Rice cakes are common Filipino snacks or what we call “kakanin” or “merienda”. There is a wide variety of rice cakes in many cultures in Asia. These cakes may be made from ground rice, rice flour, or even whole grain rice combined or compressed together with a “binding ingredient.” The most popular rice cakes in the Philippines are Puto (pronounced as “poo-toh”) and Kutsinta (pronounced as “coo-chin-ta”). They are a favourite combination for snacks and also served during fiestas (festivals) or special occasions. The puto is a kind of steamed rice cake. It is traditionally prepared by using a “putuhan” or a steamer which is about 30 to 60 cm. in diameter and has a thickness of about 2 to 5 cm. The steamer is a large ring made from soldered metal sheet built around a perforated pan or it can be made out of strips of bent bamboo enclosing a flat basket with slats of bamboo sticks. The lid is often conical in shape to trap the condensing steam and allow it to drip along the perimeter instead of on the steaming cake. A muslin cloth or a banana leaf is stretch out into the steamer ring then the rice batter is poured directly on it The shape of the traditional puto is round and the size of the “putuhan” or steamer, therefore it is almost looks like a “rice cake pizza” as is it is sliced into triangular portions. The modern day puto are the size of cupcakes and/or muffins because the batter is poured into small round molds or cups. A well prepared puto is soft, moist, has a slightly yeasty aroma and has the essential flavor of freshly cooked rice. “Pandan’ essence is sometimes added for aroma. It is best combined with the some dishes such as the pansit (stir-fry vegetables and noodles) and “dinuguan” (pork blood) dish we Filipinos love. The puto is buttered or sweetened a bit more to be a good “stand alone” snack. It is served with grated coconut curds. The Kutsinta is a sticky and chewy brown colored rice cake. “Lihia” or lye water and annatto water is used in making this delicious dessert. Like the puto, it is also prepared by using small round molds or cups and placed into a steamer. It is also eaten with grated coconut on top. INGREDIENTS FOR BUTTERED PUTO: • 4 cups of flour, sifted • 2 cups sugar, sifted • 2 ½ tbsp. baking powder • 1 cup evaporated milk • 2 ½ cups water • ½ cup butter, melted • 1 raw egg • Small slices of cheese • 4 cups water (for steaming) COOKING PROCEDURE: In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients starting from the flour, sugar and baking powder then mix well. Add the butter, evaporated milk, egg, water and pandan essence (dissolve the pandan essence in water) then mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Pour the mixture in individual molds. Pour the water in the steamer. Arrange the molds in the steamer then steam for about 20 minutes If you are using quick melt cheese, remove the cover of the steamer and top each puto with quick melt cheese then continue steaming (with the cover on) for 2 to 5 minutes If you are using non–quick melt Filipino brand cheese, You may put the cheese on top of the mixture otherwise put the cheese on top after steaming. Remove from the mold and arrange in a serving plate. INGREDIENTS FOR KUTSINTA: • 1 1/2 cup rice flour • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour • 1 cup brown sugar • 3 cups water • 1 1/2 tsp. lye water • 2 tsp. annatto seeds COOKING PROCEDURE: In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients starting from the rice flour, all-purpose flour, and brown sugar then mix all the ingredients. While mixing, add water gradually and continue to mix until all ingredients are completely distributed. Add lye water and annatto water (soak the anatto seed in 3 tbsp. water) then continue mixing. Place the mixture into individual molds and steam for 40 minutes to an hour.