how to make filipino sticky rice dessert

Filipino sticky rice dessert is a traditional dish that is made by cooking glutinous rice with coconut milk, sugar, pandan leaves, and salt.

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How to make filipino sticky rice dessert

Get that perfect sticky chewiness all the time with this easy Biko recipe. Topped with delicious coconut caramel sauce or latik that will make you want for more. Biko, a Filipino sticky rice cake with latik syrup topping

What is Biko?

Biko (pronounced bee-koh), a rice cake, is a native Filipino delicacy or ‘kakanin’ where glutinous rice is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar then topped Latik. The latik can be either in curd form or syrup. Traditionally, biko is served on a bilao, a round wooden bamboo tray, lined with coconut-oiled banana leaves, and is a popular dessert for every special occasion like birthdays, reunions and fiestas.

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It is well-loved throughout the country and known different names. Bibingkang malagkit is one and it is Sinukmani to the Southern Tagalog regions. We grew up calling it simply kalamay.

3 basic ingredients for biko: glutinous rice, coconut milk, brown sugar

What do you need to make Biko Kalamay?

You will need only 4 basic ingredients to make this delicacy: glutinous rice, coconut milk, water, and brown sugar. You can either top it with latik curds or latik syrup, that is made by combining coconut and brown sugar.

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The color of your biko will depend mainly on the brown sugar used. If you are trying to get that rich brown color then use a really dark brown sugar or muscovado. Brown sugar also varies in sweetness so you might have to adjust according to your preference.

Adding pandan leaves while cooking the rice will give it nice aroma and flavor. I also added a bit of vanilla extract to the latik syrup to make it extra delicious. Believe me, it is spoon-licking good, I could eat it on its own.

malagkit na kalamay or biko served on a plate

How to make Biko?

I found that there are several ways to cook it. The most common way is by cooking the glutinous rice first like you do regular rice. Then it will be added to the coconut caramel later.

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There is also another way that an old friend taught me. He simply put the ingredients for the biko together in a rice cooker and that is it. Practical if you do not have time and just want a quick snack.

For this recipe I went with the more traditional way. But instead of just boiling the sticky rice in water, I boiled it in coconut milk with water and pandan leaves so it can absorb the flavors right from the beginning.

step-by-step photo on how to make sticky rice cake

Here are some tips to make a perfectly chewy biko with perfect latik topping

Making this sticky rice cake is really very easy. But one simple mistake and it can turn mushy or uncooked.

  • When you steam the rice make sure that you do not add too much water. It is not supposed to be completely cooked at this point. Doing so may result in the grains to break when cooked later which will give you a paste-like consistency instead of chewy whole grains.
  • It is fine to give it a stir or two in the first part of cooking the rice to prevent the bottom from burning. However, avoid over stirring because, again, it will result in mushy rice.
  • When the rice is added to the latik syrup, gently fold the rice to coat them completely. Let the rice absorb the liquid while stirring from time to time. Do this until all grains are cooked and have expanded and very sticky.
  • The length of time to bake the biko depends on how thick the latik caramel topping is, it might take more than 20-30 minutes if it is a thick layer. Just wait that it turns bubbly and no longer gooey.

freshly cooked kalamay na malagkit

This biko recipe was originally published on August 2016. Updated on May 2020 to include new photos and recipe video and improve the recipe itself.

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