I know what you are thinking. “Um…this is not a cake.” I kinda agree. These are more like bars to me. But not anytime while I was growing up did I hear anyone call them bars. It’s always been called cassava cake. I was tempted to call them “cassava bars” here. But I feel I need to keep things…authentic. Like someone might ask to see my Asian/Pacific Islander card, and check the validity of it. Ha!
If one does an internet search for Cassava Cake, one would find that there are a ton of different recipes, some with many ingredients, others with just a few. Some are quite rich, enriched with eggs and dairy. Some are more cake-like, but many have a more pudding-like, or bar-like consistency. And many with coconut of some sort.
Cassava is known as Yucca in Latin American countries; it is tapioca root. It needs to be cooked adequately, otherwise it could lead to health issues if eaten raw or undercooked.
As far as macapuno, I’ve never bothered to look it up, but as a kid, understood what it was all about almost immediately–it’s coconut that is soft, stringy, in a sweet syrup, and it tastes great! What else was there to know? Here’s a more scientific explanation of what it actually is: macapuno. Doesn’t macapuno sound a lot more appetizing than gelatinous mutant coconut?
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t always like these types of cakes. In fact, one time, as an altar boy participating in a neighborhood Christmas caroling stint, we got invited to this one house, where they offered a slice of something very similar to this, and one of the nuns accompanying us said that I need to eat it, otherwise the family would be offended. So I took a bite…and ended up barfing all over their living room!
I thought I’d never get over the texture and mouth feel, but little by little (not that day; more like years!), I came to enjoy these types of snacks and desserts that are more gelatinous and less like fluffy, light cakes.
As you get older you start to enjoy tastes that bring you back to your childhood, at least for me. This is definitely one of them for me. It was a common thing to serve during holidays, especially around Christmas.
These “bars” are slightly chewy, fairly sturdy, but with a slight crunchiness on the edges. Also, not overly sweet. Unless you go with a different recipe that adds a lot of extras. But I really like the one-bowl-three-ingredients simplicity of this.
With just three ingredients and no mixer or beater needed, it just doesn’t get any easier than this, whatever you decide to call them. Seriously. I hope you enjoy!
Cassava Cake with Macapuno
1 pound container grated cassava (thawed)
1 (12 ounce) jar of macapuno (gelatinous mutant coconut in syrup)
3/4 cup of evaporated milk (You can also use coconut milk to make it vegan. The color might be a little different, and more coconut flavor. Why didn’t I used coconut milk? I was out, but I had a can of evaporated milk that needed to be used!)
Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a bowl, mix with a spoon the cassava with half of the jar of macapuno, and all the evaporated milk.
Pour into pan and bake for about 40 minutes, then pour the remaining half of the macapuno, and put back in oven to bake for another 40 minutes.
Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. I cut these into 2-inch squares, but you can go with any size you desire.