6.11.09

Broas (Ladyfingers)



The broas (ladyfingers) from Osang’s somewhere behind the Baclayon Church in Bohol are simply spectacular. Broas are my number one favorite locally baked sweet crunchy snack. It’s a kid thing. Growing up I used to get dragged to my mother’s ancestral summer home in Bohol and on the arduous jeepney or minibus ride there we would stop at her suki where she would chat with the old lady while the ENTIRE jeepney or minibus waited patiently and we would pick up a few packs of broas to take with us on the trip. At this early stage, she would also place orders for several cans (huge cans) of broas for us to take back to Manila on our way home. Last year I went back to Osang’s and it has barely changed in the past 30 years in between my last visit. Many people make broas in Bohol, but Osang’s is it for Marketman.

Broas are nothing new, they are in fact a local version of well-known ladyfingers or similar cookies in the west. What makes the Bohol ones so good is half fond childhood memories and half an incredible attention to craftsmanship. The recipe is a secret mix of whole eggs (not egg whites as most would assume), flour and sugar. My sister once spent a day at Osang’s to figure out how to make them but she recalls mostly that they were slowly mixed by hand in wooden bowls. The slow mix yields a different consistency from an aerated mix in an electric mixer. They still mix the ingredients by hand today. Also unique is they oven where charcoal is beneath the cookies and charcoal is also place above the cookies so that they are crisp and cooked just right all over. You would think after selling their 7 millionth broas they could get an oven but that isn’t the point. How nice that someone still makes this the old-fashioned way! Considering how humid the Philippines is, the fact that these cookies remain crunchy for several days or weeks if properly stored is a miracle in and of itself.

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