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When I was thinking of something to make a couple weeks ago, it dawned on me that despite studying french pastry and regularly working on ‘ethnic’ sauces at work, I had yet to really beef up my Filipino sweets-making skills. With the exception of a long ago attempt at sesame balls (oooh gotta make that again) I haven’t really done any asian desserts. How strange is that, given that I’ve been eating them for my whole life?!

With that in mind, I decided to make hopia. If you haven’t had hopia, it’s basically a Filipino pastry with filling, the most popular being sweet yellow mung bean and is most likely available at any Filipino bakery you run into. My all time favorite hopia was made at Balingit Bakery here in Chicago. They were perfectly sized, with a crunchy but delicate shell, generous filling and perfect shell to filling ratio (So many places have way too much dough for the amount of filling). Balingit also had my most favorite ensaymada but unfortunately they’re closed now :( I heard the owners retired so I decided now was the time to try to make my own hopia with Balingit’s as my gold standard.

After some researching, I decided to go with this recipe, mainly because it uses lard. Yes, lard. I know lard gets a bad rep health-wise but it does wonders for a flaky crust! And I wanted a Balingit flaky crust! Besides everything in moderation is ok, right? ;) Making hopia is a time consuming process so I think it’s best to allow 2 days to make all the components. Overall I was pretty pleased with the results ( I achieved the Balingit smell at least haha) but I next time I’ll be making changes, which I’ll note as we go along. Oh and oddly enough I think they tasted better a couple days after I made them, rather than straight out of the oven fresh. My guess is the extra time lets all the flavors develop and come together. But enough chit chat, recipe below!

Hopia
Makes ~18 hopia

Filling
14 ounces dried peeled split yellow mung beans
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soak beans for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Add more water to about an inch above. Boil until beans are mostly broken down and skim the scum as it arises.
Puree in food processor in batches (see the max capacity of your container).
Place back in saucepan and continue cooking. Make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.
When almost dry (looks like mashed potato consistency), add salt and sugar. Continue stirring to cook further until dry enough. You want it to be scoop-able at room temp but not crumbly.
Transfer to jars and refrigerate.
*Next time, I would add ~1/4 cup more sugar. I thought it tasted sweet enough on its own at first but in the finished hopia it didn’t taste sweet enough. I also cooked it too long. The filling was a little too crumbly for my liking when cooled to room temp so be careful. Also with this recipe, you’ll have more filling for the amount of dough you will make. Freeze the extra filling for future hopia making :)

Dough 1:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup pork lard

Mix together until crumbly. Use your hands.
Divide into 4.

Dough 2:
Mix together until crumbly (same as in dough 1):
2 cups flour + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup pork lard

Once thoroughly mixed, add 1/2 cup water to the above and mix with your hand. Divide into four.
Once the two are ready, proceed as follows for each part of the two types of dough (which you now have 4 of each):
Use cling wrap above and under dough 2 to make it easier to maneuver. Flatten with rolling pin and shape into a rectangle. Distribute dough 1 above. Roll the two together. Wrap tightly with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

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With plastic wrap under and over each log, roll out each log into a rectangle about ~1/8″ thick. Place desired amount of filling for a single hopia on dough (I used an ice-cream scooper) and punch out enough dough to shape the hopia. This took a fair amount of trial and error for me so be patient. Shaping also takes patience if you’ve never done this before. I gathered the circle of dough and filling in one hand and pulled up the edges with the other so that the filling becomes encased inside. I then cut off the excess dough and turned them upside down (so the smooth side is up) and flattened the whole piece. Smooth out/ round out any edges. (I realize this sounds very confusing! The original author of the recipe used has very useful slideshows so do check them out for visuals).

When ready to bake, make an egg wash of 1 egg + 1 Tbsp of water and brush the top of the hopia.

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Bake at 350F until golden brown. My oven is screwy so I don’t have an exact bake time but allow at least 10-15 mins, keeping an eye on them later in the baking process.

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I know this sounds intimidating! But it’s very do-able technique wise once you get going. Good luck and I hope this helps anyone who was as clueless as I was when I started the whole hopia process :)

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