Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that looks like a stretched-out yam. Cassava is known under a variety of names, including manioc, yuca, and Brazilian arrowroot. Drying and grinding cassava into powder results in tapioca, used in tapioca pudding and bubble tea . Cassava is a staple food for much of the developing world. In the Philippines, cassava is the main ingredient in the rich, sweet, and decadent dessert known as cassava cake.
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Step 1: Gather Ingredients
To make cassava cake, you need the following ingredients:
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can of evaporated milk
- 1 can of coconut cream
- 6 oz macapuno (or half a jar)
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 lb of grated cassava
Condensed milk and evaporated milk can both be found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store. You may also find coconut cream in the ethnic section, though if coconut cream is unavailable, you may use coconut milk .
Macapuno will require a trip to your local Asian grocery store. Macapuno is a special, mutated form of coconut with a softer, more jelly-like flesh than your average coconut. Macapuno usually sold in shredded form in jars. Filipinos use macapuno in a variety of candies and desserts, including ice cream.
Cassava can be found fresh or pre-processed. Using fresh cassava can be a bit of a hassle, as the tubers must be peeled, cut, and then finely grated to avoid hard chunks of cassava in your cassava cake. For this reason, I use frozen pre-grated cassava, found in 1lb packages in Asian grocery stores. These must be thawed out before cooking.
WARNING: Raw cassava is toxic and causes cyanide poisoning. Please follow the instructions carefully to ensure the cassava is fully cooked.
Step 2: Preheat the Oven and Prepare the Cassava
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and place the rack in the center to ensure even baking
If you’re using fresh cassava, you must peel them using a sharp, sturdy knife. The cassava’s skin is very thick, and is usually covered in wax to prevent spoilage, so a vegetable peeler won’t work. The safest way is to first cut off the ends of the cassava, and then cut them crosswise into two or three round pieces. Stand the pieces up on their flat ends and cut away the skin from top to bottom. Then, grate the pieces with a fine cheese grater. You may also cut them smaller and blend them in a food processor.
If you’re using frozen grated cassava, all you need to do here is thaw it. A few minutes under running water in the sink will do the job, or simply leave the bag on the counter for an hour or two.
Step 3: Prepare the Batter.
Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Once the eggs are fully beaten, whisk in the sugar a little bit at a time. Then, add the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and coconut cream to the bowl and mix thoroughly until the batter is at a smooth, creamy consistency, somewhat resembling egg-nog. The condensed milk and coconut cream are both very thick, so you will need use a spoon or whisk to get all of the liquid out.
Once mixed, set aside one cup of the mixture to use as the topping. The empty evaporated milk can works well for this purpose.
Then add the cassava to the batter and mix well. The cassava batter will look more like pancake batter once mixed. Then add half the jar of macapuno and mix well. You can use the entire jar if you don’t want the macapuno sitting in your fridge, but this will result in a very sweet cassava cake.
Step 4: Bake!
Pour the cassava cake batter into a casserole dish and place the dish into the oven. Bake until the top of the cake is dry, or about 30-40 minutes.
Step 5: Add the Topping.
Once the top is dry, pour the topping onto the cake.
Pour slowly and evenly to ensure the entire cake is covered in topping. Then continue to bake until the topping is a light golden brown, or about 30-40 minutes.
Step 6: Cool, Cut, and Serve
Once the cake is done, remove the oven and allow to cool, uncovered, on the counter for at least 3 hours to cool completely. Once cool, cut the cake into rectangular pieces and enjoy! Wrap up any leftovers in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.