Hello, Lovelies! I hope you are all doing wonderfully. I have a brand new series starting today (this post is it)! This little series will be dedicated to trying new food, exploring cultures, and inviting you to do the same. Life is too short to not explore the world around us. This little series will be about just that — exploring new foods. I strongly believe that trying food is a great way to “travel” without all the expense and time. I mean, think about it, besides shopping and sightseeing why do we travel? FOR FOOD!! So go out into your town and see what there is around you, you don’t have to travel to be connected to the world around you, you just need an open mind and a willingness to try! If you need some ideas on great food to look for or maybe you are like me and need a nudge to try new things, well… that’s what I’m here for! Every second and fourth Monday of each month will be dedicated to exploring a new food and reporting back to you. Let’s get started!
What is Halo-Halo?
Halo-Halo is pronounced hollow-hollow (based on listening to several pronunciations, this is the best I got, correct me in the comments). Halo-Halo is the dessert of the Philippines. When summertime hits, you can find this dessert on every corner (it’s like the Starbucks of the Phillippines, Luckies)! Halo-Halo translates to mix-mix, which makes sense because you get so many mix-ins (toppings) and can mix it all together before eating.
Just like all traditional dishes, halo-halo can’t be narrowed down to a few ingredients. Halo-Halo recipes vary from restaurant to restaurant, and that’s what makes a dish amazing. Halo-Halo is, ideally, shaved ice mixed with evaporated milk topped with ice cream and a variety of toppings/mix-ins. It is basically the Filipino sundae but a million times better and way more intricate and colorful.
Traditionally, the sundae is topped with ube ice cream. Ube is purple yam and may sound a bit weird at first, but it is no doubt my new favorite flavor of ice cream. Using a potato as something sweet isn’t anything unheard of, in America (and I’m sure other countries) we top sweet potatoes/yams with marshmallows and eat it with Thanksgiving dinner all the time. But this ice cream isn’t really ‘yammy’ at all (I bet if I didn’t tell you it was a starch you wouldn’t even notice).
The toppings are where halo-halo can vary drastically. Some traditional toppings include sweetened red/white beans, coconut, fruits (jackfruit, lychee, plantains), fruit-flavored gelatin cubes (coconut jellies), and sometimes even flan! The toppings vary because some of it depends on the fruit that is in season and the recipe that is used (varies between families/establishments/preferences).
I outlined the halo-halo we enjoyed:
If you live in Colorado or will be traveling there soon, we had halo-halo at Chowsun and I highly recommend them. They are fairly priced, have even more amazing food, and this halo-halo was divine.
What does Halo-Halo Taste Like?
As I said earlier halo-halo is like a Filipino sundae. Since there are so many different types of toppings with so many textures and flavors, every bite is different which is really what makes this dish so special. If you have ever seen Accepted, this is the closest you will get to a wad, and I’m on board with that idea.
Since there are so many components I’m going to try to describe each one separately, but really, you just gotta try it. Ube ice cream is the best flavor of anything I have ever tasted in my life. It’s like a mix of the earthiness from green tea ice cream and the nuttiness from toasted coconut. It has a really delicate flavor and is the perfect creaminess you could ask for in an ice cream. It is subtly sweet and probably the most perfect flavor for ice cream I can imagine (the second Derek ate this he knew I would be a fan, I guess it is the flavor for me and I may be extremely biased). Plus, you gotta love that bright and vibrant purple!
The flan is a small topping but was probably one of my favorites. Flan is a custard-like dessert with a thin caramel topping. It is creamy, sugary, and well custardy. It pretty much has notes of caramel and vanilla, but it’s great.
The sweetened red and white beans were good. I didn’t love the texture (normal bean texture, chalky). I preferred the taste of the white bean probably because it was a bit milder and picked up more of the simple syrup. The red bean was a bit more ‘bean’ flavored and a bit harder (due to the coldness of the ice), however, they were a delightful treat and I loved getting to try them. Beans in dessert are very common in Asian countries and are amazing in Japanese (sweet) red bean buns (Anpan).
The coconut cubed jellies were like a firm jello (probably because they were cold), and very sweet. There are different flavors, but they are hard to pin down to a single flavor. They are really sweet and we had fun trying to pick them out of the dessert.
Overall, when eating the dessert you get a creamy (milk consistency) and icy (slushie) texture that’s not too sweet with the super creamy ube ice cream, and then whatever toppings you happened to grab with your spoon. This dessert isn’t super sweet like most American desserts, but if you get too many toppings in one bite it does become very sweet. Honestly, it is super fun to eat and experience and I love the texture of the evaporated milk, shaved ice, and ice cream.
How to Get Your Hands on This
If you are absolutely sold on the idea of halo-halo, I recommend trying to find a restaurant near you that serves it. I typed into google “halo-halo [nearest big city/state]”. It took a bit of searching, but I soon found several places in Denver that had them.
If you can’t find any in your area, I would recommend trying this recipe. It might be a bit hard because there are so many toppings, but honestly, if you can make the evaporated milk, shaved ice, and ube ice cream part of the dish with a few toppings (don’t worry about trying to get all the toppings) you’ll have a pretty great experience.
You can also search for Asian markets/grocery stores near you. They will most likely have ube ice cream and some of the toppings already prepared (and definitely some of the trickier fruits). You can also buy some premade toppings and ube powder (to make your own ice cream) on Amazon. If you can’t make the whole halo-halo shebang happen, I do recommend at least getting your hands on some ube ice cream. Here is a recipe for making homemade ube ice cream.
Life is too short to not eat good food and experience the world around you through it.
I would love to hear what you think of the new series and if you have ever had halo-halo in the comments below!
If you are interested in more food-related stuffs, check out some of these dessert recipes:
Thank you so much for reading and for all the support. I wish you the best in your future food adventures!