20 Desserts Helping Me Get Through This Fucking Pandemic

best desserts in manila
Let’s skip the long intro, shall we? If you live in the Philippines (or Manila, at least), you can totally relate to the title, and so …. here are 20 sweet "lockdown" discoveries that have been giving me so much life and orgasms since 2020.

(This list will be continuously updated.)


1 | Chunks n' Chews’ Basque Burnt Cheesecake

UPDATE: they are temporarily closed.

best desserts in manila

When two people who have traveled the world eating great food start to create their own thing, YOU WOULD WANT TO TRY IT. Well, I had the privilege of doing so when my friends JB and Renee from Will Fly for Food sent me their version of Basque Burnt Cheesecake. Suffice it to say that glasses were broken, wooden planks were hurled away, and people nearby were slapped because I fucking love this cheesecake. It has pops of umm, surprises, that gives each bite an oomph that most desserts lack. Renee bakes everything herself, and you may try her creations by ordering via @chunksnchews, where they offer other delicious stuff like Rosies (chocolate chip cookies), Henries (pecan shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling) and Bon-Bons (Japanese style mushi cakes). Get the Box of Joy to sample them all!

Instagram: @chunksnchews

2 | Etxeko Manila's Cheesecakes

This quarantine might become a little depressing sometimes, but then a really good dessert comes and brings you out of your stupor—such as Etxeko Manila’s Basque Burnt Cheesecake. It’s perfect, put bluntly. There’s a black, cracked, burnt top that reveals a crustless cheesecake: soft, creamy, rich, melty. The burnt top lends the cake a subtle caramel flavor. And though I have tried other versions that have more melted insides (I love), I still find the flavor of Etxeko’s to be superior. It's something you will crave for repeatedly once you taste it. The Fruit and Nut Cheesecake (shown in photo) comes as a really close second; loaded with almonds, pistachios, walnuts, dates, figs, and truffle essence, every bite is just decadent.

Instagram: @etxeko.manila

3 | Everything from 22 Grams Patisserie

If you haven’t tried this homebased patisserie until now, major life reassessments need to take place. Seriously. Fans of unique flavor combinations and elaborate cakes can’t go wrong with chef Dave Cervantes’ creations. A single look at 22 Grams’ Instagram page tells you that each cake is no ordinary cake—it is a meticulous, detail-oriented labor of love

The Earl Grey Midnight Cake is not just a dessert, but an experience. A creamy, luscious layer of caramel and chocolate greets you, then makes way for a burst of tartness from a sheet of citrus curd, punctuated by bitter roasted cacao nibs. The Kafe Dua takes you to Saigon with its coconut and Vietnamese coffee flavors. I haven't found Vietnamese coffee in Manila that I'm crazy for, but this cake is a successful rendition. Watch out for seasonal Petit Gateau sets (I have tried both the summer and the Christmas ones—both mindblowing)! Believe me, I have ordered everything except one from 22 Grams’ menu.

Instagram: @22grams.mnl

4 | Gourmei's Olive Oil Cakes

UPDATE: they are temporarily closed.

best desserts in manila
I can’t even begin to tell you how obsessed I am with Gourmei’s olive oil cakes. Yes, that’s right—olive oil. You might be put off at first, but I swear, when I first had a taste of this kind of cake from a chef friend, I couldn’t ever forget it. Thanks to Gourmei it is now easier to get some! They currently offer 3 flavors: Classic, made with a variety of citrus fruits; Love, a delicate creation using rose water and strawberry; and Les Xocolat, which lovers of dark chocolate would truly appreciate! My personal favorite is the Classic, as each bite gives you an explosion of citrus flavors punctuated by a nice sweetness from powdered sugar, but the Love Cake is a close second—I’m a sucker for floral notes!

Instagram: @_gourmei_

5 | Bakes by Maria's Mango Vanilla Cake

I love fancy cakes and I cannot lie, and it’s amazing how it’s now possible to enjoy hotel-style, fine-dining level creations right at home—thanks to home bakers. Enter Bakes by Maria and this gorgeous Mango Vanilla Cake. With puff pastry layers that are super delicate, you must have the gentlest hands when slicing it. This cake just screams deliciousness, the kind that sticks to mind for a while. I love fruits on desserts since they tend to balance the overall sweetness. In this case, I don't mind the deluge of that luscious vanilla cream as well. UGH.

Instagram: @bakes_by_maria

6 | Brownbaggins' Lovingly Full of Pecan Cake

best desserts in manila

Even since I tasted the glorious pecan pies (and ice creams, oh my goodness!) in Texas, I've been craving for a good pecan dessert in Manila. Well, this Lovingly Full of Pecan Cake by Brownbagginsph is lovingly full indeed—and it did not fall short of my expectations. I love the mound of chopped nuts on top of the cake and in the sweet streusel layer in the middle. If you think all cakes are equally perfect with coffee, this might change your mind—pecan cakes are the most perfectest! I also loved their Vanilla Angel Cake (I believe they are currently the first to offer angel food cakes in Manila), which we finished in one sitting, but my personal favorite has got to be the pecan.

Instagram: @brownbagginsph

7 | Grand Hyatt Manila's Strawberry Cheesecake

best desserts in manila
For my first lockdown birthday, I got a cake from Grand Hyatt Manila—and it did not disappoint. If you love strawberries like me, you’ve got to try this cheesecake. The topping is a hefty, boastful cluster of fresh, plump, and sweet strawberries. The cheesecake itself? So addicting! Together with the crust, it has just the perfect sweetness. Birthday or not, you’ve got to treat yourself or a loved one to this cake!

Side note: I love most of the desserts at Grand Hyatt Manila but some are available only for dine in. If you do get the chance and if you feel safe going out to eat, I recommend The Peak or The Cellar!

Instagram: @grandhyattmanilaph

8 | Wisteria 7242's Fig and Queso de Bola Cheesecake

best desserts in manila
Queso de Bola and figs? Hell yeah!!! In fact, please throw all cakes using this flavor combination to my direction. Wisteria 7242 masterfully combines the sweetness of fresh figs and the saltiness of queso de bola in this solid dessert. I almost squeal with joy every time I bite into a piece of fig, LOL! I love how the fruit is incorporated into the cake, instead of simply being on the toppings. However it’s a rather heavy cake—luckily, a small slice would be enough to satiate your sweet cravings.

Instagram: @wisteria7242


9 | The Tummy Train

My favorite cookies are not for sale anywhere, and they are made by my friend and blogging idol, Clarisse of The Tummy Train. Unfortunately for you, I don’t know how you could relate to what I’m about to tell you. She once baked Levain-style cookies for me because I was being whiny and needy—they were incredible, and caused a feud in the household. I requested again, this time to recreate Doubletree’s famous cookies; the result was something better (like 10 times) than the original. She made some espresso and cream cheese cookies another time because she was “experimenting”—and I told her not to publish the recipes because THEY WERE SO FUCKING GOOD, THEY SHOULD BE TOP SECRET. If you watch her baking videos, you know that this woman can make absolutely anything.

Instagram: @thetummytrain

10 | Sweetsmith MNL

best desserts in manila
You know you truly love a cookie when you think about it every time you crave for some. In my case, it’s Sweetsmith’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie. I tend to gravitate towards dark chocolate things most of the time, but this one is just so irresistible. There’s a perfect balance of crunch and softness, of batter and chocolate chips—perhaps the use of four different kinds of chocolate contributed to that perfect experience of just wanting to bite endlessly! The Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, and Nutella are super good too, as well as the Cereal Milk which, although a bit too sweet for me, was definitely intriguing.

Instagram: @sweetsmithmnl

11 | MailChip

best desserts in manila

When I was younger, an orange and chocolate combo was something I never would dream of touching, but now it’s actually one of my favorites. If you want to fall in love too, order some of MailChip’s Orange Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies! The first bite is such an intense surprise: you are greeted with a delightful bitterness from Auro chocolate, followed by a bright pop of citrus and saltiness from Maldon flakes. Soon, they will all wrestle in your tongue amidst the chewiness and the crispness of the cookie. The combination makes it a cookie that’s so easy to finish—and before you know it, you have gnawed away at your whole stash.

Instagram: @mailchip

12 | A2 Manila

best desserts in manila
If you’re a fan of dark chocolate cookies, you’ve got to try A2 Manila’s Double C cookies. I love how irregularly shaped, chunky, and huge their cookies are—as if the baker just went ahead and slapped in as much chocolate as she wanted. For something less sweet, get the Triple C which provides more texture, making it a cookie that’s easier to finish. However, the biggest surprise for me was the Oreo Blast! I fucking hate Oreo desserts—but this one had me finishing half the cookie in one sitting! Great mix of textures and flavors! While I'm at it, you might want to try their Chunkies (super chunky, glorious, delicious brownies) and Decadent Chocolate Cake, which you would mop up in seconds.

Instagram: @a2manila

13 | Almost.PH

best desserts in manila

If you follow me on social media, you would know that I love cheese—and so, Almost.PH’s Blue Cheese Cookies were something I couldn’t NOT try. They were wonderful! The cookies are small and thin, which makes it perfect for swallowing whole. LOL! I just low how the blue cheese and white chocolate explodes and melts in your mouth together when you bite the cookie. Heavenly! If you're afraid that the blue cheese would be too salty—not it's not. I wish this seller was much nearer my house (they are based in Paranaque).

Instagram: @almost.ph


14 | Kurimu

Just when you thought you have found the creamiest ice cream ever in Manila, here comes Kurimu, intent at proving you all wrong. Sure, most of Kurimu fans are raving at the ice cream’s fabulous texture (I am too), but what I’m more impressed with is the brand’s audacity to give us authentic tastes of things we have experienced somewhere. Kurimu specializes in Japanese-inspired ice creams (already a winner in my book) and some of my favorites include the Shoyu Caramel, with its salty and sweet fusion, done with finesse; the Matcha, which raised the bar so high that it’s hard for me to appreciate anything else now; and the vegan Nama Chocolate, with its intense chocolate and coffee flavors.

Some of the flavors I’ve tried are sweeter than what I normally like, but I still admire the inventiveness behind them. The Yuzu Toasted Rice, for instance, combines Japanese citrus with sweet toasted rice, while the Strawberry Glow infuses the fruit with collagen—in fact, it’s the first ever collagen ice cream in the country. Kurimu: complex, amazing ice cream concealed in a simple, elegant packaging.

Instagram: @kurimu.ph

15 | Butterboy Bakehouse

Croissant sellers are popping out left and right, but nobody does it like Butterboy—another home-based baker. I’ve been avoiding this seller for quite a while because I thought everybody was just hyping it up (you know how social media can be sometimes), but I was happy to have finally succumbed. It’s also a bit strange that a home seller could set the standards for you for a specific item—a cake, a croissant—but Butterboy does in the flaky department; it puts some hotels and restaurants to shame.

What to try? I suggest just order everything. LOL! But seriously, the pastries are reasonably priced, it’s not impossible to buy them all, hahaha (I haven’t though). I loved the Raspberry Cream Cheese Croissant, Pistachio Cube Croissant, Pain au Chocolat, and Almond Croissant.

Instagram: @butterboyph

16 | 15 and Madison's Tiramisu

best desserts in manila
I love it when a product aims to stay true to its roots—or if not this, to be an ode to a delicious experience obtained somewhere. Such is the case of 15 and Madison’s tiramisu, a luscious creation that sings love songs for Italy. Hell, it sang love songs for me! The light and delicate dessert has just the right touch of coffee, a deluge of Italian mascarpone, and a heap of chocolate shavings on top. Keeping it in the fridge longer (if you can resist eating it in one sitting) results in a stronger coffee profile, I noticed—LOVE!! Tiramisu literally means “pick me up” and this version certainly does that. It is 100% happy food.

Instagram: @15andmadison

17 | Tigre y Oliva

Dessert buffets consisting of purely local chocolate should be a thing, agree? We have such great cacao locally, and it's amazing that brands like Tigre y Oliva are working hard to make people appreciate them more.

I'm such a big fan of Tigre Y Oliva's Pili Chocolate Bars (which have fish sauce caramel) and never knew that they had these other amazing goodies as well! My favorites are the Sneaky Bars, consisting of housemade peanut butter; it's their take on Snickers, Butterfinger, and Reese's all in one! The Dark Chocolate Cookies are fragrant and incredible, and they highlight their beautiful chocolate. Can't wait to try more products—I heard Dulce Gatas Bombs are... BOMB?

Instagram: @tigreyoliva

18 | Fill's Alchee Pudding and Faux Twix Polvoron

I’d like to talk about Fill other than their pretty packaging. Everyone raves about that aspect, and it definitely can’t be denied—but I just want to highlight that their creations are delicious. I mean, taste should be more important than looks, right?!? Along with their lineup of drinks (I’m obsessed with their Masala Chai Latte), they offer puddings that are perfect for ending any meal. My personal favorite is the Alchee (almond and lychee), which has chunks of almond jelly and a “magic” sprinkle. It's so good I've never been able to take a photo of it, hahaha! The Vanana (vanilla banana, photo above) and Milo Nananut (Milo, banana, and Chocnut) are pretty amazing too. Their recent creation, the Faux Twix Polvoron, made of brown butter almond polvoron, caramel fudge, and 55% dark chocolate, had me shouting in languages I don't know.

Instagram: @fill.phil

19 | I Make Lemon Bars' Lemon Bars

best desserts in manila
If you’re a lover of citrus desserts and you haven’t tried I Make Lemon Bars, you should be ashamed of yourself. The packaging says these lemon bars are best consumed chilled, but there was no way I’m waiting that long (I’ve waited for delivery long enough). The lemon flavor is intense—you will find your face crumpling like it typically would when you eat something sour, but this is immediately followed by an orgasm, and then you would want to have another one again. It helps that there’s just the right touch of sweetness to keep you going too. My one-line review: these are bits of sunshine in bar form.

Instagram: @imakelemonbars

20 | Salta To-Go's Strawberry Sticky Pan Roll

best desserts in manila
In case you haven’t noticed yet, I love strawberries. And also, I’m a fan of Salta—from their signature Crabonara to their ECQ-born mini-panaderya brand. But while I’m hooked on their Pesto Pan Rolls (and also because this is a dessert listicle, LOL), their latest product, the Strawberry Sticky Pan Roll, is just so fucking good! Their breads are always on point, so imagine those topped with fresh berries, honey caramel, and toasted almonds—the result takes you back and forth to crunch and sweetness to some tartness and pillowy softness. It’s the bomb (dot com).

Instagram: @saltatogo

Are your favorites in the list? Got any more desserts to recommend?

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