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 Iâ€™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. Wowâ€¦ 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 Yearâ€™s Eve dinner. Hmmâ€¦ not so subtle way to remind me itâ€™s about time to buy the necessary ingredients, donâ€™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 friendâ€™s instructions on how to make the dough but I couldnâ€™t quite roll my mixture into balls right away. It took me few tries until I decided the â€˜trial-and-errorâ€™ method works best for me. That I will explain a bit more below. With latikâ€¦ itâ€™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 â€˜hair conditioningâ€™. Ahh the crazy things girls do in the name of beauty. Simply putâ€¦ 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 â€˜work-liveâ€™ 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. Itâ€™s probably just me or the brand I use so itâ€™s really all up to you. You would also notice that I use only half a can of coconut cream to make latik. Itâ€™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 â€˜trial-and-errorâ€™ method: I kind of check the mixture - if itâ€™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 â€“ it would be about 2 Â½ 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 palitawâ€¦ 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 Donâ€™t serve right away. Leave it for another 15 minutesâ€¦ 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.