Halo-Halo is a delicious Filipino dessert full of shaved ice, fruit, ice cream, and more. If you haven't had it yet, give it a try!
Imagine an ice cream sundae in all its possible iterations – a fruity banana split, a rich brownie sundae, or a towering treat piled high in a waffle cup. Halo-halo belongs in this same category ... sort of. It combines key components for a unique, refreshing dessert that will really hit the spot on a hot summer day.
Its fun name simply means "mix-mix" which is exactly what you should do when you get it. I'll admit, I cheat and eat the flan and some of the ice cream first! Whether you get it from a little neighborhood spot or in a fancy sit-down restaurant, a proper halo-halo should have the following ingredients:
Courtesy of Culture Trip
Ube Ice Cream or Jam
This bright purple scoop gets its gorgeous color from the purple sweet potato, also known as ube. It has a rich, mellow flavor, just like a "regular" sweet potato or yam. This is usually the top of the dessert. Purists might prefer straight up chunks of roasted ube sweet potatoes, but I haven't seen it that way yet.
My favorite part of the halo-halo has got to be the little slice of leche flan they put on top of it. It's more solid than the flan you get in little pudding cups, but creamy and sweet all the same.
Finely shaved ice is to chill all of the tinned fruit and syrups at the bottom of the cup or bowl.
Expect to find fresh slices of banana or sweet chunks of banana in syrup. You should also see strips or sweet jackfruit, maybe some palm nuts or strands of young coconut. This part is like eating a bowl of cold fruit cocktail or tinned peaches – so refreshing!
Little cubes of gelatin are usually at the bottom. Not quite like Jell-o – it's more like tiny bits of jigglers. The pieces might be brightly colored or made with coconut flavoring – the possibilities are endless.
Other than these five main components, you might find a spoon or two of sweet red beans, an evaporated milk, or syrup drizzle – just mix it all up and dive in.
Photo by Sarina Petrocelly
Halo-halo can be enjoyed in whatever version you come across, as a snack or a dessert. Knowing what generally goes into it, try it at different Filipino establishments and see where you like it best! In my neighborhood, I get it at Kababayan, a little neighborhood Filipino grocery store with a food counter. This tall cup of it is plenty to share for well under $10.
If you like ice cream, or shaved ices, or chilled canned fruit cocktail, you'll probably like halo-halo. If you want to give it a try at home, most Asian supermarkets carry it in a jar – you just add your own crushed ice and ice cream to the top. I prefer getting it from a restaurant, though – you'll never get the right consistency without that finely shaved ice.
Are you a big halo-halo fan? Where do you get it? Let us know in the comments!