Every Filipino lists the reasons why they love halo-halo: it’s cool, refreshing, filling, milky and sweet. They describe their favourites: with the lot, à la mode, Razon-style.
Halo-halo varies from simple to extravagant, with any combination of sweetened beans, fruit, jellies, ube (purple yam) jam, ice-cream and leche flan possible. They agree on some things: the shaved ice should melt slightly and a thorough mixing with a spoon is necessary before digging in.
This version is inspired by the halo-halos I have enjoyed in resorts, where decorative young coconuts take the place of traditional tall sundae glasses, which can still be used if desired. The young coconut’s soft meat also adds to the medley of ingredients, most of which are available from Filipino grocery stores.
A scoop of ice cream and crisp rice flakes on top make it ‘especial’.
10g green rice flakes
4 young coconuts, (optional)
1 bottle saba bananas in syrup
1 bottle jackfruit in syrup
1 bottle coconut gel
6 cups shaved ice, plus extra to serve
500ml evaporated milk
250g condensed milk
mango ice cream, to serve
220g caster sugar
2 teaspoons agar-agar powder,
red or green food colouring, (optional)
To make the jelly, place the sugar and 750 ml water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Whisk in the agar-agar powder until dissolved, then bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, then stir in the food colouring, if using.
Transfer the mixture to a 20 cm square baking tin and stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or until firm. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To toast the rice flakes, place them in a small frying pan over medium–high heat. Cook for 8–10 minutes, flipping them in the pan, until golden and toasted. Immediately transfer to a bowl and cool.
Open the young coconuts, leaving the tops attached to the shells, if desired. Using a cleaver or the heel of a large knife, cut off the dome-shaped lid or leave attached at the side (take care not to spill the coconut water). Transfer the coconut water to a jug and reserve for another use.
Alternatively, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for later use. Using a spoon, scoop out the meat, but don’t scrape too hard or you’ll have bits of hard shell attached to the meat.
Transfer the coconut water to a jug and reserve. Alternatively, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for later use.
Using a spoon, scoop out the meat, but don’t scrape too hard or you’ll have bits of hard shell attached to the meat.
Place a heaped tablespoon each of banana, jackfruit, coconut gel and jelly in each shell or serving glass. Any leftover reserved fruits and jelly will keep in the refrigerator for future halo-halos.
Fill a shell or glass with shaved ice, then pour over 125 ml of the evaporated milk and 60 ml of the condensed milk. Top with more shaved ice to extend just above the rim, if necessary.
Repeat with the remaining shells, ice and milks.
Top with a scoop of mango ice cream and scatter with the toasted rice flakes. Serve with a big spoon for people to mix everything together.