Monday, December 14, 2009

Recipe: Ube-Coconut Vegan Fudge

One of the advantages of having a Filipino husband is being introduced to some marvelous new flavors like ube. Ube (rhymes with "eBay") is a kind of yam, but instead of being orange like ordinary yams it's a bright, eye-popping violet color that you'd swear could never be found in nature. It's used in desserts: ube cake, ube ice cream, and my favorite, ube hopia (a tiny pastry with an ube filling). The flavor is, well, a bit potato-y, but I really like it. Ube can be found at Asian stores that sell Filipino food. It comes in three forms: whole yams, ube jam, and ube powder. The jam is the most prevalent, but I like using the powder in recipes.

So when I was casting around for ideas and recipes to make vegan fudge for my milk-allergic kids' holiday treats, I hit upon the idea of making ube fudge. I searched in vain for a recipe online, and then it hit me: I don't think anyone else has EVER made ube fudge. I will be the first person in the universe to make it!

I've never been the first person to do anything. First in my family, maybe, or first in my town. But I've never independently invented anything that had never been in the world before. So if you happen to know that they serve ube fudge at some high-end Filipino Fusion cuisine restaurant in Manila or New York, please don't tell me. Let me savor the moment of at least thinking I'm the first to do it, OK? The recipe needs a bit of work. It's not as "smooth" as I'd like it to be, and it's really, really sweet, maybe too much so (ube powder has sugar in it). But it's tasty and full of ube goodness. Maybe somebody with more candy-making experience than me could refine it.

The biggest problem with ube is getting Utahns to want to eat it. We made ube puto* for Princess' Harry Potter birthday party and tried to pass them off as "cauldron cakes" (they're steamed in a cauldron stockpot, aren't they?), but it was the only treat left over when the party ended. However, Utahns go wild for coconut; they'll eat just about anything if it's got enough coconut in it. And coconut goes well with ube. So I put a layer of coconut on my ube fudge, in an attempt to get my neighbors to look at it and say "This is something I would like to put in my mouth!" rather than "Call Energy Solutions; I think some of that nuclear waste arrived here by mistake."

Ube-Coconut Vegan Fudge

6 Tbsp. vegan margarine (non-vegans can use butter)
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. ube powder
1/4 c. soymilk (non-vegans can use cow milk)
dash of vanilla extract
about 1/4 c. sweetened coconut flakes

Grease a loaf pan and sprinkle the coconut flakes in the bottom. Place remaining ingredients in a double boiler; stir and heat until smooth. Press over coconut in loaf pan; let cool. Cut into squares and invert to serve.

* a steamed rice muffin. Yes, I know what that word means in Spanish. My husband grew up in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood and came to hate International Food Day. His mom sent him to school with puto to share; linguistic hilarity and suspendable offenses ensued.