Yema: A Soft and Delicious Filipino Candy

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Yema: A Soft and Delicious Filipino Candy

Yema candy is one of the most popular Filipino candy, and it is loved by many, especially those with a sweet tooth. Yema is egg yolk in Spanish, and it is connected to its yellow appearance that resembles that of an egg yolk. This Filipino sweet has the same texture and richness as that of a crème brulee, which is a French dessert. Yemas are sometimes made with the total addition of a crisp and thin coating or sugar that is caramelized. The traditional yema is wrapped individual squares using a colorful cellophane, but mostly it is wrapped in yellow cellophane to match its color. Yemas can be bought anywhere in the country, from small stores to stalls on the roadsides, from street vendors that you can spot outside churches to bakeries and groceries.

But where does the yema come from and why is it so popular? This Filipino candy, just like the other Filipino food, is a result of the multicultural heritage of the country. There have been speculations that the Spaniards that lived in the country were the ones who introduced this recipe, while others stated that the Filipinos were the ones who thought of the recipe that were later served to the Spaniards who invaded the country hundreds of years ago. The only thing that is proven is that even before its recorded appearance, a Spanish place, specifically the convent was already known for making a delicacy that is very similar to yema.

The original ingredients of yemas consists of egg yolks and a syrup that is made from cinnamon, lemon juice, water and sugar and they mix it until it turned into a pastry dough. If you see that the mixture is ready and cooled, they then molded it into small balls and they served it in white and fluted shaped tartlet cups. Throughout the years, the egg yolk remained as the primary ingredient of the candy after the candy was produced by the people in the Philippines. Milk was also added into the whole mixture of the candy after the Filipinos learned how to use and boil down the can of milk to bring a creamier and a sweeter taste in pastries and desserts. The different types of dairy products also came into the country after the colonization of the Americans and after they introduced the whole canning process of products.

After decades of progress, there are now different variations and versions of the original yema candy recipe. In the province of Bulacan in Luzon, which is known as the center of many famous Filipino candies, the yemas have nuts and cookies added into them. The people from Bulacan are also the first one to change the shape of yemas from small little balls into pyramids, and they are the ones that are commonly distributed and sold in the market today. They have also added different twists to the famous yema candy, there are now different flavors of the yema candy aside from the well-known custard flavor, there are now ube, vanilla, caramel and even strawberry flavored yema candies.
There are also different innovations in the culinary department that have made their way on the famous yema. Powdered milk is now in some of the yema recipes made and condensed milk are also added instead of the traditional egg yolk. There are also those who had taken the Filipino candy up a few notches and added different exotic kinds of ingredients such as chili peppers and sea salt. But of course, nothing can even come close to the original creamy kind of sweetness of yema that is made with the traditional egg yolk.
After knowing about the brief history of the beloved Filipino candy, the real question now is asked, how do you make them? Here are the ingredients in making the yema candy.

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • ½ kilo of white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks

Once you have all of the ingredients for the classic yema, you need to prepare a frying pan or a pot and mix all 6 egg yolks, the can of condensed milk and the teaspoon of vanilla essence well until they all blend. You then need to boil them and reduce the heat to low in order to prevent the mixture from overcooking or from burning. By using a metal spatula, you can stir the milk by scraping the bottom of the frying pan or the pot and stirring it constantly. You need to do it continuously and constantly to avoid burning the mixture, especially the milk and also to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the frying pan or the pot. Once your mixture is ready, let it cool for a few minutes and turn them into balls that measures about 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. You then need to place the yema balls on a plate with white sugar and roll them until they are fully coated, you can then pick each ball using a toothpick and set them aside to cool. Once you are done, wrap each of the balls in a cellophane and twist both of the ends to secure it.
If you wish to give your yema candy a twist, you can add crushed peanuts or crushed cookies in the mixture. This will give your yema a sweeter taste and a chewier texture. You can also add other flavors in your yema, as some stores already produce ube yemas and caramel yemas.

If you wish to make pyramid shaped yemas, you need to change some of the ingredients. You will need two tins of condensed milk, 3 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of butter. You have the choice of adding flavoring, you can used chopped langka, chopped peanuts or canned durian. Just mix all of the ingredients in a frying pan or pot and when the mixture becomes thick then you can remove it from the heat and let it cool. You can then mold the yemas into pyramids using a spoon and any spatula, you can even shape them using your fingers. After you shaped them you can then place them on cellophanes and wrapped the tip for closure.

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