Sapin-sapin ice cream, anyone?

Posted at 03/19/2012 2:13 PM | Updated as of 03/19/2012 4:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Local rice cakes and frozen delights meet as an ice cream maker offers Filipino-inspired flavors such as sapin-sapin, suman and biko.

Ian Carandang, co-owner of Sebastian's artisan ice cream, said these flavors are part of his goal of "representing how good Filipino cuisine really is."

He dreams that someday, the Philippines will be popular for ice cream "in the same way that Italy is popular for its gelato."

"Maybe it's my UP upbringing," Carandang, who is a graduate of state-run University of the Philippines, said in an interview on ANC's "Shop Talk" on Monday. "I get inspiration from all sorts of stuff."

Sapin-sapin is a glutinous rice cake with several colored layers which are sweetened and flavored with coconut milk. Sebastian's ice cream version is very close to the original, replicating even the sapin-sapin's four layers of yellow, white, violet and red.

"It has malagkit (glutinous rice) mixed into it," Carandang said about the ice cream, which is topped with Luzon latik or solid coconut curds.

Mango sorbet and coconut kakanin (rice cake) ice cream, on the other hand, is Sebastian's take on another popular Filipino treat, mangga't suman (mangoes with suman, a rice cake cooked in coconut milk and often steamed in banana leaves).

There is also biko ice cream, which is rice ice cream flavored with latik, filled with latik fudge and topped with latik bits.

"We also have an unreleased flavor called latik ice cream. This is based on the Visayan latik, which is a coconut caramel sauce," Carandang said.

Another rice-inspired ice cream flavor is champorado, a Filipino chocolate porridge usually eaten for breakfast. "The rice bits are there, you can feel it. It's very straightforward," Carandang said about the ice cream.

Sebastian's, which has branches in SM malls, also has ice cream variants such as halo-halo milk (inspired by the milk left over after a person eats the popular frozen dessert), and blue cheese, which is topped with walnuts and drizzled with Palawan honey.

Other products from the store include ice cream sandwiches with homemade cookies and chocolate truffles, and "dive bars," or ice cream bars with ingredients from Nutella cups to chocolate-covered potato chips.

'Pure' ice cream

Paco Magsaysay, meanwhile, sells "pure" ice cream through Carmen's Best, which sources dairy products from their own dairy farm.

The son of former senator Jun Magsaysay said their ice cream uses not only fresh cow's milk, but also fresh cream.

"That's pure ice cream. There's no water in it. Not much air into it. I want to keep it to that level, "Magsaysay said. "For us, we want to use cream and milk from the farm. We're the only home-based ice cream in the country that uses fresh cream."

The ice cream business is named after Magsaysay's only daughter, Carmen. Popular flavors include malted milk, which has Horlicks and Maltesers, salted caramel, and Brazilian coffee.

Marketed as premium ice cream, Carmen's Best has no stalls in malls and other places. Instead, it can be accessed via phone, and the Internet via its website,

A pint costs P350, way more expensive compared to a gallon of mass-produced ice cream.

"Many people have been complaining about the price... We're limited with the cream and milk in the farm, and we can't really sell to a mass market," Magsaysay explained. "I think people who buy from us, they know the quality is different."

But he is still open to the idea of making their products more accessible to the masses. "I think we need to come up with a product with a lower entry level."