Cassava tastes good if it doesn’t kill you

There are days I cook dangerously, and days I cook dangerously. Today was the latter. I picked up some of this:


Cassava. If you’re from most parts of the world, you already recognize it – it grows well in harsh conditions, so it’s an important food source for struggling farmers in Central and South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. The rest of the world might be more familiar with the starch extracted from it, which becomes tapioca.

Cassava is kind of Dr. Atkins’ nemesis. It’s highly carby. And to get back to my dangerous teaser intro, it can also be toxic – it contains cyanide, so you should never feed it to people straight up. Unless, of course, you don’t like them. Then feel free to go to town, and pretend you never read this post. This is starting to sound like a Murder She Wrote episode. The Case of the Killer Cassava…



I liked the family I planned to feed the cassava to (mine) so I did lots of research to make sure it wouldn’t kill them. I was drawn to a Filipino cake recipe that seemed popular, but in every recipe I found for it, they used frozen, grated cassava rather than the fresh bulbous one I had already bought. If I grated my own and baked it, would it be hot enough to burn off the poisons? Lalaine at assured me that the milk in the recipe would be hot enough. And that is my story and I’m sticking to it, Angela Lansbury.

Angela Lansbury

My next problem was that the recipe contained something called, “macapuno strings.” I’m sure most people would think, “well, forget it then, WTH is that?” Of course I am not most cooks – I saw that and thought, “Score, two dangerous foods in one recipe!” Here’s a picture of the dangerous stuff.

Macapuno strings

Let’s CSI that bad boy though, and check out the fine print that made me even more happy:

Mutant coconut

That’s right. Macapuno strings come from “mutant coconuts.” Awesome. How many of you have eaten a mutant coconut?



“Mutuant coconuts with a cyanide garnish, please.” You’re jealous, no? I knew that my favourite ethnic food store T&T would have mutant coconuts, but I wasn’t into driving all the way downtown. I Googled “Filipino food store,” and found this beauty in my neighbourhood. 


(I live in the gentrified part of the neighbourhood).

I wish I had taken a picture of Bernard, because he was about 90 years old and very excited to have a new customer. He happily sold me the mutant coconut and even upsold me a squishy rice purple yam thingy in a banana leaf.

Purple yam

How often do you guys eat something and think to yourself, “Wow, if this puts me in hospital, Dr. House’s team is really going to have a hard time figuring out what I ate, because I’m not even sure.” I think that thought about once a month.

Anyway, I excitedly rushed home and made a halfsies version of Lalaine’s mutant coconut cyanide custard cake. Here is the recipe as she wrote it, with a few tweaks below, mostly related to amounts and lack of frozen cassava:

Cassava cake with custard topping

  • 3 cups peeled, grated cassava (I recommend using the grater attachment for your food processor)
  • 1 can coconut milk (14oz or 400mL)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (300mL)
  • 3/4 bottle macapuno strings (full jar is 12oz or 340g)
  • 1/4C sugar
  • 1Tbsp butter

For the topping (recipe below makes too much, but it’s all good)

  • another can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk (370mL)
  • 4 egg yolks

Directions: Grease your pan. Mine was 8.5 x 11 inch. Preheat to 375. In a medium bowl, mix all cake ingredients (except butter, which was used to grease the pan).

Cassava cake mix

Pour mixture into pan until it’s 3/4 full and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes away clean. Remove from oven and pour custard over cake. Continue to bake until topping firms slightly and begins to brown – for me, this was about another 20 minutes. Allow to cool and slice into large squares.


Custard cassava

My husband hasn’t tasted this yet, but I predict he’s going to love it as much as I do, even though he doesn’t have a sweet tooth. This cake tastes like a hash brown custard. Intrigued? Give it a go. Rating: 3 Yums The perfect drink accompaniment might be an antidote. I’ll let you know. Or I won’t.


  1. Leave a Reply

    May 2, 2014

    Ha ha ha ha, you’re funny. I had a blast reading this.

    Trust me, you’ll be alright 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      May 2, 2014

      Phew! I was about to Google “symptoms of cyanide poisoning,” because I kind of have a half-imaginary headache. Thanks for popping in, and thanks for your help! Your blog is lovely.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
    May 3, 2014

    Okay so when you say tapioca you mean like the tapioca pudding my grandma used to make when we were little?? Tapioca comes from this cassava thing that can kill me?? You’re not trying to say my grandma was trying to kill me are you?? She was sweet. I don’t think she’d do that.

    Also…mutant coconuts. That is a post all by itself!!!!!!

    (BTW it might make more sense if the mutant coconuts were trying to kill us rather than the cassava. Just saying.)

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      May 3, 2014

      I think the mutant coconuts are good mutants, like X-men. Your Grandma, on the other hand…

      I got tired of hearing myself talk while blogging yesterday so didn’t go into detail on the mutant coconuts, but they are very interesting. It’s random whether or not you get a palm that makes macapuno coconuts (because it’s a mutation of a gene), but if you do, it keeps making them. The mutants don’t have milk in the middle, more like a jelly.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Trevor "The Burger Nerd" Davis
    May 4, 2014

    Ah shoot, you crack me up. Angela Landsbury, mutant coconuts, killer cassava…only you could find a way to tie all those things into one article.

    I’m glad you found a way to not kill your family with produce…otherwise the new Cooking Dangerously would involve not getting shanked in the prison kitchen and wondering if you can trade your pudding for protection 🙂

    The dessert looks interesting…almost like a chunkier creme brulee. Your description of “custard hash browns” did intrigue me.

    As always thanks for the great laughs this morning as well as sharing another cool recipe (and for using yourself as a guinea pig in the name of foodie science).

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      May 4, 2014

      Mmmmm, guinea pigs…

      Being a foodie in prison would be very interesting. Somehow I feel like if I was on kitchen detail I wouldn’t last long – lizard gizzards might not go over well. This recipe, slightly underdone however, could become a valuable weapon … I mean … culinary delight.

  4. Leave a Reply

    May 5, 2014

    What you told Joanna about the mutant coconut is really interesting! I love learning new things, especially food things! Each time I read casava, though, I thought of Casanova for some reason.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      May 5, 2014

      Don’t worry, you’re thinking about Cassanova because of the pregnancy. Romance is a side effect… 🙂 Glad you liked the info!

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