This Creamy Cheesecake Is Inspired By The Flavors Of Bibingka

It's never "too early" for a festive bibingka.

If there's a food we commonly associate with Christmas, it's bibingka. We look for it as soon as the Simbang Gabi ends, meticulously pick the ones with the most salted egg topping, and ask for an extra slather of butter just because. As much as we love bibingka in its simplest form, we also welcome bibingka when it is turned into an irresistible cheesecake.

Ted's Kitchen's Maria Angela "Gel" Salonga-Datu is a 34-year old baker who proves that it's never too late to discover a new passion. Before she pursued her love for baking, she was a Regional Trader for Nestle Treasury Center in Singapore for five years and she took on different Finance-related positions for ING Bank NV and Philip Morris. It was only in 2012 that she learned the fundamentals of cooking through her mom and took different short baking courses. This eventually led to the bibingka-meets-cheesecake dessert.

The cheesecake base is made with a combination of kesong puti, cream cheese, and coconut cream.
Photo by Bea Faicol
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One of her delicious creations is the Santa Cruz Bibingka Cheesecake (P1,300). The cheesecake itself is not your run-of-the-mill cheesecake. It's made with a combination of kesong puti, cream cheese, and coconut cream. The rich coconut flavor is a delicious contrast to the slices of salted duck eggs that beautifully top the cheesecake. There's also an added sweetness from the crust and a bit of texture with the desiccated coconut pressed on the sides.

She created this cheesecake with kesong puti and coconut, which are famous products from Santa Cruz, Laguna.
Photo by Bea Faicol
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The Santa Cruz Bibingka is named after Gel's hometown, Santa Cruz, Laguna. She created this cheesecake with kesong puti and coconut, which are famous products from Santa Cruz, Laguna. According to Gel, "Kesong Puti is our town's most popular product and coconuts are abundant and widely used in Laguna cooking." Gel also utilizes popular products from neighboring towns like Victoria, Laguna. She says, "Victoria is known for their duck industry, so the best salted duck eggs can be found there."

Gel's Santa Cruz Bibingka serves as a delicious reminder that bibingka, albeit delicious as it is, can equally be appreciated in a different light. Sure, it doesn't look familiar, but the flavors are enough to make you jolly, merry, and bright.

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