You know when there’s an underground band you love, and all of a sudden you’re hearing their songs on the radio and everyone’s wearing the T-shirt—and it makes you a little sad, because you enjoyed that special moment when you were in the know before everyone else? That’s how I feel about Hood Famous’ glorious ube (or purple yam) cheesecake.
As of Saturday, you too can be in on the secret—after years of being a cult-y dessert relatively hard to find, the ube cheesecake has a permanent home, at Hood Famous’ new Ballard bakeshop. It’s a tiny space, mostly a commercial kitchen to crank out many, many personal-sized cheesecakes, but also with a small retail counter for walk-in customers to pick up a sweet treat to go.
A little backstory: Hood Famous’ owner and master baker Chera Amlag and her husband Geo Quibuyen are the co-founders of Food and Sh*t—a Filipino pop-up dinner series (with perhaps the best name ever) that we wrote about last year. The original event was born as a way for the couple to celebrate their 10-year anniversary and raise money for a family trip to the Philippines. Though they were super green in the ways of cooking for a crowd, it was so successful they decided to do another. (And another…) It was at this second event that Amlag debuted an ube cheesecake—based on a flavor she grew up eating, and loving. From then on, eager Instagrammers would come to the pop-ups looking specifically for that pretty purple cake.
Now, I wasn’t there for the beginning, but I picked up my first ube cheesecake as soon as Amlag started wholesaling to Uwajimaya in 2014. It was love at first forkful. They say we eat with our eyes first, but this is a dessert as tasty as it is beautiful: delicately sweet, with a flavor somewhere between birthday cake and sweet potato pie
Since then, Amlag quit her “real” job and started baking full time. She says their mission has always been about sharing Filipino flavors—thank goodness, since we’ve got sadly few Filipino spots around Seattle. In addition to the signature ube cheesecake, she’s now making coconut pandan (a fragrant leaf that imparts a vanilla-like flavor), mango calamansi (a citrus fruit common in Filipino cuisine), and white chocolate guava cheesecakes, plus cookies and marshmallows and cute little cupcakes by special order.
The shop will be open Thursdays and Fridays 12 to 6:30pm, Saturdays 11 am to 6:30 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 3 pm. Online ordering should be available soon. Go, before everyone else gets there.
Ballard, 2325 1/2 NW Market St. (though the entrance is on Shilshole); 206.486.6429; hoodfamousbakeshop.com