Christmas is just at our doorsteps and every Filipino household is diligently listing their Filipino dishes and planning their Filipino recipes to serve at their Noche Buena feast. Christmas is no joke in the Philippines with every host taking the Filipino foods that they serve to their guests coming from all over the country and even abroad very seriously.
Of course, all the classic Christmas servings are there including lechon, kakanin, palabok, Filipino style spaghetti, lumpia, mechado, and many more. And of course, we can’t forget the much-loved desserts like buko pandan, fruit salad, and let’s not forget the delicious and quite fancy Graham Crema de Fruta.
Crema de Fruta is one of the few Filipino cake recipes out there as the Philippines isn’t really that known for its native cake recipes. The closest is probably the many kakanin varieties also known as rice cake delicacies but for those who tried kakanin, many will agree that they’re not really cakes in the traditional sense.
Crema de Fruta checks all the boxes for a cake recipe as it incorporates layers of fluffy sponge cake intersected with a mixture of whip cream, condensed milk, and gelatine, and topped off with various chunks of tropical fruits including mangoes, pineapples, and many more. People can get creative with toppings.
The choice of fruits really showcased popular Philippine products and makes the cake distinctly Filipino, in my opinion. Crema de Fruta isn’t an everyday treat for dessert as it’s mostly reserved for special occasions but it receives a surge in popularity during the holiday seasons. Every bite is deliciously creamy and refreshing with the sponge cake, the whipped cream mixture, and the chunks of fruits from a can of fruit cocktail.
Rarely do I ever see Crema de Fruta served homemade during feasts as most Filipino prefer to purchase them from local bakeries. Currently, there is a rise of popularity on a variant of the Crema de Fruta cake called Graham Crema de Fruta which is a no bale version. This, I saw is typically made at home, which, I think, contributes to its popularity.
Graham Crema de Fruta, unlike the more traditional Crema de Fruta, doesn’t require an oven to make it, which makes it quite easy to do at home as the average Filipino kitchen doesn’t have an oven. Rather than making a sponge cake for its base, Graham Crema de Fruta uses graham crackers instead of cake’s other ingredients and left overnight in the fridge to harden.
It’s just as delicious as the original Crema de Fruta recipe and will fit right in the table for the Noche Buena feast. The Graham Crema de Fruta recipe also brought forth another variant of the recipe called crema de manga or mango float.
Growing up, we always had the sponge variety of Crema de Fruta but this year for Christmas, I volunteered to supply the desserts for the feast, including the Crema de Fruta. Since my family isn’t really that picky with which variety of the cake we can serve, I took it upon myself to create a homemade Graham Crema de Fruta to contribute to the table.
So I scoured the internet for the Graham Crema de Fruta I can follow came across this that’s quite easy to execute. This may need a little patience from the cook so I suggest listening to music or put on a TV show in the background. Better yet, get a little helper in the form of a friend, a little family member, or your partner. This makes for a great bonding moment.
First thing’s first, we need the ingredients to make the cake which we can get from any local store or market. We’ll need a large can of 550 g of fruit cocktail that should be drained and have its juice reserved, 2 packs of 200 grams graham crackers, 2 packs of either whipping cream or all-purpose cream, 1 can of 200 ml of condensed milk, and 1 pouch of unflavored gelatin powder.
The last ingredient is optional but I always love gelatin in my crema de fruta because I always feel that it provides a lighter texture to the dessert.
Now that we have the ingredients, it’s to create the delicious, Graham Crema de Fruta.
For those who want to include gelatin in the dessert, the first step that I suggest is to create the gelatin first so when the cake is done, you can easily cut the gelatin into chunks and make it a topping on the graham crema de fruta afterward.
For this step, we need to dissolve the gelatin powder into cold water then let it simmer on medium heat. Add the fruit cocktail syrup that we set aside for some extra flavor. Stir it occasionally until the mixture is boiling, then let it cool in the fridge for it to thicken.
Once that’s done, we can now start on the main recipe. In a mixing bowl, pour the heavy whipping cream and condensed milk and whisk them well until they’re combined.
Next, in a large container or tray, arrange the graham crackers for the first layer and spread that layer with the cream mixture and a layer of fruit cocktail. Repeat the process until you have the desired number of layers or until your container is full. The last layer should be the fruit cocktail.
Once that’s done, get the gelatin out of the fridge, cut it into chunks, and place as toppings in the container. Put it into the fridge overnight to chill, and serve for the Noche Buena the next day.
Graham Crema de Fruta Recipe
- 1 large can 550 g fruit cocktail. Drain and reserve the juice
- 2 packs 200 g graham crackers
- 2 packs whipping cream or all purpose cream
- 1 can 300 ml condensed milk
- 1 pouch unflavored gelatin powder optional
- Pour heavy whipping cream and condensed milk in a mixing bowl. Whisk well until well combined.
- In large square container or tray, arrange graham crackers. Spread and cover them with cream and top with fruit cocktail; reserve the other half can of fruit cocktail for another layer. Repeat the procedure according to layer preferences.
- For additional toppings, dissolved gelatin powder in cold water. Simmer on medium heat, and add the fruit cocktail syrup. Stir occasionally until mixture boils. Let it cool for a few minutes in the fridge until start to thickens. This step is optional, you can make this without gelatin.
- Pour the gelatin mixture over the graham crackers and fruit. Put in fridge, chill and serve. Enjoy!