I have no idea why it took me this long to try cooking Pinoy desserts such as puto, biko, maja blanca and palitaw. I guess I am intimidated by the idea that they are too difficult to prepare as I’ve never seen my parents and siblings cook any. I could only go as far as leche flan. Then few days before Christmas day, a friend showed me how to prepare palitaw. Wow… looks easy peasy and taste really good! And just when I totally forgot about it during the busy Christmas holiday, another friend brought over palitaw sa latik for New Year’s Eve dinner. Hmm… not so subtle way to remind me it’s about time to buy the necessary ingredients, don’t you agree?
I decided to start with cooking palitaw sa latik rather than the version where in the rice cakes are covered with a mixture of coconut, sugar and sesame seeds. I followed exactly my friend’s instructions on how to make the dough but I couldn’t quite roll my mixture into balls right away. It took me few tries until I decided the ‘trial-and-error’ method works best for me. That I will explain a bit more below. With latik… it’s a walk down memory lane. I grew up in a house surrounded by coconut trees and cooking latik was synonymous with using the coconut oil you get out of it for ‘hair conditioning’. Ahh the crazy things girls do in the name of beauty. Simply put… ang nagagawa nga naman sa ngalan ng kaartehan kahit mangamoy gata ka hahaha!
Below are the how-tos. I start with making latik (caramelized coconut cream topping), sometimes a day before to fit my ‘work-live’ situation. Using fresh coconut milk is always the best but here I used canned coconut cream. With my experiments I found out that canned coconut cream yields better latik than canned coconut milk. It’s probably just me or the brand I use so it’s really all up to you. You would also notice that I use only half a can of coconut cream to make latik. It’s because I used the other half to make the sweet coconut syrup. You can always make more.
- ½ can coconut milk or cream (to make latik)
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour
- Approx. ½ cup water (to make dough)
- ½ can coconut milk or cream (to make syrup)
- ½ cup water (to make syrup)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- a pinch of salt
- To make latik, start by pouring coconut cream into a saucepan.
- Bring to boil with continuous stirring until almost dry. Turn down the heat to low and continue stirring until the curds separate from the coconut oil.
- Continue stirring until the curds are browned but not burnt. Drain and set aside. This will be about 2 tablespoons of latik.
- To make the dough, combine glutinous rice flour with water. The ‘trial-and-error’ method: I kind of check the mixture - if it’s still crumbly I add more water. If too watery to form into a ball, I add flour. Just make sure you have enough flour every time.
- Scoop a teaspoonful and form a ball with your hands. Drop in a flat clean surface and flatten using your palm – it would be about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Repeat until mixture is finished. I made around 20-ish.
- Boil water in a pot.
- Using a rubber spatula, lift up each flattened dough from the flat surface and drop into the pot of boiling water. I use a small baking spatula to un-stick the dough from the other spatula to drop it into the pot. Drop 4-5 pieces at a time. Do not overcrowd.
- Cook until they float. (And so the name palitaw… lutuin hanggang lumitaw.) Scoop them out and set aside.
- To make the coconut syrup: mix coconut milk with water and brown sugar. Add a pinch of salt and bring to boil.
- Drop in cooked palitaw and wait until they float again.
- Add latik and cook for another 5 minutes over low fire.
- Transfer to a serving bowl Don’t serve right away. Leave it for another 15 minutes… they taste better after a while as palitaw absorbs the syrup flavor.
Palitaw covered with a mixture of coconut, sugar and sesame seeds as shown below.
Photo below shows flattened round dough on a flat surface to form about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. When you scoop them out and drop into boiling water, they will loose its perfect round shape and would be oval more like a tongue… just the right shape. See photos above.