Yummy Yema: How to Cook This Creamy & Chewy Filipino Dessert

Belle Piccio
Belle Piccio | Aug 05, 2014

Yema; photo from

Yema is a custard candy that Filipinos inherited during the Spanish era.

“Yema” is a Spanish word that means “yolk.” During the Spanish colonial period years, egg whites and egg shells were used to build churches in the Philippines. It was a technique in the olden times to use them as mortar to hold the stone together. And that left an overabundance of egg yolks. Since we Filipinos are accustomed to not letting food fall into waste, Pinoy ingenuity and passion for food came to the fore, giving birth to the recipes that are mainly based on yolks, such as leche flan, yema and more.

Yema; photo from

There are many recipes of yema. Here’s the simplest yema recipe, the classic one:

  • 6 egg yolks

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • 1/2 kilo white sugar

  1. In a frying pan or pot, mix the egg yolks, condensed milk, and vanilla until well blended.

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat to prevent the mixture from burning.

  3. Using a metal spatula, stir the milk as if you are scraping the bottom of the pan. Stir constantly.

  4. This must be done continuously to avoid burning the milk and to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  5. The mixture is ready when it forms a ball. Let it cool.

  6. When cool, form the mixture into balls about 2 to 3 cm in diameter.

  7. Place the yema balls on a wide plate with white sugar then roll; once coated, pick up each ball with a toothpick. Set aside to cool.

  8. When cool, wrap the balls in cellophane and twist both ends to secure.

For a special kind of yema dessert, you can experiment and add some ingredients like crushed nuts of your choice and chocolates. You can also coat it with caramelized sugar.

Yema; photo from

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