My mom swears that you can find the best matamis na baococonut jam — in Antipolo.   The town is not too far from Manila, where I grew up.   An hour or an hour and a half trip, if I remember correctly.   It sits on the slopes of a long mountain range so it is a bit cooler compared to Manila and the views of the city are breathtaking.  More so at night when the sky gets illuminated by city lights.

I remember our summer excursions to Antipolo when I was little.  The swarms of vendors around the old cathedral in the center of town.  Women with their children in the square wrapping sticky rice cakes fastidiously with long, young palm leaves.  The scent of fresh mangoes ripening in flimsy bamboo crates and the smell of toasted cashew nuts in tiny brown paper bags.  We would go to church in the morning, picnic in the afternoon, and happily take a bagful of mangoes and rice cakes home along with a few jars of coconut jam. We would spread the thick, deep-brown jam over the rice cakes for merienda and then enjoy the leftover cakes with slices of buttery mangoes for breakfast the following day.

You will never find coconut jam better than what you can get in Antipolo, my mom would always say.  I’ve always trusted her taste in food. The mangoes from Antipolo are sweet but the ones from Zambales are sweeter, I remember her say. Mothers know best, right? And so I can’t wait for her to try my own coconut jam and to hear what she thinks of it when she visits us soon.  Yes, she will be flying to San Francisco in a little over a week and we — Dennis and I plus Stanford included (extra walks for the little guy!) — are very excited. It will be a longer visit this time, longer than her last one two years ago, so there will be plenty of time to catch up on recipes and stories. And I’m sure stories about those Antipolo picnics from long ago will pop up somewhere, sometime.


Ice Cream with Coconut Jam


Vanilla Ice Cream with Coconut Jam and Toasted Coconut Milk Crumbs

Spoon coconut jam into a small glass or glass container and place the glass container in a hot water bath — hot water in a bigger pan or bowl.  Stir the jam and let it warm up until it becomes thin as a sauce.  Spoon the jam into bowls, lay a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, and sprinkle with toasted coconut milk crumbs.


Matamis na Bao — Coconut Jam Recipe
2 large 15-ounce cans coconut milk
8 ounces muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons pandan juice extract

Bring the coconut milk, muscovado sugar, and pandan extract to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as the milk starts to vigorously boil, quickly reduce the heat and let it simmer over medium-to-low heat while stirring frequently. The sweetened milk will slowly thicken and its color will gradually darken into deep chocolate brown. The jam is ready when a spoonful firms up when cool.

Pour the jam into clean glass jars and seal. Coconut jam will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Latik — Toasted Coconut Milk Crumbs Recipe
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

Bring coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan and simmer gently over low heat while stirring frequently. Continue to simmer until the milk reduces to a thick cream, about an hour. Continue heating and stirring until the cream separates into coconut oil and latik. Turn the heat off as soon as the crumbs turn a deep caramel brown color. Drain the coconut oil, which can be used for sautéing and baking. Latik will keep for a week stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.