Cassava Cake with Creamy Custard Topping

Upon touchdown at Ninoy Aquino International Airport whenever I return home to Manila, there is one dessert I instantly dream of and crave – CASSAVA CAKE. With a soft and spongy texture, flavored with coconut and condensed milk and then topped with a creamy custard sauce – my taste buds instantly dance with joy with each bite of this favorite Filipino delicacy. Go to any mall or market anywhere in the Philippines and you’re sure to find cassava cake being offered on sale. We just love this delicious dessert so much!

Cassava, also known as manioc, Brazilian arrowroot, tapioca and often referred to as yucca (though they’re not really the same), is a starchy tuberous root of a tree that grows abundantly in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and South America. It is in fact a staple much like corn and rice in certain countries. This is what a cassava looks like. You can find these already frozen and grated at many Asian stores so it’s very accessible now.  And certainly in the Philippines, you can find the tree all over the place.

While there are many uses for cassava the ultimate favorite would be the Cassava Cake. I’ve had quite a few slices of this delectable treat in the Philippines when I returned home recently and now I miss it so much. Thankfully, a Filipina friend of mine invited me grocery shopping to a huge Asian store in Hartford last week and I was able to grab a packet of this frozen cassava. It was time to make my own version of this yummy cake so I can literally have my cake and eat it, too! 😉

For this version, I added a little ground cardamon which you probably won’t find in any other usual cassava cake recipe but I thought it might work and wow it did! Ever so subtle is the taste but you can tell that a tiny amount of cardamom gives this cake an extra layer of yum. I know it for sure because hubby who normally is not into our puddings and homemade delicacies loved it a lot. And then I gave some of this to my Filipino friends to sample and they called me the next day to say that they really enjoyed this cassava cake. So now this version is fully tried and tested and given the seal of approval. But if you can’t find cardamom, don’t worry it will still come out yummy because the added creamy vanilla custard topping also gives this cake a lot of flavor. Instead of the usual plain condensed milk on top which I used to make for this cake I thought, I’ll improvise and add a thin layer of custard (inspired by our leche flan) on top and then sprinkle some brown sugar to really bring it over the top. So next time you go to an Asian store, grab a packet or 2 of grated cassava (if frozen, simply thaw before using) and make  this! Enjoy!

Cassava Cake with Creamy Custard Topping
By: Manila Spoon
May 9, 2015

With a soft and spongy texture, flavored with coconut and condensed milk and then topped with a creamy vanilla custard sauce – your taste buds will dance with joy with each bite of this favorite Filipino delicacy.

Butter for greasing the pan
1 lb grated Cassava (if frozen, thaw first)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed Milk
1 14 oz can Coconut Milk
2 large Eggs
1/4 – 1/8 teaspoon ground Cardamom (optional but highly recommended)

For the Custard Topping 
1/2 a 14 oz can of condense milk
1/4 cup Half-n-half (Single Cream)
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
1-2 Tablespoons brown Sugar

1.Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a baking dish (9×9 or an 8×11).
2.In a large bowl, whisk together the grated cassava, condensed milk, coconut milk, eggs, and ground cardamom (if using) until well-mixed. Pour into the prepared pan.
3.Bake for 50 minutes or until almost fully set. Remove from the oven and pour the custard sauce on top tilting the pan gently to ensure that the sauce has spread evenly. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the custard has set.
4.Remove the pan from the oven and set the oven to broil. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top. Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes or until the top is nicely golden and caramelized or use a flame torch to achive the same result.
5.Cool completely before slicing. I promise this is a slice of heaven!

Yield       : 12-16 slices
Prep Time   : 5 Minutes
Cooking Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Total Time  : 1 Hour 15 Minutes

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