There are many things I love about this Filipino Ensaymada. It’s mini and adorable. It only requires 4 ingredients (4!) And each bite brings me a taste of home.
Ensaymada is a Filipino pastry that’s a staple for breakfast or merienda (mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack). It’s a soft, buttery brioche-like bun, topped with butter, sugar, and cheese. Some versions (like mine) use buttercream. Some use margarine. Some omit the cheese, but if you know me, I never omit the cheese.
This breakfast bun is also a popular pastry product in Mallorca, Spain (there spelled ensaimada). I’ve never been to Mallorca, but I’ve been to many other Spanish cities and I’ve eaten plenty of Spanish food that are almost exactly the same as their Filipino counterparts. Internet research also tells me that the ensaimada is common in other Latin American countries. But the version I know, the version I gobble up every time I get the chance, is this Filipino treat:
I remember always picking the ensaymada topped with the most butter, sugar, and cheese. I made these mini versions because I wanted a better ratio of bun to topping, and also because the little treats are just so stinkin’ cute! At first, I tried sprinkling on additional sugar to make it look more traditional, but the buttercream I made was already pretty sweet, so no added sugar was necessary. I also made sure to get good Parmesan cheese. They key is using sharp, salty cheese, which cuts through the richness of the buttercream. In the Philippines, my favorite ensaymada buns are blanketed with fine shavings of queso de bola, a hard and crumbly Edam cheese.
I’m pretty proud of the shortcut I utilized in this recipe: I used a pre-made dough to make the buns. I love using crescent rolls and I’m certainly not ashamed to admit that I often use frozen dough to make appetizers and desserts. It saves me so much time, and it makes a lot of recipes much more accessible and less intimidating for me.
For this recipe, I brushed melted salted butter into the dough, before rolling and then cutting into small buns. I placed the buns inside mini muffin tins, and while the dough was baking, I whipped up a very simple buttercream. Once the buns were done, I slathered on the sweet cream on top, then topped with shreds of salty parmesan. These were perfect served warm and straight from the oven, but also delicious at room temperature.
In the Philippines, ensaymada is always served with coffee or hot chocolate (check out my post on How To Make Tsokolate, or Filipino Hot Chocolate). Can you guess which beverage I drank with mine?
1 tube (8 oz) crescent rolls
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 F (follow the crescent roll dough package instructions).
- Unroll dough. Separate into 2 rectangles. Most crescent roll dough includes 8 triangles, so for this recipe, each rectangle will be made up of 4 triangles. Pinch the perforations together. Flip over and pinch the perforations on the back together, too. Use a rolling pin to smooth out the seams and flatten the dough a little bit.
- Brush the rectangles with melted butter, and roll each rectangle into a log. Cut each into 8 pieces, so you'll end up with 16 pieces total.
- Using a pastry brush, grease mini muffin tins with the remaining melted butter. Insert buns and bake for 11-12 minutes.
- While buns are baking, make the buttercream. In a medium bowl, combine the room temperature butter and confectioners sugar. Cream together until smooth.
- Spread buttercream on top of each mini bun and generously top with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve immediately or keep in an air-tight container.
If you’d like to try more Filipino recipes, I have quite a few. Some savory favorites are adobo and salpicao, and for sweet treats, I love alfajores. And now these little Ensaymada buns!