Also known as “ube” to Filipinos, purple yam has a rougher, darker skin. They also grow from a vine above ground. This yam is one of the important sources of food and livelihood in the Philippines.
It is often used in making native desserts. If you have a Filipino grocery store in your area, you might be able to acquire purple yam.
Sweets in the Philippines, such as “halo-halo”, “sorbetes”, or “pastillas”, are incomplete without ”ube”. That is why every Filipino version of various desserts has purple yam in them.
Ice cream, mooncakes, pies, and even candy bars all have purple yam versions in the Philippines. It seems like the flavor of this yam is part of every Filipino child’s memory growing up.
When you know it has “ube”, it is definitely a special dessert.
A native of the Philippines, the purple yam (Dioscorea alata) is a unique rope with a bright purple coloration. Purple yam is already starchy and bright purple. It doesn’t need a lot of treatment as an ingredient.
Just add a few simple ingredients and you can transform it into “ube” jam. I remember a Fil-Am friend of mine. She said that her grandmother would always bring “ube jalea” whenever she visited for Christmas.
It’s a special dessert during important occasions back in the Philippines. The holidays, weddings, christenings, and reunions always have purple yams there.
“Ube jalea” is always made with a huge cast iron wok or a “kawa” over direct flames. As the “ube” cooks, coconut milk and condensed milk are added. It involves vigilant stirring and folding.
This constant movement is necessary so that the condensed milk will thicken without burning. Once the sweet, purple paste is thick enough, it is placed in containers to cool.
Jars are good if you want to give them as preserves. If you want it to cool more quickly for the ongoing feast, place it in shallow bowls or large platters.
Many bakeshops and pastry shops in the United States now include purple baked goodies on their list of products. Thanks to their access to purple yams, more people are now appreciating the delicious flavor of this root crop.
I have Filipino friends and they have introduced me to the purple yam a few times. They made me taste “ube” in the form of “halaya” or a thick, creamy, sweet purple yam jam.
We usually just ate it right out of the jar with spoons in hand.
Since it’s the holiday season, colors abound in decorations and food. I always made colorful cookies for my family and friends.
This year, I decided to change things up and went with purple. When I made a batch of my soft, “ube” crinkles, I noted the following techniques to make the process smoother.
- Cool the purple dough before scooping and rolling them in powdered sugar. This makes it more workable.
- Oil your ice cream scoop if you are using one.
- Oil your hands if you plan to be more tactile in shaping them before rolling them in powdered sugar.
- Make sure to arrange them about an inch apart on the prepared baking tray.
Here is my easy recipe for ube crinkle cookies. I hope it adds more sweet holiday magic to your gatherings at the year’s end.
1 To make the ube crinkles, we start by mixing together all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whether you want to sift it or dry whisk it, it’s all up to you. For this recipe, I just dry whisked. Worked for me.
2 In a mixing bowl, cream together to sugars (white and brown) and butter until light and fluffy.
3 Mix the ingredients. Beat in the egg and mix well.
4 Now for the fun part – add in the Ube!!! Both the jam and the flavoring.
5 Now, add the dry ingredients. Cover the crinkle cookie dough with cling wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator. I chilled mine overnight, but if you can’t wait, the four hours will do.
6 Cover with powdered sugar. Ohhh!!! Another fun part! Place the powdered sugar in a medium-sized bowl. There will be lumps in the sugar but it really doesn’t matter. We’ll just be using it as a coat.
7 Now, get the dough from the ref and get an ice cream scooper. I used a .25 oz (1 ½ teaspoon) sized scoop. I like small cookies, they’re pretty nice.
8 Roll the dough into a ball and coat with powdered sugar. Place them in the cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake for 7 minutes at 350F.
You can make approximately 76 yummy ube cookies from this recipe.
The finished product. That bright ube color? I love it!
Let the cookies cool in the cookie sheet for about 30 minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack or your tummy. Your cooling rack or your tummy? Your choice.
Ube Crinkles Recipe
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Yield: 36 cookies
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup ube jam / halaya (I used Ube Jam from Mountain Maid Training Center)
- 1 teaspoon ube flavoring (I used the McCormick Ube Flavor)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Assemble team dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
- Add in ube jam and ube flavoring then gradually add in the dry ingredients.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
- Using a .25 oz (1 ½ teaspoon) ice cream scoop, roll the cookie dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar.
- Bake at 350F for 7 minutes or until done.
Cookies are okay to store at room temp for a week.