Try 5: Five places to try ube desserts in metro Atlanta

Ube cake from Bakey Bakes. / Courtesy of Bakey Bakes
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Ube cake from Bakey Bakes. / Courtesy of Bakey Bakes

It’s the color that’ll likely grab your attention first if you’ve never tried a dessert made with ube before.

The bright, highly Instagrammable purple of the cakes, pop tarts and other sweets that have increasingly shown up on the menus of a number of metro Atlanta bakeries and pop-ups comes from the ube yam native to the Philippines.

With mellow, nutty vanilla notes, ube is pleasing to both the palate and the eye. Here are five metro Atlanta spots to find treats with Filipino flavors.

ExploreRecipes: At home with Filipino flavors
Ube whoopie pie from Baker's Hatt. (Courtesy of Baker's Hatt)
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Ube whoopie pie from Baker's Hatt. (Courtesy of Baker's Hatt)

Baker’s Hatt. Started as a side gig during the pandemic, Baker’s Hatt was born out of Barbara Hattrich’s desire to turn her love of baking into a business while also introducing people to Filipino flavors.

She came up with the idea for ube whoopie pies after a visit a few years ago to Maine, where the marshmallow-filled desserts are ubiquitous.

“The first time I had one, I thought, ‘This is really good, but it’s so sweet,’” Hattrich said. “For Filipinos, we like desserts, but not too-too sweet.”

To tamp down on the sweetness of the filling, she makes her own ube jam — known as halaya — with grated ube brought to her by friends and family when they’re visiting from Florida.

Hattrich, a native of the Philippines who moved to the United States as a child, said she relies on her family to taste test her creations.

“When they say it’s good, that’s when I release it to the public,” she said.

In addition to her whoopie pies, Hattrich makes ube cakes, two-bite tarts, Bundt cake and sylvana bites.

Orders can be placed through the Baker’s Hatt Instagram account for pickup in Smyrna. Hattrich also does occasional pop-ups and collaborations; you can find her next at the Bite of Korea Block Party June 27 at A Mano in Old Fourth Ward.

instagram.com/bakers_hatt/

ExploreMeet the owners and chefs behind three Filipino restaurants in metro Atlanta
Ube cake from Bakey Bakes. (Courtesy of Bakey Bakes)
Caption
Ube cake from Bakey Bakes. (Courtesy of Bakey Bakes)

Bakey Bakes. Larissa Neto is of Portuguese descent, but she’s been experimenting with flavors from different cuisines for as long as she can remember.

Inspired by her travels and encouragement from Filipino friends, she began using ube in some of her desserts. Years later, she’s developed a following for her ube layer cakes and cookies (among other types of custom cakes and creations).

“It feels really great to be doing something right and to be honoring this flavor that is so huge (in the Filipino) culture,” Neto said.

Ube layer cakes can be paired with several different flavors, including matcha for an extra hit of color and coconut for a more tropical vibe. Matcha provides an extra shot of color to go along with the ube purple, and the acidity of the matcha complements the nuttiness of the ube. Other popular options include ube cake with coconut cream cheese frosting, as well as a completely ube-flavored cake.

Order Neto’s sweet treats via the Bakey Bakes website, with pickup in Ormewood Park.

bakeybakes.com/

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Ube flan from Kamayan ATL. (Courtesy of Kamayan ATL)
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Ube flan from Kamayan ATL. (Courtesy of Kamayan ATL)

Kamayan ATL. Amor Mia Oriño grew up in Manila and moved to the U.S. to attend graduate school. She launched Filipino pop-up and catering business Kamayan ATL with her fiance Carlo Gan in 2018.

Her parents and grandmother “made sure I understood where food came from, the people who grow it,” she said. The family grew their own produce, including taro, ube and ong choy, and would make ube halaya, the ube jam that’s the base ingredient of most ube desserts, from scratch.

Oriño applies that respect for ingredients to both the sweet and savory food she cooks and serves now at pop-ups, through her website and at a stall at the Pratt-Pullman District mixed-use development.

Though she’s taken a step back from making some ube desserts to put a spotlight on other Filipino bakers, she still offers several ube treats, including a popular ube flan cake that marries ube and the traditionally Mexican custard sweet, known as leche flan in the Philippines.

Also in Kamayan’s rotation are ube pastillas, ube white chocolate-dipped dried fruit, ube oat milk, ube churros and ube puto (steamed vegan gluten-free rice cakes), with future plans to ship nationwide.

In the meantime, “we’re working on some more ube products, not because it’s trendy right now but because it’s in our DNA,” Oriño said.

678-938-3584, kamayanatl.com/

Ube cream puffs from Syndesi Desserts. (Courtesy of Syndesi Desserts)
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Ube cream puffs from Syndesi Desserts. (Courtesy of Syndesi Desserts)

Syndesi Desserts. Vy Howard technically launched her home bakery in 2016 while living in Kentucky, but really gained a following for her cakes and other baked goods when she moved back to Georgia in 2018. The self-taught baker, who was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a child, was inspired by her friend Amor Mia Oriño of Kamayan ATL to incorporate ube into some of her desserts.

“The thought behind all my desserts is, how do I take something I personally love and add a modern, aesthetically pleasing touch to it, and make sure it tastes good?” Howard said.

To that end, she thought one of her favorite treats, the cream puff, would be a perfect vehicle for showcasing ube.

The puff sees a “light, fluffy” ube pastry cream enveloped by a choux pastry shell, which is finished with an ube craquelin topping and a dusting of iridescent edible glitter.

The crunch of the topping and the smoothness of the filling “create a contrast in textures,” Howard said.

In addition to cream puffs, Syndesi also offers ube macarons, cupcakes and cakes. Orders can be placed through the bakery’s website with pickup at Howard’s facility in Lilburn. She also plans to get back to doing pop-ups and collaborations with other food business operators in the coming months.

syndesidesserts.com/

Ube pop tarts from Three Lolas Bakeshop. (Courtesy of Three Lolas Bakeshop)
Caption
Ube pop tarts from Three Lolas Bakeshop. (Courtesy of Three Lolas Bakeshop)

Three Lolas Bakeshop. Jen Almanza had been baking for a while as a hobby and for special occasions, but it wasn’t until summer 2020 that she decided to turn her passion into a business.

Three Lolas Bakeshop — “lola” means “grandmother” in Tagalog, a nod to the memories Almanza has of baking with her grandmother — provides her with a way to introduce people to the dishes she grew up with in the Philippines (her family immigrated to the United States when she was 10).

“It’s a small thing I wanted to do, and I’m lucky enough that people are curious and interested in the things I’ve been making,” she said.

She points out that you’ll see slight regional differences in the way ube dishes are prepared throughout the Philippines. The ube dessert she associates with her youth is the halaya jam, served in a tin pan and solid enough to eat by the slice.

When developing recipes for her own desserts, she thought about ways of incorporating ube that would also resonate with people who weren’t familiar with the ingredient and would also allow her to indulge in her creative side.

A Pop-Tart fan, Almanza saw an opportunity to use the bright ube halaya filling in the breakfast treat, along with ube icing.

She also offers ube and rosas cookies made with rosewater and has done ube blondies and cookies as well as an ube and rose Bundt cake.

A baon box, a traditional Filipino box that she’ll fill with the different ube treats she makes, is in the works.

Almanza’s desserts can be ordered via direct message through Three Lolas’ Instagram account (orders can be picked up at a location in East Atlanta) or at occasional collaborations with other Filipino food businesses around town.

instagram.com/threelolasbakeshop

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