If you’ve ever wondered what those vibrant, violet desserts seen online or at bakeries are made out of, it is likely ube. Ube is purple yam and is often used in Filipino and Southeast Asian desserts. Ube, pronounced “ooh-beh,” is made into a jam called ube halaya by cooking the starchy vegetable with sugar, coconut milk, condensed milk, and/or evaporated milk until thick and velvety. Ube halaya is then folded into recipes, like this cheesecake, or used to fill pastries.
Yes, the vibrant purple color is all natural! The color lends itself to creating beautiful baked goods and pastries, as does its subtly sweet and mild nutty flavor. Mixed with cream cheese and folded together with whipped cream, this ube cheesecake is smooth and sweet with hints of vanilla. It is similar to adding pumpkin to cheesecake, but with that gorgeous purple color and minus the autumnal spices.
This cheesecake recipe calls for prepared ube halaya. It is available online or found at some asian grocery stores. You can also make ube halaya from scratch. Steam fresh purple yams or look in the frozen section for grated ube. Cook 16 ounces mashed or grated ube with ¾ cup sugar, 1 cup coconut milk, and ½ cup water. Simmer until thickened. Add 2 tablespoons of butter then blend with an immersion blender. Strain with a mesh sieve to make a smooth, thick jam. Cool before using.
Ube Cheesecake Filling
Whipped Cream Topping and Garnish
This recipe requires 4 hours chill time.
Make the cheesecake crust: Using a food processor, pulse digestive biscuits or graham crackers until they break down into a fine crumb. Measure out 2 cups of crumbs and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add the melted butter and sugar then stir until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
Tip half of the crumb mixture into an 8 or 9-inch springform or loose-bottomed pan. Begin pressing the crumbs against the sides of the pan. Tip the remaining crumbs into the bottom and pat down until even.
Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup or small drinking glass to evenly press the crumbs into the sides and bottom of the pan. Chill the crust in the refrigerator as you prepare the filling.
Prepare the ube cheesecake filling: Place the cream cheese and ½ cup sugar in a mixing bowl. Use an electric hand or stand mixer to mix the cream cheese until completely smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix to combine.
Stop the mixer and add the ube halaya and vanilla extract. Use the mixer again to combine until smooth yet fluffy. Set aside.
In a clean, separate bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer and whisk by hand until thickened and the cream holds medium-stiff peaks.
Add half of the whipped cream into the ube mixture and mix to incorporate. Add the remaining whipped cream and fold until thoroughly combined.
Scoop the ube filling into the prepared crust.
Use an offset spatula to spread the filling until smooth on top. Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving.
When ready to serve, whip the remaining heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extra. Again, mix with a stand or hand mixer until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer and finish whisking by hand until medium-stiff peaks form.
To create the spiral, fill a piping bag fitted with a fluted star tip with the whipped cream. Hold the piping bag at a 45° angle and pipe continuous corkscrews around the top edge of the cheesecake. Top with edible flowers, if desired.
Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.