Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)

ivoryhut biko recipe
 
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!).

 
ivoryhut biko recipe

 
 
 
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.

 
ivoryhut biko recipe

 
 

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:

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

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 in the 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.

 
 
 
ivoryhut biko recipe

 
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.

 
 

73 Responses to Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice)
  1. Haydee
    April 20, 2012 | 11:39 am

    What do you mean Mix remaing brown sugar coconut cream for toppings? Do i need to mix under room temp or under heat? Does the sugar need to melt before topping it on the rice mixture?
    I like to make some tomorrow. Many thanks
    Haydee

    • ivoryhut
      April 20, 2012 | 12:01 pm

      Hi Haydee! You simply mix the remaining brown sugar and coconut cream at room temperature. No need to heat it up; it will cook in the oven. Let me know how it turns out for you!

  2. Jamie
    July 15, 2012 | 10:19 pm

    I tried Biko for the first time yesterday. It was incredibly delicious and I am jonesing for some more. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Florence
    August 8, 2012 | 9:59 pm

    I love biko and haven’t had one in years! I think I will try your recipe out sometime this week. I will let you know if I get it right.=) This will be the first time I make my own biko!

  4. Austen
    November 13, 2012 | 10:42 am

    This looks… interesting! I need to try this!

  5. [...] via Biko (Filipino Sweet Sticky Rice) | The Ivory Hut. [...]

  6. Tess Quadra
    February 18, 2013 | 1:00 am

    Hi,I also love Bico and will soon try making it.It’s ironic that I should get this recipe from someone in the USA,but hey I am happy that I did.Nice picture of this Bico by the way.
    It looks yummy!

  7. [...]  The owner supplies the meat while everyone is to bring a dish of some sort. Last year I brought Biko, otherwise known as Sweet Rice, a sweet Filipino dessert. A majority of people played it safe and didn’t even try it so [...]

  8. [...] biko recipe comes from Ivory Hut.  I’ve reprinted that recipe with my transformation to cupcakes [...]

  9. Adryon
    August 11, 2013 | 8:30 pm

    I’ve been telling my husband and daughter about biko ever since you described it to me at BSP. I can not wait to make this. Just looking at the pictures, I am drooling!

    xo

  10. Paul Weber
    September 4, 2013 | 5:37 pm

    This recipe brought many memories of many Filipino meals I have eaten,and prepared.Having spent time in the PI, and working alongside Filipino coworkers for years here in the states made the preparation a labor of love.

  11. Daliah Ignacio
    September 24, 2013 | 9:05 pm

    Good luck for me,…im going to cook biko today. It’s my first time…

  12. Pauline
    November 29, 2013 | 10:34 am

    Good morning! I found your recipe on Pinterest. I loved this stuff growing up in Hawaii, but I never learned to make it. Your recipe looks quite easy to do. Question: what is the difference between coconut milk and coconut cream? I know I’ve seen coconut milk in a can at the store, but I can’t say that I’ve seen coconut cream. Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

  13. robert
    March 8, 2014 | 8:04 pm

    what kind of rice is sweet rice and where can I get it ,I live close to the coast in so. cal. near san diego and want to try this at home…..my zip 92028. thank you

  14. Lola
    March 15, 2014 | 10:07 pm

    My favorite dish of sweetness from the Philippines!
    My grandma and lolo would always make this recipe, but the version from Baybay, Leyte, P.I. basically all the same except they would cut up big chunks of Ginger Root! Yes Ginger root. You boil along with rice and when your about done take tongs to pull ginger out.
    That’s the original way I was brought up. Divine sweetness from the heart!

  15. GC
    May 22, 2014 | 5:02 am

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I used to work night shift at a factory when I was at uni and the lovely filipino ladies that I worked with would bring Biko in from time to time. I loved it but never wrote down the instructions I was given for making it. Thanks again!

  16. ATW
    August 12, 2014 | 11:19 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. I have fond memories of this brown rice bibinka. My mom made different rice desserts , also yummy, but I often thought of this version that my aunties made at parties and special times. I made it first a few months ago for a Global bake sale at my daughter’s school and it really warmed my heart to be able to share my Filipino traditions with others. It turned out to be a nice gluten free dessert for many! Now, I am able to make it for my older parents who really appreciate it because it also reminds them of their childhood. I love how food does that! Don’t you?

    Your amazing photos are so inspirational as well. Thank you again for all of your wonderful shares!

  17. Sharon H
    October 5, 2014 | 1:58 pm

    Can I use sushi rice for the sticky rice?

    • ivoryhut
      October 5, 2014 | 2:13 pm

      Hi Sharon! Sadly, you really need sticky rice for this recipe. Sticky rice is sometimes called “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice” (though it certainly contains no gluten). It’s what makes the grains stick together.

      • Sharon H
        October 12, 2014 | 10:06 pm

        Hmm, I though because sushi rice sticks together it would work. I guess I would really need to buy sweet rice or glutinous rice

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.



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