The mystery of the delicious birthday cake

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The mysterious birthday cake

At the end of his birthday dinner, my cousin Joseph used a little wooden hammer to smash an edible piñata, a tiger head that broke open to reveal little bags of M&Ms, Twix and other goodies inside. But I was more focused on his birthday cake—chocolate with a sticky, sweet icing and filling that was a cross between burnt caramel and yema.

“Where is this from?” I asked.

“Florabel” was the reply.

My mother, who had missed the dinner, needed to try that cake, but we wiped it out at dinner. She loves cake, she loves chocolate, she loves yema, so it was going to be a triple win. (Actually, it was going to be a quadruple win because I also really, really wanted to eat that cake again.)

The next day, I called Florabel in Estancia Mall. “Hi, do you have a cake with yema icing?”

Yes, I was told, the Choco Yema Cake. Bingo! I quickly ordered and had it picked up by Grab.

Wrong cake

When the cake arrived, my face fell. It was the wrong cake. It was beautiful, covered in glossy chocolate icing and topped with plump strawberries, but it was the wrong cake. I asked for the staff of Florabel to send me photos of the other cakes they had available. But none of them looked like Joseph’s cake.

I drowned my sorrows by eating a thick slice of the wrong Choco Yema Cake. My mom loved it. “Napakasarap nito,” she said.

“I know, but it’s not the cake I wanted you to try.”

I tried searching online. But the results looked nothing like the cake we enjoyed that night.

The next day, thoughts of Joseph’s mysterious cake haunted me. I couldn’t ask him where it was really from, because by then he was already in Budapest attending a friend’s wedding. I decided to pester his dad instead.

Internet sleuthing

Tito Jojo said the cake was from Florabel. It was a gift from the friend of a friend. And even though I felt bad about bothering a busy man about a cake, my curiosity had gotten the best of me. I was like Nancy Drew in those books I used to read as a kid. This was a mystery I needed to solve.

Again, I turned to my friend Google, refusing to give up. My internet sleuthing skills are pretty legendary—I’m the girl my friends turn to when they need to stalk someone.

How can a cake be this elusive? But I was determined. I was going to find this cake somewhere, somehow.

Then it hit me. I knew exactly who to turn to: the people of Let’s Eat Pare, a Facebook community that has grown to over 450,000 members. It’s a happy place where people discuss all things food. There you can find recommendations, tips, new discoveries and more.

“Can someone please please help me identify this cake? It’s super good—it’s chocolate with yema (I think, but could also be burnt caramel) icing and filling,” I wrote, posting a photo of the cake from the dinner. In just minutes, the first replies came.

“Pasteleria Manila ba ito?”

“Costa Brava?”

“I used to eat yema cupcakes from Slice. Baka may cake version sila?”

“Baka dulce de leche icing sa Cravings ata may ganyan.”

“Super Caramel Fudge Cake yata ito ng Banapple.”

“Looks similar to the yema cake served at Cafe Adriatico.”

“Why do I feel like this is homemade?”

“A Florabel cake.”

Mystery solved

The leads kept coming. Then, ReneBelle Talucod wrote, “Not sure, mare, pero parang nakita ko yan sa Caltex SLEX Mamplasan.” She posted a photo of a Sisa’s Secret staff member holding up a mango cake. She had encircled a cake that was on the right side of the photo, still in the fridge and almost covered by the man holding the cake. I zoomed in. It did look very similar to Joseph’s cake.

ReneBelle posted another comment, saying, “Eto nga ata!” She shared a screenshot of a Sisa’s Secret Facebook post from 2016: “Our CARAMELicious treat can be the perfect ending for your Pinoy meals here at Sisa’s!” The cake in the post looked very close to the cake I had been trying to find.

ReneBelle noted that the candle that came with the cake she bought from Sisa’s Secret looked identical to the candle on Joseph’s cake. “Sure na ako!” she said.

But there was another Let’s Eat Pare member who was sure, too. Vanessa Geron posted, “That’s Choco Caramel at Market on the 5th at St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City. My favorite!”

I Googled it and it did look like Joseph’s cake, too. “Oh my god, I think you’re right!” I replied to her.

“Yup, I know because I always buy that when at work,” said Vanessa, who is a urologist at St. Luke’s in BGC.

I was willing to order both cakes to figure out which one was the right one.

But I didn’t have to do that. A quick Google search told me that both cakes were the right cake. Market on the 5th (http://marketon5thave.ph/; tel. 8403-3545) is by chef Florabel Co-Yatco. Sisa’s Secret (https://www.sisassecret.ph/; tel. 0917-837-1347) is hers, too (along with a number of other restaurants including Florabel, of course, Crisostomo, Elias, Corazon, Felix, Johnny Chow and Mr. Franks). So they were right—it is a Florabel cake.

Mystery solved! I updated my post in the Let’s Eat Pare group. Other people had ended up following the thread. “Grabe, nakakatakam,” one of them said.

I have since ordered from Market on the 5th and can happily confirm that it is the same cake that we enjoyed at Joseph’s birthday dinner.

My inner Nancy Drew can chill now. Not only have I found the mystery cake, I have a list of new cakes to try, and I’ve even made new friends. There’s nothing like delicious food and a sweet, sweet cake to bring people together.

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