Pronounced: "La-tee-ja"
My mom & dad…when they were young…
I was raised in a multi-cultural home.  Now a days, depending on where you are from, it could be considered the norm.  Back then, however, it wasn't.  My parents are from the island of Guam. Their story dates wayyyyy back to their high school days.  They weren't high school sweethearts per se', however, they did know each other back then.  

Both of them didn't start to actually date until after my father graduated.  He joined the U.S. Marines, started dating my mother, and the rest as they say, is history. They married in Guam and then relocated to the United States.  A couple of years into their marriage, my father transferred military branches, where he retired in the Army as a First Sergeant. 

Growing up in a multi-cultural household was fun.  We had the American way of doing things.  Then we had the Chamorro (the word that describes anything relating to Guam) way of doing things.  Both of my parents never stopped speaking their native language throughout my childhood.  They were very famous for speaking half a sentence in Chamorran, then finishing the sentence in regular English.  It boggled my friends minds when they would come over at times because most of them weren't used to hearing a foreign language on a daily basis. Husband Man wasn't boggled though and till this day, LOVES to hear them talk.  He told me back when we were dating that he thought it was pretty darn awesome (his words…not mine) to hear.

Not only was my family multi-cultural, we also were military.  Our adventures living all over the East coast and over seas taught us the importance of sticking together. Throughout all our travels, my mother would always cook and bake dishes from her native island.  While I was growing up, it wasn't unusual for her to spend half the day in the kitchen, cooking up our favorite Chamorran dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or *just cause.* The kitchen was her vice while raising us. It didn't matter what kind of day she was having, you would always find her in there baking up a storm.

When I moved out on my own in my early 20's, I made sure that I took copies of the recipes to some of her signature dishes that I learned to love.

Latiya is one of them :) 

This dessert is famous among the people of Guam. I LOVE it because it's like comfort food for me. Who can resist angel food cake/sponge cake with a tasty, creamy custard on top and cinnamon sprinkles to round it out?? I have made this for numerous of our friends and they absolutely love it. 

It's great to make if you are having a barbecue or have been invited to a special event (pot lucks, get togethers, etc) because it makes quite a lot. All the credit goes to my mom when it comes to this recipe.  She is the one who introduced this dish to us and in turn, I am introducing it to all of you ;)

 (serves 8-10)

1 stick butter
2 cans Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 cans water from one of the cans of milk
1 and 1/4 cup sugar
12 tbsp. or 3/4 cup of cornstarch
Store bought angel food cake and/or sponge cake and/or pound cake


1.  Cut the angel food cake or pound cake into squares and place them on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan. 

2.  Melt butter in a pot and add milk. Add one of the cans of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium.

3.  In a separate bowl, mix thoroughly the cornstarch and the second can of water.

4.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the milk mixture and stir constantly. Add the sugar while stirring.

5.  Let this boil for 5 minutes or until thickened. It may take a while to thicken, but it will :)

6.  Pour over the angel food cake/pound cake.  Place in the fridge to chill for a few hours or over night.

7.  Sprinkle with enough cinnamon to decorate and serve.  


  1. YUM! I like the sound of this!! Thanks for the recipe! Great site! :)

  2. Hafa adai. I'm glad I came across your corner of the Internet. I was on, did a search for Guam and your latiya recipe came up. That's one of my favorite desserts from home. It's funny that your recipe uses a Carnation can as measurement - my mom's recipe calls for the same thing. I'm definitely paying your blog another visit soon. Happy Holidays to your and your family.

    - Rich T (Guam/Seattle)

  3. Hi Libby - silly question for you - do you pour the liquid on while it's still hot? The angel food cake looks flat in the picture. Thanks!!

  4. Yes. You pour the liquid on while it is still hot. As it cools, it will begin to thicken. It's ok if the angel food cake is cut flat or in chunks. It's good either way ;) Hope this answers your question :)

  5. Sponge cake, pound cake or yellow cake can also be used to make this dessert.

  6. I'm not Chamorro, but I lived in Guam for a good part of my life and I just wanted to thank you for putting this recipe up. I have taken Chamorro in high school, but I left behind the recipes that my teacher have given us back in Guam. I tried recalling the recipes, but I couldn't so I searched it up. :)
    I love eating latiya while it's still warm and over pound cake. :D
    Again, thank you so much!

    1. You are very welcome :) We LOVE this dessert here ;)

  7. What size can of evaporated milk do you use?

    1. We use two (12 oz.) cans of evaporated milk :)

  8. My grandma never measured... I remember her standing at the stove, throwing in this & that & of course, she used the empty can of carnation to measure the water...

  9. Hafa adai! Thank you for posting my favorite recipe from family parties. My grandmother was a Libby from Guam too. Her mother was from Saipan and always made this with ladyfingers, and my grandmother would use a spongecake. I think angel food cake sounds really good. I'll have to pass on your URL to my sister!

    1. Ohhh…ladyfingers would go well with this! I think we did try it with spongecake before as well ;) Yes…please pass this on to your sister ;)

  10. karen smead mondaleMarch 8, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    My grandmother (Marion Lake Smead) started the high school in Guam. She cooked something she called masaki that she learned from a native Guam friend. It's a DELICIOUS dish comprised of eggplant, ground beef, tomatoes, onion. I have added garlic, turmeric, rosenary to my version & serve it over rice or elbow macaroni, sometimes adding grated cheese.

    Anyone from Guam heard of this masaki? I'd live to see the original or different version.


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