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Ube halaya is the purple sweet potato dessert you didn't know you needed

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Learn how to cook ube halaya, the Filipino treat made from purple yams

You may have seen ube, also known as purple yam or purple sweet potato, popping up on trendy food blogs and on Instagram. But this trending tuber has deep roots in the Philippines, where it's a key ingredient in a prized dessert.

The dessert is called ube halaya, and it's a sweet, creamy jam made from grated purple yam.

It has a short ingredient list, but requires lots of elbow grease — the grated yam is heated with milk (coconut, condensed or evaporated can all be used), sugar and sometimes butter and cheese over low heat, then stirred continuously until it's thick enough for the spoon to stand up on its own in the mixture.

More: How growing up in a Filipino household shaped my relationship with food

Then, it's pressed into a greased mold or dish and left to cool to room temperature or refrigerated.

The result is a cool dessert perfect for warm-weather days. It's thick, sweet, sticky and delicious.

To serve, you can top your ube halaya with latik (made from reducing coconut milk and toasting the residue in it's own oils until caramelized) or mild grated cheese.

Ube halaya can also be spread on bread for a sweet morning snack or be used to make ube macapuno cake and other desserts.

Here's the recipe for the Ube Bars as promised.... Crunchy Buckwheat and Rice Crust 150 grams dates 60 grams buckwheat groats 60 grams toasted brown rice powder 2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil 15 grams unsweetened rice crispies Process dates in a food processor until it starts to form into a ball. Add buckwheat groats, brown rice powder and oil. Pulse until everything is thoroughly mixed and sticks together when pressed. Transfer mixture into a lined 8"x8" pan and mix in rice crispies by hand. Press and compact thoroughly. Use a plastic scraper to level the crust. Freeze. VEGAN UBE HALAYA 350 grams cooked and grated ube 300 grams canned coconut cream* 100 grams light muscovado sugar 20 grams agave syrup 1/4 tsp salt 5 grams cocoa butter 1/8 tsp ube flavoring (optional) Cook the first 5 ingredients in a non-stick wok or skillet over low fire. Keep on stirring with a silicone spatula until mixture becomes smooth and thick. Turn off fire and add cocoa butter and flavoring, mixing until butter is melted and fully incorporated. Transfer mixture into a bowl. Cover with cling wrap, letting the plastic touch the whole surface of the halaya to prevent skin from forming. If you don't want to use plastic, use freezer paper or parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature before spreading mixture evenly on the chilled crust. Freeze for at least 1-2 hours before cutting. Store leftovers in the freezer but thaw out before serving. *This recipe makes a very thick jam that's perfect for slicing when made into bars; if you want to make a softer more spreadable jam, add more coconut cream. #ube #halaya #ubehalaya #veganfoodshare #vegansofig #purple #ubejam #refinedsugarfree #glutenfree #vegansnack #vegandessert

A photo posted by Silvia (@blacksesame16) on

Ube halaya's cousin is ube ice cream, one of the key ingredients in the frozen treat halo-halo.

More: 8 ways to tell the difference between sweet potatoes and yams

Deeez #HALOHALO

A photo posted by KIRSTEN fka KUHZ10 (@thekirstisreal.eggs) on

If you love desserts made with pumpkin and sweet potato, you'll probably love ube halaya. And with its gorgeous purple color, it'll liven up any table.

You can get frozen ube at many Asian grocery stores or find the raw purple yams at farmers markets and specialty grocers like Whole Foods.

Ready to try your hand at making ube halaya? Check out these recipes from Panlasang Pinoy, Foxy Folksy and Kawaling Pinoy.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Learn how to cook ube halaya, the Filipino treat made from purple yams
Image: The Skinny Pot
Learn how to cook ube halaya, the Filipino treat made from purple yams
Image: SheKnows
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