by Bob Zozobrado (Manila Standard) | August 14, 2022, 7:30 pm

“Guavas are ripe, guavas are ripe, the mayas sang one day…” used to be one of the nursery rhymes I’d sing in primary school in Cebu. Oftentimes, it was also an affirmation of the status of the tree we had in our backyard which, somehow, never stopped bearing that delicious fruit, yellowish-green on the outside (when ripe) and pink inside.

My siblings and I grew up with that “generous” guava tree and all of us even learned how to climb it to pick the ripe fruits expertly without putting ourselves in danger.  Furthermore, in those days, diseases were unheard of, so there was no problem eating the fruit directly from the tree without washing it first.  That was one of the memorable joys of my childhood.

Fast forward to today – I learned from my jet setting Hong Kong-based dear friend, Michele Mitschiener-Hoeflich, that a new bakery gem is now available here in the metro – Guava Cake.  A cake made from guavas?  I was, at first, incredulous because it was the first time I heard of such.  I’m a cake lover and have tried all kinds, but never one with guavas in it.  Nevertheless, I gave Michele, being my long-time friend, the benefit of the doubt and listened to her story.

Monique Tangcongco

According to her, Monique Tangcongco grew up in a “guava household” where her grandmother taught her, at the age of 10, how to make her signature guava jam from freshly picked fruits from their backyard garden.  This delicious homemade jam was a daily staple on their breakfast table. 

Many years later, Monique became busy with her local and international career in hospitality which had her working in luxury hotels and mega-cruise ships.  When the pandemic brought her back home, she kept busy baking cakes and gifted these to friends and family.  Unexpectedly, her well-loved bakehouse creations sparked a buying frenzy among her friends.  She eventually had an ardent and loyal following, thus, M Cakes by Monique T was born.   Lucky me, I eventually connected with Monique and got to try her bakery “gems.”

The specialty of the house – Helen’s Guava Cake, with fresh guava slices on top

At first, her bestseller was her Strawberry Shortcake, which is also “to die for.”  (Take it from me…I became a slave to it once I had my first slice.)   But one day, while having her daily dose of guava jam over toast, Monique’s mother, Helen, suggested to her to come up with a new cake flavor using their family’s guava jam recipe.  Monique immediately went to work and came up with a true homage to the guava!  Its moist chiffon layers have the distinctive and unique taste of the fruit, with its pastel green color as the cake’s frosting, and topped with fresh guava slices.  

In no time, the cake became a hit among Monique’s bakery items and, as a tribute to her Mom who came up with the idea, she decided to label it Helen’s Guava Cake.  This has become so popular that it has now given rise to M’s Guava Gelato, which is produced in collaboration with Karabella Dairy Products.  You’ll find yourself in culinary heaven every time you have your slice of the delectable Helen’s Guava Cake or indulge in the creamy and rich guava-flavored ice cream version!

Monique and her bakery ‘gems’

I have to admit that I immediately became a loyal fan when I had my first taste of Helen’s Guava Cake.  Its unique taste made me hanker for more, so I spoiled myself with another slice of it…and more!  The delectable taste brought me back to my fun childhood days, when my siblings and I enjoyed climbing the guava tree in our backyard to pick and eat the ripe fruits while we were perched on the branches.

As I enjoyed my scoop of M’s Guava Gelato, the ice cream lover that I am, I easily yielded to its soothing and creamy taste which made me feel like I was floating among the clouds.  Naturally, I readily surrendered to the temptation of having more of it.  The beautiful feeling led me back to, once again, mentally sing, “Guavas are ripe, guavas are ripe, the mayas sang one day…”

You can see why M Cakes by Monique T’s Strawberry Shortcake is another bestseller

Everyone deserves to be in bakery heaven.  Get your share of these delightful treats. M Cakes by Monique T may be reached through IG moniquecakesph, or (632) 7003-5340, 0916-330-9757 care of Miel and