Biko (pronounced bee-koh), a rice cake, is a native Filipino delicacy where glutinous rice is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar then topped with caramelized coconut milk. 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. I found that there are several ways to cook this sticky rice treat, one is by cooking the glutinous rice first before adding the coconut milk syrup. But I opted to chose another method, wherein the rice is cooked in the coconut milk and brown sugar. I believe that, in this way, the flavor is much more incorporated in the rice as it absorbs the flavors as it cooks. The color of your biko will depend mainly on the brown sugar used, so 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, I would suggest to start with half a cup first and go on from there.
Biko Recipe (Filipino Rice Cake)
- Generously grease a baking pan and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, mix together the 3 cups coconut milk and water. Add the sticky rice and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer, stirring constantly to keep rice from burning. Add more water in ½ cup increments if rice mixture is drying before rice is cooked.
- When rice mixture begins to thicken, add 3/4 - 1 cup brown sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved and fully incorporated. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until mixture is very thick and sticky. Biko is ready when it is already very difficult to stir and it pulls away from the pan.
- Pour the rice into the greased pan. Spread out evenly and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F/180°C for 15-20 minutes.
- While waiting, prepare the coconut caramel topping by combining the rest of coconut milk and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat while constantly stirring until the liquid thickens and is reduced to almost half.
- Take the rice out of the oven and spread the caramel topping evenly over the rice and bake for another 15 minutes or until caramel is browned.
- Remove from oven and let it cool down before serving.