There are many variations on biko, but this biko recipe will give you a sweet dark brown-sugared sticky rice cake topped with a caramelized coconut sauce and latik (crispy coconut curds).
Each decadent bite of this traditionally Filipino dessert is filled with flavors of palm sugar, dark brown sugar, and rich coconut.
Glutinous rice vs. jasmine rice
Like Vietnamese Chè Bắp, Xôi Lá Dứa, Thai mango sticky rice, Filipino champorado, bibingka, or puto, rice is a staple ingredient in biko–it’s important to note you need to use sticky rice and it cannot be substituted by non-glutinous rice that is typically eaten with normal meals and savory foods. While there is no actual gluten in sticky rice (wtf), it does differ from Jasmine rice or even short grain rice because it cooks to a much stickier texture; This also helps keep the rice cake shape in place when it’s cooked.
To prepare glutinous rice for cooking, I like to soak the rice in water for at least four hours, but ideally overnight. Soaking the rice helps to reduce the active cooking time for the rice later on. While your rice is soaking, you can make your toppings and coconut sauce to mix with the sweet sticky rice.
Depending on where you are in the Philippines, latík could be two different types of coconut based toppings: a syrupy sauce or crispy coconut curds. For this recipe, we are making the Tagalog version of latík, which is made by heating up and boiling one can (or 13 ounces) of coconut cream in a saucepan for about 15 minutes over medium low heat.
I like to make the latík first because you can leave it on the counter while cooking the rest of the recipe. It’s important to keep vigil over the sauce during this time because it changes texture frequently. You also want to carefully stir the coconut cream every so often to make sure there are not burnt pieces.
The end result of this process is a separation of coconut oil and crispy fried and golden brown curds. Strain the curds from the oil and dry the curds on a paper towel. You can save the oil for cooking in future recipes in a glass container. Save the curds for topping your biko later.
Coconut sauce topping
This extra thick coconut sauce topping adds an extra sinful sweetness to this dessert. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine eight ounces of coconut milk, 45 grams of palm sugar, and 55 grams of dark brown sugar.
Continue to cook and occasionally stir the sauce for about ten minutes. You should end up with a richly brown and thick sauce that is the consistency of honey. Remove from heat and set aside until it’s time to add it onto the biko.
How to cook biko and assemble
After your glutinous rice has finished soaking, combine 18 ounces of coconut milk, 12 ounces of filtered water, 135 grams of palm sugar, 165 grams dark brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large pot over medium heat and mix thoroughly. When the sauce begins to boil, lower the heat to medium low and carefully add the soaked glutinous rice.
Continue to cook and stir the rice mixture for about 25 to 30 minutes. Be careful when you are stirring because there might be splashes of sticky sauce bubbling. While your rice is finishing cooking, prep your pan by greasing the inside with one teaspoon of the coconut oil you made earlier.
Test your rice every so often to check doneness. When it’s finished, the rice grains should be completely soft throughout and not grainy. There should be no liquid leftover in the pot and it should be very sticky to stir. Transfer your rice to the baking pan and pat down so it’s nice and even on the surface.
Baking biko in the oven
Take your coconut sauce topping and drizzle it over your cooked biko evenly. Move the pan into a preheated oven for 350 °F and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the biko when the topping is nice and bubbling and cool it on the counter for at least one hour.
When your biko is cool, cut the sweet rice cake in squares and top with the crispy latík on each square. This recipe is great for family parties because it can feed a lot of people! My favorite type of party to make biko for are boodle fights because you can make a lot of it and premake it the day before.
Does Biko need to be refrigerated?
If you can’t finish your biko within a day, you can keep it in the fridge for about a week.
Can you freeze Biko?
You can also freeze your biko for future glutton sessions. All you have to do is thaw it on the counter and reheat it in the microwave when you want to eat it.
Biko (Filipino Sweet Rice Cake)
- 405 g (2 c) glutinous sticky rice
- 64 oz water for soaking
- 18 oz coconut milk
- 12 oz water for cooking
- 135 g (12 tbsp) palm sugar
- 165 g (12 tbsp) dark brown sugar
- 2.5 g (½ tsp) salt
- 13 oz coconut cream
- 8 oz coconut milk
- 45 g (4 tbsp) palm sugar
- 55 g (4 tbsp) dark brown sugar
- Soak the rice in eight cups of water for at least four hours or overnight.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, add the coconut cream and stir occasionally for 15 minutes. The oil and the curds should begin to separate at about five minutes. When the curds have browned and smell like toasted coconut, strain the curds from the oil, dry on paper towels to remove excess oil, and put it aside for later.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, palm sugar, and dark brown sugar. Stir occasionally for ten minutes until the sauce thickens to the consistency of honey and have a dark brown coloring. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside. The sauce will also thicken as it cools.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk, water, palm sugar, dark brown sugar, and salt together and mix thoroughly.
- When the mixture reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and carefully stir in your soaked glutinous rice.
- Continue to cook and occasionally stir the rice for about 25 to 30 minutes. Your rice is finished when there is no liquid leftover in the pot and the rice grains are soft throughout the grain. When you stir the rice, it should have a thick and sticky consistency.
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F.
- Lightly grease your pan with the leftover coconut oil you made from the latik. Add in the finished biko rice and spread the rice evenly.
- Drizzle the coconut sauce on top of the biko and place the pan in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan when the topping is bubbling and darker brown.
- Cool the biko on the counter for one hour and then add the crispy latík on top before serving.