego community for over two decades. It specializes in filipino desserts and party trays.

When I first entered, I was very impressed with their interior presentation of prepackaged desserts along the shelving unit and throughout parts of the store. Everything was well organized and labeled, and with clear packaging, the scrumptious shapes and colors of each food item were visibly shown. A variety of freshly cooked food were kept behind a couple of pastry display counters and I was happy to see that they had some leche flan readily available. I decided to purchase their flan (one of my favorite Filipino desserts) for my potluck. It was shaped in its traditional oval mold and quite delicious! I've also heard rave reviews about their turon (banana fritters) and will have to try some the next time I stop by National City. 

The entrance to Filipino Desserts Plus.

Shelving full of prepackaged filipino desserts and snacks.

Roasted cashews and Hopia (pastry filled with sweetened mung bean paste).

Colorfully wrapped pastillas (milk candies).

Behind the display counters include things like: Kwek Kwek (hard-boiled chicken eggs wrapped in batter than fried until golden brown), Karioka (deep-fried, chewy rice balls made with sweet sugar), Turon (deep fried banana fritters) and Leche Flan; in front of the glass counters are pre-packaged Suman (sticky rice wrapped in banana or coconut leaves then boiled).

Puto (steamed rice cake) and Biko (sticky rice cake made with coconut milk & brown sugar).

Another dessert shop, also recommended by my Mom, is the Chinese Canton Bakery in National City. It's just a few blocks west from Filipino Desserts Plus. The Canton Bakery is a nice little place with display cases full of cookies, cakes, eclairs, and other good stuff. Although this bakery does not specialize in Filipino desserts, they do make amazing siopao (Filipino version of the Chinese steamed buns) filled with BBQ pork or chicken and can be purchased by the bunch at a very affordable price. 

Siopao, steamed buns with savory meat filling. (Source:

Also, the lady working there was quite nice and a delight to chat with! I did buy a dozen of their strawberry butter cookies for my boys and their little cousins, and they absolutely loved the cookies! Of course, I had to try one and it was very light and subtly sweet, just the way I like cookies. I've heard their coconut breads are pretty delicious, too, and I will have to try them the next time I am in the area.

Store front window of Chinese Canton Bakery.

Delicious strawberry butter cookies.

Display case full of many cakes!

I also wanted to share with you some of my favorite Filipino desserts and each with a link to recipes on how to make them. There are many different recipes readily available throughout the internet and I selected ones based on pictorial presentation and simpleness of their recipes.
  • Leche Flan - Leche Flan is the Filipino version of créme caramel, a rich custard dessert with a soft layer of caramel on top. The traditional mold used in the Philippines is an oval-shaped metal baking pan called llanera. These days ceramic ramekins or custard cups are used for convenience. 
Leche Flan Recipe from "Everybody's Recipes" blog.

  • Bibingka - Bibingka is a dense and chewy rice cake traditionally eaten during Christmas season. There are a variety of bibingka cakes each made with rice flour, coconut and cheese.   
Bibingka Recipe from "All the Trimmings" blog.

Read more here:
  • Pastillas de Leche - Pastillas de Leche are milk candies traditionally made from carabao milk. Carabao, the Philippine's national animal, is a type of water buffalo. It's milk which is richer, creamier, and contains fat, lactose, vitamins, and minerals is what gives pastillas that melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It is simmered with sugar under low heat until thick. It is then rolled into small cylinders then coated with sugar and wrapped in cellophane or Japanese paper. When my parents or other relatives return from the Philippines they alway bring bags full of these colorfully wrapped treats which really do melt in your mouth!
Pastillas de Leche Recipe from "Panlasang Pinoy". This recipe, because carabao's milk is not readily available in certain parts of the world, uses condensed milk and powdered milk instead. Also, no cooking involved!

  • Turon (Banana Fritters) - Turon is a sweet and crunchy fritter snack made of thinly sliced bananas and a slice of jackfruit, caramelized brown sugar, and rolled in spring roll wrapper then fried. These banana fritters are sinfully sweet and delicious and are a great addition to any party!
Banana Fritters Recipe from "".

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Filipino desserts! Let me know if you try any of the recipes and what you think about them! I will try making some too!!!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. wow..all those desserts look tasty. I'm a huge dessert fan.

  2. everything looks delicious! i am so in the mood for dessert right now. going to search my pantry for ingredients... thanks for sharing!

  3. jess, i must come with you the next time you are around national city. I always have this incredible urge...

  4. Nice, we dont have anything like that here in Czech republic, but it must be nice to go shopping for foreign sweets :) Great post !

  5. Thanks sister for being my first official reader of my blog. Now maybe we can do guest posts about our favorite topics