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Yema with Calabasa: Caramel Custard Candy with Squash

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You are staring at my Filipino version of the yema candy. Have you ever had vegetable in a candy like these Yema with Calabasa and devoured all 24 candies in one sitting? Have you ever put some squash in your sweets? Have you ever served these squash sweets to any of your family or friends? Raise your hands if you answered ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions.

When my food blogger friend, pastry chef extraordinaire, Jenni Field of the blog  Pastry Chef Online started to round up pumpkin creations for Thanksgiving, I had to throw in my Yema Candy with “kalabasa” which is Pilipino for squash. This particular one is the kabocha squash from the same gourd family as the pumpkin.

My kabocha squash was purchased from the Asian grocery near my neighborhood. In the Philippines, this squash is called “kalabasa“. I use this squash for many Asian vegetable dishes. But not everyone knows you can boil it, and incorporate it in a sweet custard-like mixture. Boil this slowly stove-top in a non-stick pan. In 15 quick minutes you will have  one of the most delightful sweet custard-like candy treats ever. The consistency and texture is thick and almost jam-like, but heavier. Its sweet flavors are almost like dulce de leche, a caramel dessert of Latin American origins. You get the picture now.

You don’t have to bake it. You just boil it till thick. You boil some caramel syrup.  Shape the bright yellow sweet balls. Pour the thick caramel syrup over it. Watch it harden and look like gold right before your eyes. Once it cools, enjoy the heavenly sweetness of custard with caramel on it. Who knew squash in candy could be so decadent?

Yema with Calabasa Caramel Custard Candy with Squash

Yema with Calabasa custard candies are my version of the Filipino favorite yema. 
These custard-like treats coated with caramel are served at parties or large gatherings. This time, I added the kabocha squash (calabasa) to the egg yolks and condensed milk. Adding squash gave the treat bulk and firmness. Make this for the family and wrap in brightly-colored cellophane for a festive dessert. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 4.
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Dessert, Merienda, Snack
Cuisine: American, Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Filipino Yema with Calabasa Custard Candy
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 234kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Small to medium-sized sauce pan


  • 1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
  • 6 whole egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup boiled calabasa (kabocha squash) mashed
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar for caramel syrup


  •     Except for the granulated sugar, blend all the ingredients together. Using a small non-stick saucepan, place the ingredients together and cook over medium heat.
  •     In about 15 to 18 minutes the mixture will start to get thick. Once the spoon is hard to move within the saucepan and the mixture is thick, then it is cooked. The custard will move away from the sides and be mostly at the center of the pan.
  •     Remove from fire and refrigerate thick custard mix for at least 4 hours. After a few hours in the refrigerator, shape yema custard into round one-inch sized balls. Put them on a rack, ready for syrup to be poured.
  • Prepare the caramel syrup when almost ready to incorporate on top of these “yemas”, which means only after 4 hours.
  • How to make the caramel syrup:
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  •  In a small stockpot, boil the sugar , over low- medium heat. After about 7 minutes, the syrup becomes amber-colored, gets thick and sticky.  It will start to bubble.
  •     Have the custard or “yema” balls shaped and ready on a wire rack, with a cocktail toothpick inserted on each one. The toothpick helps you hold the yema balls, when the syrup gets too hot to handle.
  •     As soon as the syrup starts to boil and bubble, quickly pour on each “yema” that’s waiting on the rack.  Wait for syrup to harden and cool, before attempting to eat any of these.
  • NOTES: I couldn't resist posting this Caramel Custard Squash Sweets or Yemas when my good blogger friend and pastry chef extraordinaire, JENNI FIELD announced she was going to do a round up of all Pumpkin recipes for Thanksgiving. Find Jenni Field on Facebook and Twitter, and her fantastic site Pastry Chef Online  where she always has the best recipes for baking aficionados and foodie fanatics. Thanks, Jenni for generously sharing your wealth of information on baking cakes and pastries.
  • Hello, Friends! All the images and content here are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to use my photos or content on your publications, books, website, videos or film without my permission. If you want to republish this recipe for media content, please re-write it in your own words and simply link back to this blog to give proper attribution. It’s the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]


Serving: 100g | Calories: 234kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 9mg | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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  1. OH, thank you for the shout-out! You are so sweet! And speaking of sweet, the squashed squash candies look and sound wonderful–so glad they are a part of my round up! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Nami. The original sweets are the Filipino Yemas, custard candies with caramel topping. Some recipes have used pumpkin or potato as an added ingredient. I knew squash would do well,too.

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