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Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

 
Biko is my all-time favorite Filipino dessert or merienda (snack) item. It uses only 4 ingredients—which, in a pinch, can even be cut down to 3—and is so simple to make and requires no special tools or pans, which makes it an easy endeavor for someone who doesn’t yet have a properly-equipped kitchen.

Last week, I wanted to make something sweet for my son Tim. His favorite: cookies. Then I looked at my favorite recipe and realized that I needed to get every single item in the ingredient list. Chocolate chips. Vanilla. Flour. Butter. Sugar. Eggs. Nuts. A whisk. A mixing bowl. Cookie sheets. Maybe a cookie scoop too, since there is this strange pain in the fingers of my right hand that could use the help.

It overwhelmed me. I wasn’t even sure I’d have enough cupboard space to keep all these ingredients. So I just bought a tub of cookie dough. In an attempt to make it kinda special, I pressed pieces of Toblerone chocolate in the cookies. (Yes, I have no butter or sugar, but I have Toblerone chocolate.)

Tim enjoyed them, but Tom is not a big fan of cookies. However, both of them love biko. And I only needed to buy 4 things: sweet rice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and coconut cream. I could have even skipped the coconut cream and used the thick cream that rises to the top in a good can of coconut milk (don’t shake it!).

 
The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

 
Biko is like a soft, warm, sticky rice cake. It uses sweet rice or sticky rice. It is sometimes called glutinous rice because it gets gluey when cooked but it contains no gluten. It’s a different kind of grain and often, attempts to substitute other kinds of rice for sweet or sticky rice just don’t yield the same results.

I have fond memories of biko. When I was young, I used to call my mom at her office everyday at 2:20pm (I got home from school at 2:10pm) to remind her to bring me some biko. Every single day for three months, she would get her biko call. Then I’d get tired of it and ask for something else for a week or two, after which I’d start making the biko calls all over again for another three months. Biko memories always make me smile, so yesterday, after taking one bite of still-warm biko, it instantly cheered me up and helped me get past a recent bout of the blues.

I cooked yesterday’s biko in a regular pot, then baked it in another pot. These photos don’t show that because these were taken before we lost our kitchen. I’m so glad I sent these to a food blogger friend last month (she’s a biko fanatic) because that meant I still had these photos in my Gmail sent folder to share with you now.

 
The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

 

Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)
Makes one 9×13 pan

You need to use sweet rice or sticky rice (sometimes called glutinous rice) for this recipe. Coconut cream is found in most Asian and ethnic stores but if you can’t find it, just use the the thick cream from the top layer of a good quality can of coconut milk. Don’t worry if you end up with less coconut milk to use with the rice—simply add enough water to reach the desired amount of cooking liquid.

This recipe can easily be halved. If you like crunchy rice edges, cook the biko in muffin pans or brownie bar pans. Be careful when you pull it out of the oven; the caramelized brown sugar is very hot and can burn you if you try to taste it immediately.

Ingredients:

4 cups sweet rice, soaked overnight in 8 cups water
3 cans (14 oz. can) coconut milk
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup coconut cream

Soak rice overnight. The next day, drain and set aside.

Pour coconut milk and about a cup of water into a pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat. When simmering, add soaked rice and stir constantly to prevent burning. Lower the heat if necessary. Preheat oven to 350F.

When rice is fully cooked, sticky and almost dry (it will look like sticky risotto), about 10-15 minutes, add 1 cup brown sugar. (Note: If rice is already sticky but not yet fully cooked, add small amounts of water, stir and continue cooking. Rice must be fully cooked before it goes into the oven.) Stir well and take off heat. Pour into a lightly buttered 9×13 pan and smooth the top. Mix the remaining 1 cup brown sugar and coconut cream until smooth and pour it over the rice.

Bake for about 1 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours, until topping is dark brown and has thickened. Cool slightly before serving.

 
Rice cooker method:

For an alternate (easier) method, you will need 4 cups rice (soaked overnight and drained), 2 cups coconut cream, and 2 cups brown sugar. Prepare rice in a rice cooker on the “sweet rice” setting, using as much water as needed for 4 cups rice. When done, mix in 1 cup sugar and 1 cup coconut cream. Pour into greased 9×13 pan and smooth the top. Mix remaining 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup coconut cream until smooth, and pour over rice. Bake at 350ºF for about 1 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours, until topping is dark brown and has thickened.

 
The Ivory Hut: Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go call my mom. I think it’s time I repaid her for all those years of answering my biko calls.

 
 

74 thoughts on “Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)”

  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE seeing posts from you again Erika!! I’ve never heard of biko but looking at the photos tells me that this could become an addiction – wow. It’s good to have you back and I look forward to more posts – (((hugs!)))

  2. These are beautiful and I am sure incredibly rich and good. I am glad to see that you have started blogging again. It’s great to have a creative outlet that you can always turn to.

  3. I’ve never heard of Biko, but it does sound like quite a lovely snack. The thought a of a still warm, sticky, sweet rice snack just has a certain appeal. And what luck to still be able to post the pictures! I’ve been following your ordeal from the start and I cannot imagine rebuilding my life like that.

    I hope the blues don’t keep you down for too much longer and you get back everything you’ve lost. I realize there are irreplaceable things, but new memories are to be made everyday.

    I’m sending all my good thoughts your way!

  4. Congratulations on your *first* recipe post! You not only did a great post but you are educating people as well. This is the first I’ve heard of biko rice and a sticky sweet treat from it.

    Your Mom was such a sweetheart to bring it home for you all the time:)

  5. I have loved biko since I lived in San Diego! My neighbors were Filipino and I ate biko and lumpia all the time!! This recipe brings back fond memories! I’ll have to make it- thanks!

  6. I, like everyone else, have not heard of this decadent sweet treat. It looks simply scrumptious. I love the simplicity and authenticity of this Filipino dessert! Thanks for sharing! My heart is happy to see you back!

  7. I am soooo homesick for everything Pinoy right now! Lumpia, biko, adobo …. yum!

    There isn’t a single place within a 1 1/2 hour drive where I can buy anything remotely ethnic and now after perusing your site for a while, I just want to go home to NorCal.

    OR I could just send you my address….

  8. erika!
    napakasarap naman niyan….
    and i take it for granted here! you make it look so luxuriously good! ;-)
    i just joined this…:-) and will make it a habit to take apeek into your life every so often…take care, amiga! <3

  9. i just recently joined KCC and have found your blog through there. i’m sorry about your house. i guess on a brighter note, it’s an opportunity to start fresh.

    your pictures are amazing, and i have found myself leaving your blog on my browser semi-permanently so i can take a peek whenever i need a distraction or inspiration

    now you got my craving for some biko. thumbs up on the toblerone LOL!

  10. I absolutely love this and thank you for sharing!!! I am half filipino and there is a lot I have learned to cook from my grandma but there was a lot I have never paid attention to either *laughs. But you make this simple, short, and sweet! My husband will love this when I make it for him when he returns home from Iraq this next year :)

  11. OMG Erika, what a coincidence. I just made my Sumang Hubad, using a mold instead of wrapping them in banana leaves, and they look like your Biko! They’re sweet little things, right?

    1. Linda, yes it can! My father actually makes it that way: he cooks the rice separately, then stirs everything in, cooks it a bit more just to make it sticky again, and then bakes it.

  12. I’m new to your website via The Pioneer Woman. I just have to thank you for the recipes you’ve posted. I’m half filipino and my mother was an awesome cook. I have very fond memories of her freshly baked “rice cake” when we came home from school. Unfortunately, she passed on before I could learn her recipes or their proper filipino names. Today I ran for groceries and found every ingredient I need for Chicken Adobo (currently simmering on my stovetop) Biko, which I’ll make next weekend when my daughter visits and Pumpkin Leche Flan for Thanksgiving. Thanks for keeping it tasty & simple.

  13. My grandpa used to make this for me when I was a little boy and this is the closest recipe i can find that tastes most similar to his. Unfortunately, when he passed away – so did his recipe. Thank you so much for giving me a little taste of my childhood. Also, my grandpa used to call it “malakit”… Thanks again!

  14. Thanks for the recipe! I am always scouring the web for Ilokano recipes and I am so happy to see this biko recipe! All the pinoys I know are familiar with suman malakit – the sweet rice wrapped in banana leaves sans brown sugar. In fact, I love it so much, I named my dog Biko! I look forward to checking out the rest of your website!

  15. i work with flips (that’s their own nickname for themselves) they are the most wonderful warm-hearted people you could ever meet. they turned me on to “sticky rice”. i told them i was going to make it and we would see if the american could top their own nominated best cook of sticky rice. your picture is exactly how the nominated best cook’s looks. i can eat sticky rice ice cold, i love it so much. but it’s best warm. and i like the crunchy sides.
    if this comes out, i’m trying Pancit (sorry if i spelled it wrong) next.

  16. Thanks for the recipe! I constantly refer to this page when I am prepping to cook some biko. This will be our Thanksgiving dessert today.

  17. You have made me so happy by posting a recipe online :D I was taught out of memory from a family friend how to make this but she never gave me any measurements or cooking times so I never really remembered how to make it at all. I just made it yesterday and it is just like I remember it! Thank you so much!!

  18. I am so glad I came across your recipe as I have been looking for it for quite some time. A friend used to
    make this and bring me some, I got hooked on it, it was so good, sady she passed away and I didn’t understand the
    recipe she had given me, it is all clear now. I will try
    this recipe ASAP. Thank you so much for sharing the photo
    or I would not have known that this was indeed the recipe I was looking for.

  19. where did you get your special mold? need to get 2 of those! i am from the bikol region of the Philippines and these is a delicacy there as you well know. glad i found your blog! awaiting reply for mold? :-))

    1. Hi Imelda! That’s a brownie bar pan. You can get them from places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, or even Walmart. They don’t cost much either, and they make great individual cheesecakes, too!

  20. oh girl, you are one hell of a photographer. you make all those food look so sinfully delicious. my hat off to you. take care always…

  21. Thank you for posting your recipe. Biko is my favorite since I was little.I miss my mother’s cooking she cook Biko so good.I’ve been in the states for 16 years but I still love all the filipino food.I got your recipe/print it and I been cooking Biko three times a month. Thank You.

  22. I’m making this today! We had a dessert at an ice creamery that used this and layered vanilla ice cream and caramel on top. It was SOOOOO good! I’ve been dying to try it at home.

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