While the month of October is typically known for marking the beginning of the fall season and celebrating Halloween, it is also Filipino American History Month. As the month comes to a close, I thought the best way to celebrate it was with the Philippines’ favorite purple yam: ube! Known for its vibrant purple color, ube is a type of starchy tuber vegetable that is originally from the Philippines. It has a very rich, earthy and nutty flavor with a subtle sweetness that makes it a very popular ingredient in many Filipino desserts, such as ice cream and pastries. The most popular form of ube is known as ube halaya, a jam made from boiling and mashing the purple yam. You can find ube halaya or any other form of ube at any local Filipino market near you.
When thinking about how I wanted to incorporate ube into a dessert, I decided I wanted to make a cookie that was reminiscent of the cookies from the famous Levain Bakery in New York City. The cookies from Levain Bakery are massive, with a perfectly crisp, golden brown exterior and a gooey, melty texture on the inside. There are many different recipes online that attempt to replicate the cookies, but my favorite one is from Delish. I adapted this recipe and put my own Filipino twist on it by incorporating some ube halaya and ube extract. You can watch their Test Kitchen Manager, June, walk you through the steps of the recipe in their video “Giant Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies By June | Delish” on Youtube.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup ube halaya
- 1/2 teaspoon ube extract
- 2 cups white chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon purple food coloring (optional)
- Combine the flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- In another large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream the cubes of butter until soft. Then, gradually add the sugars to the butter and continue to cream until fully incorporated. Add in the ube halaya and the ube extract and continue creaming.
- Add in the white chocolate chips to the mixture and mix until fully incorporated. You can also add in a few drops of purple food coloring for a more vibrant hue.
- Slowly add in the flour mixture in one-third intervals and continue beating until the mixture combines into a crumbly paste.
- Gradually add in both eggs, one at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture turns into a smooth and combined dough. If the dough mixture is thin or runny, chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Take the dough out of the freezer and scoop out balls of dough. Weigh the balls of dough on a kitchen scale to ensure that each dough is approximately 6 ounces. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can use an ice cream scoop to scoop two balls of dough and combine them. Place the balls of dough onto a tray and freeze for another hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put another empty baking sheet into the oven upside down. When baking, place the tray of frozen dough on top of the upside down sheet in order to prevent the bottoms of the cookies from burning. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.
These cookies are definitely best enjoyed when they are warm, as the doughy interior and the white chocolate chips just completely melt in your mouth. They’re also perfect with a nice, cold glass of milk. Enjoy, and Happy Filipino American History Month!
A version of this article was featured on p. 11 of the November 4, 2021 print edition 0f the Daily Nexus