One of the first things I eat whenever we go home to visit are the “kakanin” (native delicacies). I would go to the market early in the morning and feast my eyes on the myriad of colorful delights neatly arranged on banana leaf-lined bilao (shallow bamboo baskets). It’s difficult to choose so I always end up buying more than what my whole family can eat. Nothing goes to waste because I happily eat all the leftovers.
I have a number of these delicacies written down like the Palengke-Style Sapin Sapin, Biko with Latik, Purple Biko, Suman sa Lihia, Puto, Puto Bumbong, Bibingka (and a few more) but I barely scratched the surface. There are tons of these kakanins made throughout the Philippines. I just wish that someday I’ll be able to taste more of the kinds that are local to some regions which are still unfamiliar to me.
This is a very straightforward recipe. Just mix and steam until done. Some use annatto powder for coloring but my family always rely on the natural color of the brown sugar. Use the dark brown sugar (like I did) to achieve a browner hue. I have made this recipe with both light and dark, depending on what I have available and honestly, I don’t see much of a difference. Nowadays, Filipinos are getting creative with the toppings. Aside from the good old freshly grated coconut, dulce de leche is used. With the absence of fresh coconuts (I don’t fancy the frozen), I lightly toast unsweetened shredded coconut in a dry pan then add a mound of it on top. This time, I got curious about the dulce de leche and tried it too. It was so good! No wonder it’s a thing.
- Fine strainer
- Kutsinta molds
- Pastry brush
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
- 3 cups water
- 1 ¾ teaspoons lihia lye water
- Oil for brushing the molds
- ⅔ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted* see Notes
- Dulce de Leche for topping (optional)
- Mix the flour, brown sugar, water and lihia in a large bowl with a whisk. Strain to make sure the mixture is smooth. Brush the molds with oil then set aside. Preheat the steamer. I wrap a kitchen towel under the lid to catch drips from condensation.
- Once the water under the steamer starts boiling, lower the heat to medium-low. Position the oiled molds on the steamer. Stir the kutchinta mixer once again to make sure everything’s well combined. Fill the molds to about ¾ full then cover and cook for 30-40 minutes or until totally set.
- Unmold and serve with toasted coconut, dulce de leche or freshly grated coconut (if available).