Brittany Gudino of Ube Bae Desserts makes baked goods with ube, including the pictured ube crinkle cookies.

Brittany Gudino fell in love with baking while watching the Food Network as a child.

Even though she grew up in a partial Filipino household, baking wasn’t initially a big part of her childhood. Instead, she grew up making traditional Filipino cuisine like lumpia, sinigang, chicken adobo and pancit.

But she was so inspired by the cooking and baking shows she watched when she was young — so young that she was barely old enough to start school — that she recalls telling her kindergarten class that she wanted to be a baker when she grew up, despite having never even baked before.

By the age of 7, she was attempting to follow dessert recipes of Food Network chefs and she would have successfully executed the recipes if it weren’t for a lack of essential baking ingredients like shortening, baking soda and baking powder.

“I didn't know that baking soda and baking powder are essential ingredients to baking, so I would just skip it and I'd just mix flour and eggs together and sugar and think I was baking,” she says. “I remember one time when I was a kid I tried to make doughnuts that I saw on Food Network and the recipe list called for shortening and I didn't have that and I thought it was the same thing as oil. So when it called for three cups of shortening, I was like ‘I don't have it,’ so I just used three cups of oil and it was so bad.”

“I've learned since then how to bake a little bit better,” she says.

Now, the 30-year-old wife, dog mom and active-duty military member is turning her passion for baking into an official “side hustle,” with her new baking venture Ube Bae Desserts, which officially opened its (oven) doors on Sept. 1. Though Gudino is still active duty, her latest dessert endeavor isn't affiliated with the military. 

Brittany Gudino, the home baker behind Ube Bae Desserts, fell in love with baking when watching the Food Network as a kid.

Ube Bae Desserts creates homemade, small-batch cookies that are filled with ube and love. You can order her sweets by direct messaging her on Instagram and she sometimes makes an appearance at food truck rallies around town. 

As a certified cottage food home baker, Gudino bakes around 20 dozen ube white chocolate chip and ube crinkle cookies for her customers every week. If you're unfamiliar, ube is often compared to a sweet potato, except it's purple. Some say it tastes nutty or vanilla-like. The vibrant purple homemade cookies cost $12 for a half dozen and $18 for a dozen.

Along with the two permanent menu items, Gudino includes a monthly rotating item on the menu, too. October’s specialty item was an ube whoopie pie complete with ube marshmallow cream sandwiched between two black chocolate cake cookies.

The ube whoopie pie is one of Gudino’s favorite items that she’s ever created.

“I have like a true addiction to Oreos, like cookies and cream anything,” she says. “And so the black cake cookie reminds me so much of the Oreo Cakesters, which I love. But then the Filipino twist with the ube marshmallow cream just pushes it all together.”

In addition to cookies, Brittany Gudino offers monthly specials. October's special was an ube whoopie pie.

Although her baked goods are ube-centric, Gudino plans on experimenting with other flavors that are near and dear to her heart and her Filipino culture.

“Ideally, I’d like my business to expand to feature other Asian-inspired ingredients,” she says “And bring awareness to different Asian cuisines and baking.”

It’s more than just a purple cookie 🍪

Gudino wants to make people feel welcomed and excited to try Filipino cuisine with her Filipino-American fusion baked goods. 

“There's so much culture behind Filipino food and the way it's prepared and the way it tastes,” she says. “And it brings like, for people of Filipino culture, it brings (back) so many memories, especially childhood memories. Having this business really opens the door to educating people and then sharing those experiences.”

Gudino’s parents met in the Philippines, where her mom is native, while her dad was stationed at a Navy base there. Gudino was born in the Philippines but she grew up in the San Diego area.

She first fell in love with ube when she was a child.

“I think because it's (ube is) such a unique thing,” she says. “Like I remember as a kid having halo-halo, which they have ube ice cream in there, or my mom would buy ube ice cream in the grocery store and I would just love it.”

But as an adult who traveled to different places due to work, including places in the Midwest like Missouri, she found it difficult to find ube in stores. 

Fortunately, when Gudino moved to Tucson three years ago, she was able to rediscover the ingredient in stores and fell in love with it all over again.

With the encouragement of one of her coworkers, John Viray, who runs a Filipino food truck in Tucson, she decided to turn her passion for ube and baking into a side business last month.

“I would make my cookies for work sometimes and he's like, ‘You need to sell these,’ and I'm like, ‘No, no one's gonna buy these,’” she says. “And he's like, ‘You need to sell them,’ so I was like, ‘OK, let's just see what happens.’ And here we are.”

For now, Brittany Gudino’s baked goods are ube-centric, but she hopes to experiment with other Filipino flavors in the future.

So far, reactions to the cookies have been positive, according to Gudino, who says that she’s had a customer finish a pack of cookies within 10 minutes of picking them up and immediately messaging her to order more, and even a customer who gave her a cookbook with a “really sweet note in it.”

Originally, Gudino’s idea for her side business' name was going to be Ube Bae Bae (or bay bay, a reference to Hurricane Chris’ one-hit wonder, “A Bay Bay,” she jokes). But her close friends thought it was one “bae” too many and she opted for Ube Bae.

“Ube Bae is just so catchy,” she says. “It's way easier to find, easier to say and I wanted to keep something with 'bae' kind of in there. So it was like Ube Bae’s perfect.”

Although Gudino officially started Ube Bae at the beginning of September, she already has long-term goals in mind. That includes eventually baking out of a commercial kitchen and participating in the annual Tucson Meet Yourself festival and Fourth Avenue Street Fairs.

“I love baking, I have passion,” she says. “My goals were to just take Filipino and Asian cuisine, tie it in with American classics and then expand or get people who normally wouldn't try this type of food to try it and different Asian flavors.”

To find out more about Ube Bae Desserts or to place an order, check out Gudino's Instagram page.

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