Archived entries for the sweet

Palitaw (sweet rice dumplings with
sesame sugar and coconut)


Recently my friend Justine posted a link to a Korean dessert called gyung-dan, which are basically little chewy cakes of rice flour, sometimes filled with sweet bean paste, and rolled in sesame seeds. Right away this made me think of palitaw, one of my favorite Filipino kakanin, or desserts. Palitaw is boiled sweet rice flour (no filling) that is then coated in sugar, toasted sesame seeds and, in the usual Filipino tropical twist, grated coconut.

This is the easiest dessert ever to make if you have the ingredients on hand. You will need sweet rice flour, such as Mochiko. Some (like my mother, of course) would argue that to make proper palitaw you really should soak sweet rice, then make it into a paste. Frankly, I will admit that with this step, I probably would never make palitaw myself, so I’ll stick to the Mochiko. She did convince me, however, of the worthwhile step of grinding the toasted sesame seeds with the sugar to “get the most sesame flavor from it”. She is right about that.

For the grated coconut, ideally you would have fresh grated coconut extracted with one of these dangerous bad boys (The way it works is you sit on the grater on a low stool, and hold the coconut and grate it with the sharp metal bit. Why do I call it dangerous? My auntie, as a child, ran into one of these, resulting in a huge bloody gash. I guess the moral of the story is don’t run in the house when there are coconut graters lying around.)

If you don’t have access to fresh coconut, check the freezer at the Asian grocery, or use desiccated (non-sweetened) coconut as I have here.

Finally, make sure to eat the palitaw right away. There’s basically no point if it isn’t piping hot; after that it gets insanely chewy and soggy. But when it’s fresh, it’s a little piece of tropical heaven.

serves 4

2 cups (300g) sweet rice flour (such as Mochiko)
3/4 cup (180ml) water
1 cup (90g) grated coconut
1/2 cup(100g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

  1. Stir the flour and water in a bowl until smooth. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and flatten slightly into patties.
  2. In a food processor, combine the sesame seeds and sugar. Set aside in a shallow dish (you will roll the patties in them after they’ve been cooked. Set the grated coconut in a separate shallow dish (also for coating the patties later).
  3. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Drop the palitaw into the boiling water. Cook until they float to the surface.
  4. Roll them right away in the sugar-sesame mixture, then in the grated coconut. Serve immediately.

Nutella steamed pudding


Although my favorite way to eat Nutella is slathered on bread, I thought for World Nutella Day (four years old this year, I might add!) I would combine two of my favorite things: steamed pudding and Nutella.

Steamed pudding is basically a cake that is steamed rather than baked, then turned out onto a plate. What’s great is that it never gets really dry, so it’s moist and gooey, and often times light.

Usually a 4-5 quart heatproof bowl is the tool of choice for steaming the pudding in. This then needs to be set inside a larger pot that can accommodate water about halfway up the sides of the bowl.

Lucky for me, I have a steam oven (great for making siopao, by the way!), so I just set a large heatproof dish with a cover directly in the oven. For traditional steaming, the pudding bowl needs to be prepared properly. These instructions from the BBC are the best I’ve seen for preparing a steamed pudding.

This pudding is more like a souffle, and the Nutella taste is subtle in the light airy texture. To dress it up, you can prepare a little Nutella sauce, but I’m happy eating it with a spoonful of sweetened creme fraiche.

Nutella steamed pudding
serves 4-6
Recipe tip: Because Nutella actually doesn’t have a lot of chocolate (or hazelnut for that matter), the taste is really subtle when you bake with it. What I have found, however, is that if you make your own gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut mixture), you really boost the intensity of chocolatey-hazelnutty flavor. There’s a great recipe at the Cook and Eat blog. Give it a shot!

1 cup (240ml) Nutella
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
4 tablespoons (50g) butter (plus more for greasing the bowl)
pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated: yolks in one bowl, whites in another
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup (65g) sugar
1/4 cup (35g) flour

  1. Grease the bowl generously with butter.
  2. In a small heavy pan, heat the cream, butter and salt over medium low. Lower the heat to low and add the Nutella. Whisk together until totally combined. Set aside until just a bit warm.
  3. Add the egg yolks to a large bowl and whisk until a bit frothy. Pour the Nutella mixture into the eggs, whisking while you add it so the eggs don’t curdle.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white with an electric mixer. When the egg whites start looking foamy, add the cream of tartar and the sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks form, but don’t let it dry out.
  5. Stir in about a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk and Nutella mixture. Gently fold the rest of the egg whites in with a spatula. Sprinkle on the flour and gently fold that in as well.
  6. Prepare the steamed pudding (as directed in the video link above). Set a tea towel in the bottom of a huge pot that will hold the pudding bowl. Add the bowl and pour boiling water until halfway up the sides of the bowl. Set over medium low heat (until the water is simmering) and cover the pot. (You may need to add water part of the way through)
  7. Steam the pudding for an hour. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. This is a good time to prepare the Nutella sauce, if you are making it.

Nutella sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) Nutella
3 tablespoons boiling water

Add the Nutella to a medium-sized bowl. While whisking, pour the boiling water over the Nutella. It may seize up at first, but as the water gets incorporated, it will become smooth again.

Sweetened creme fraiche
1/2 cup (120ml) creme fraiche
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the creme fraiche, sugar and vanilla. Stir together until smooth.

Cook and Eat: DIY Nutella
World Nutella Day
Ms. Adventures in Italy
Bleeding Espresso

Brown-butter Blondies


Whenever I crave sweets and want to bake something quickly, but don’t want to OD on chocolate, I make blondies. And when I think about making blondies, my train of thought goes to Blondie, which then goes to Heart of Glass, which is an audio parasite that immediately embeds itself into my brain for several days.

And now that will happen to you. You can thank me later.

But at least while Heart of Glass is circling its way through your head, you can be eating classic blondies. They satisfy the sweet tooth: sweet, chewy with a hit of chocolate and salt.

I’ve realized that the step that takes these to the next level is browning the butter. It gives the bars a richer, nuttier flavor. I add chopped pecans to complement the flavor, but you can leave them out if you choose. I use half white chocolate and half dark chocolate because it looks great, but you can substitute with all dark chocolate if you prefer, and which I sometimes do.

Classic Blondies
makes 16 bars

1 stick butter (110g, or ½ cup) (I use salted butter)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (220g)
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour (140g)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (50g) white chocolate chunks
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped pecans (60g) (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (170 C). Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper. This will make the bars easier to remove when you are ready to cut into them.
  2. Melt the butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue heating until it smells really nutty and fragrant and you start seeing browned bits of milk solids in the butter (be careful not to burn it).
  3. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar and allow to cool until just warm. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and whisk until combined. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes – be careful not to overbake, so they don’t dry out. The top should be shiny.
  6. Remove to a cooling rack. When it’s cooled to room temperature, remove from the pan and cut into squares.



As a Filipino-American child, what is one of the greatest things about waking up in the morning? You have the privilege of eating chocolate and rice for breakfast.

Chomporado, or chocolate rice porridge, is served hot with lots of sugar and milk to taste. My mom likes to eat it with heavy cream, and some like to eat it with evaporated or condensed milk (staying true to the Filipino love of canned dairy products.) Me? I like it with a spoonful of crème fraiche. Soooo good.

Often this porridge is eaten with salty dried fish such as dilis or daing. I never have, but can understand the appeal of the sweet and salty together.

The legend is that Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, invented champorado as a use for leftover rice. I’m not really buying it because I have never met anyone who uses anything other than glutinous rice to make this dish. But I definitely like the story: a national hero who, as a child, invented one of the greatest breakfast foods ever. Only in the Philippines!

Glutinous rice, also known as sweet rice or sticky rice, is typically prepared steamed in Asian dishes such as Thai coconut sticky rice with mango, a dessert that is as delicious as it sounds. It is far starchier than regular rice, thus making it the perfect rice for porridge as it becomes thick while cooking. (My favorite Filipino dessert, suman, which is coconut rice wrapped in banana leaves, is also made using glutinous rice).

For champorado, the rice is boiled with water and dissolved cocoa powder is added. I find the Dutch-process cocoa powder makes for a really rich chocolately color and taste. Usually the sugar is added to taste at the table, along with the milk, but in this recipe, I’ve added a bit of sugar with the rice while cooking. I prefer it this way because I don’t have to add more sugar at the table as I don’t like it too sweet, but my kids always add more sugar.

The whole thing takes about 20 minutes to make and is perfect for a cold winter morning.

Serves 4

1 cup (200g) glutinous rice (I don’t rinse it, but it is up to you – a single rinse to clean it should suffice)
4 cups (1 L) water
¼ teastpoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa dissolved in ¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, sugar, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Give it a stir and lower heat to medium low and simmer, covered for 15 minutes. Every few minutes, give it a stir. It may cook faster than 15 minutes; basically, you are looking for it to be thick, and the rice to be cooked through, not gritty in the middle. (I definitely check it at the 10 minute mark; lots of times it takes about 12 minutes to cook through.)
  3. While the rice is cooking, whisk the ¼ cup boiling water into the cocoa powder in a small bowl. When it’s cooled a bit, whisk in the vanilla.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, whisk the cocoa mixture into the rice mixture. Cook, uncovered, over medium low for another 5 minutes until the cocoa has absorbed into the porridge.
  5. Serve with sugar and milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, half and half, heavy cream crème fraiche, or whatever dairy product you like best. You’re the boss!

Glutinous rice


Last blast of summer:
Fresh spearmint ice cream


We just moved house, but in our old garden, we had an entire section of mint. If you plant mint in the right sort of soil (moist, with a fair amount of sun), it will grow like gangbusters. (That word is weirdly Hudsucker Proxy. Gangbusters I tell yas!!) Basically, it will grow like well, weeds.

If so, that is a true bounty. One of the best uses for those massive amounts of mint is a fresh mint ice cream.

This is based on a recipe from Martha Stewart, but I adjusted it to my usual custard-based ice cream ratio. I like more egg yolks; it makes the custard extra smooth and creamy.

Expect a very different flavor than the mint ice cream you might buy at the grocery. I recommend spearmint for this, as it has a milder flavor than peppermint. The ice cream has huge mint flavor, but it is the herbal, slightly grassy flavor of fresh mint.

Fresh, tasty and incredibly refreshing on a hot August day.

Fresh spearmint ice cream
adapted from
Makes 1 quart

1-1/2 cups whole milk (350ml)
2 cups heavy cream (500ml)
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (175g)
a pinch of salt
1 cup of loosely packed spearmint

  1. Prepare an ice-water bath. Cook mint in a small saucepan of boiling water until bright green, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mint to ice-water bath. When cool, drain, and squeeze out excess water.
  2. Puree mint and milk in a blender until mint is finely chopped. (The milk will turn a pretty pale green.) Transfer to a medium saucepan, add cream, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar and the pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Gradually whisk 1/3 of the cream mixture into the egg mixture, then pour egg-cream mixture into the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture. Set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 8 minutes. The temperature should be between 170-180F (76-82C).
  5. Strain through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing on mint to extract liquid. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours (or up to 1 week).


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