Best Biko Recipe? Possibly… definitely! This irresistibly indulgent sweet and sticky rice cake is so easy to make and has only three ingredients – glutinous rice, coconut milk and brown sugar.
Biko is the more popular Rice Cake in the Philippines, compared to Nilukay, which is a special family recipe handed down for a few generations now. They have the same ingredients but the difference is in cooking the coconut milk.
In Nilukay, we render the coconut oil slowly by simmering the coconut milk for a long time in low heat. Then we mix the resulting coconut oil and golden coconut curds with the glutinous rice and brown sugar. While in the Biko, you cook the coconut milk and the brown sugar to make a thick coconut caramel, which you coat the glutinous rice with.
I experimented with this recipe in my quest to perfect it and post only the best Biko Recipe. Started with adjusting the sugar 1/4 cup at a time (and even tried granulated sugar). Then moved around the Coconut Milk as well. One can of Coconut Milk in the Caramel, then 2. Finally moved 1 cup from the 2 cans of coconut milk to the rice and so on. So I have some tips and pointers on what contributes to the over-all taste and flavour of this indulgent Sweet Sticky Biko Rice.
I love both, as each has its own special flavour profile. Or maybe I just love Glutinous Rice and Coconuts. Oh well I grew up in a tropical island paradise where coconut is in abundance.
Growing up, we even had coconut trees in the two corners of our residential lot, imagine that! Although it was always scary during tropical storms. We were in constant fear that the hurricane force winds will knock them out and they crush our house (and us inside it). The yin and yang of tropical paradise.
How to make Biko Rice Cake
Glutinous Rice, Coconut Milk and Brown Sugar. Nothing can be simpler than that, right? Although you may want to add Coconut Curds for toppings, and you can find the recipe of How to make Latik – full instructions How-To-Video. If you have access to Pandan leaves, you can add them when you cook the rice. It provides a fragrant, savory-sweet flavor.
Some people add Vanilla extract but I don’t. I am a minimalist. I usually keep my recipes lean, without sacrificing the flavour. For me, the Vanilla essence doesn’t contribute much as the coconut flavour in this recipe has a strong aroma and flavour already from the Coco Caramel.
- Pot or Rice Cooker to cook rice in
- Large pan or Wok to mix them together
- (Optional) Oven and square 8×8 or 9×9 pan or any serving container
Cooking this Biko Recipe
Wash the rice as you would, but instead of just adding water, add 1 cup Coconut Milk and 1 cup Water to the 2 cups Glutinous Rice. If you have Pandan leaves, put them in with the rice before cooking.
You can cook rice in the Rice Cooker. Click on Cook and wait for it to pop and remove from heat/unplug. Do not let it sit on Warm unless you prefer the Biko fluffier (compared to more mushy and sticky rice).
If using a pot to cook the rice, cook in medium heat and when it starts to simmer, turn the heat to low and cover. Cook until the liquid is fully absorbed if you want the rice just cooked or leave it on low for a few minutes until the rice is puffed up (fully cooked). Discard the Pandan leaves.
Note: There is no wrong or right way. It depends on personal preference. Some likes the rice in the Biko mushy and clinging together while others would prefer a more solid and fluffier rice. I for one prefers the mushy type as that is the Biko that I know. We will cook the rice in this recipe 3 times anyway. This is just the initial cooking. Then we cook the rice with the Coco Caramel or what we call Latik Syrup afterwards we bake it in the oven.
Preparing the Coco Caramel Syrup
In a large pan or wok, combine 2 cups Coconut Milk and 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar. Let it simmer in medium heat with intermittent stirring until the liquid thickens. Stir to make sure it doesn’t harden or burn at the bottom or sides.
Simmer until the Coco Caramel is thick enough – it is thick enough when it coats the back of the spoon. Although you can have it thicker but you will get lesser syrup. Get a cup and set aside 2/3 cups of the Coco Caramel for the topping.
Putting the Rice Cake Together
Fold the Glutinous Rice into the Coco Caramel and mix completely.
Tip and Technique: If you watch the video below, you can see how I kinda systematically coat the rice. I started with a small clump or a spoonful and quickly folded it in the syrup then I moved on to the next clump and do the same.
This technique looks labour intensive but it is actually more efficient. If you just try to coat the entire lump all at the same time, you will end up stirring and stirring for longer as you will have clumps that are not coated well. Whereas if you ensure that smaller clumps are coated and you move around the rice, you will have a more evenly coated Rice Cake.
Cook in low heat the rice has absorbed all the liquid, stirring from time to time so you won’t get rice sticking to the pan and burning. This is the second cooking of the rice and by this time, the rice will be fully cooked.
To Serve or to Bake
How do you know that it is done? The rice will come together in one big lump and all the rice are coated and will be light brown in colour. If there are clumps that are not properly coated, you will see that they stand out or doesn’t stick properly with the rest of the rice.
Fold and stir some more. This is where the technique I discussed earlier about coating smaller clumps at a time is handy. The Rice Cake will come together sooner and thus lesser stirring/folding of the entire Rice Cake.
Prepare an 8×8-inch (9×9 is fine as well) square baking pan and transfer and spread the rice evenly in the pan. Then pour the reserved Coco Caramel on top of the rice. If you are not baking to finish it off, any container will do and just try to lay them flat and even then pour the Coco Caramel on top.
Traditional Biko Recipe
The rustic way of preparing the Biko is on (smoked) banana leaves. (The smoking makes the leaves limp, thus easier to manage and/or fold plus it leaves releases a fragrant aroma that contributes to the aroma of the Rice Cake). But if you don’t have access to banana leaves, it is no biggie.
I don’t grease my pan as the oil from the Coco Caramel provides that grease already.
In the original recipe, the Rice Cake is done at this stage. It is transferred to a bilao – flat round-shaped platter usually made of slatted wood and lined with (smoked) banana leaves and the caramel syrup is poured on top. It sets when it cools down.
Baking the Biko to Finish it Off
Thus this is an optional version but I like to do it this way as I feel the caramel settles on top better when popped in the oven for a few minutes. (See the picture below compared to the picture on top).
Bake in a preheated oven at 325°F for 20-30 minutes or until the Coco Caramel is set or not runny anymore (it will be bubbly before it settles like a frosting on top). Remove from the oven and let it cool down. Cut into squares and serve.
Tips for the Best Biko Recipe
Coco Caramel or Latik
Make sure that the Coco Caramel is thick enough as that topping is one part of what makes it indulgent and rich. Set aside no lesser than 2/3 cup for the topping. It is essential that you have enough oozing caramel as it is the secret to the decadence.
Coating the Rice with Latik or Caramel Sauce
The Coco Caramel must coat each and every grain of rice. Do not stop mixing and folding if you still see white rice sticking out. Only when the rice cake has come together that you have mixed enough. However, mix for another minute or two after until you can see a bit of oil sheen in the rice or in the pan. That coconut oil that started to make an appearance just added another layer of flavour to your rice cake.
As I mentioned I moved the Coconut milk around. In the end, the best Biko rice cake recipe is when rice is cooked with half water and half coconut milk. You already bumped the cooked rice to another level – a Coconut Rice with that milky appearance and coconut-y aroma.
Take note that the Brown Sugar is packed or if you want to be precise, it is 250 grams. If you want it more or less sweet, start with 1/4 cup more or 1/4 cup less. My testers (that is my hubby and my brother) are still good with 1 1/2 cup so it could work for you if you really want it to be sweet. I tried the 1 cup and it lacked the ommmph!
If you love this recipe, please leave a 5 star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below ⬇️ and/or a review in the comment section.
Best Biko Recipe – Sweet & Sticky Rice Cake
This irresistibly indulgent sweet and sticky rice cake is so easy to make and has only three ingredients - glutinous rice, coconut milk and brown sugar.
Making the Coco Caramel
Cooking the Glutinous Rice
Wash the rice as you would but instead of just adding water, add the 1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup water to the 2 cups rice. If you have pandan leaves, put them in the rice before cooking and discard them after the rice is cooked. See above for more instructions and tips on cooking the rice.
Making the Coco Caramel
In a large pan or wok, combine the 2 cups Coconut Milk and 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar. Let it simmer in medium heat with intermittent stirring until the liquid thickens (see video below for a full video demo).
When the caramel has thicken, set aside 2/3 cups of the coco caramel for the topping.
Fold all the rice into the coco caramel until they are mixed thoroughly. Cook in low heat until all the liquid is absorbed by the rice, stirring from time to time so you won't get rice sticking to the pan and burning them.
This is the second cooking of the rice and by this time, the rice will be fully cooked.
If you don't want to bake to finish it off, transfer the Biko Rice Cake in a container. Then pour the reserved Coco Caramel on top of the rice.
Baking to Finish it Off
Prepare an 8x8-inch (9x9 is fine as well) square baking pan and transfer and spread the rice evenly in the pan. Then pour the reserved Coco Caramel on top of the rice.
Bake in a preheated oven at 325°F for 15-20 minutes or until the Coco Caramel has set (it will be bubbly before it settles like a frosting on top).
Remove from oven and let it cool down. Cut into squares and serve.
Serving Size 90 gms
- Amount Per Serving
- Calories 236kcal
- Calories from Fat 89kcal
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 11g17%
- Saturated Fat 9g45%
- Sodium 16mg1%
- Potassium 147mg5%
- Total Carbohydrate 35g12%
- Sugars 24g
- Protein 2g4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption. source: https://nutritiondata.self.com
- If you have access to Pandan leaves, you can add them when you cook the rice. It provides a fragrant, savory-sweet flavor.
- Some people add Vanilla Extract but I don't. I usually keep my recipes lean and minimal, without sacrificing the flavour. For me, the Vanilla doesn't contribute much as the coconut in this recipe has a strong aroma and flavour already.
- There is no wrong or right way of cooking the rice. It depends on personal preference. Some likes the rice in the Biko mushy and clinging together while others would prefer a more solid and harder rice. I for one prefers the mushy type as that is the Biko that I know. The rice will be cooked 3 times anyway. This is the initial cooking. Then it will cooked with the Coco Caramel syrup and afterwards, it will be baked in the oven.
- The rustic way of preparing the glutinous rice cake is on top of (smoked) banana leaves. The smoking makes the leaves limp, thus easier to manage and/or fold plus it allows the leaves to release a fragrant aroma that contributes to the Rice Cake. But if you don't have access to it, it is no biggie.
- I don't grease my pan as the oil from the Coco Caramel provides that grease already.