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Blond Chocolate Biko by Chef Nouel Omamalin

Chef Nouel Omamalin says his favorite recipes in "Cuisinero: Taste of the Philippines" are his takes on biko, both because biko "brings back so many memories" and because it got him to the semifinals at the 2018 Valrhona Chocolate Chef Competition in France. Biko also happens to be one of my favorite Filipino sweets — it's the only kakanin my lola taught me to make before she moved back to the Philippines — so I tried one of Omamalin's recipes. To a standard coconut-based biko, he adds a liberal amount of Valrhona Dulcey, a "blond" chocolate made by caramelizing white. The result, topped with Luzon-style latik (coconut curds) just like my lola used to make, is both novel and familiar, luxurious and comforting — just the kind of thing we all need right now.

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 40 minutes + rice soaking time
Baking time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

My amateur take.

For the rice:
2 cups glutinous rice
For the Dulcey coconut sauce:
1 3/4 cups coconut milk
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
2.5 tablespoons coconut sugar
4.5 oz Valrhona 32% Dulcey chocolate, melted
1/3 tsp kosher salt
For the Blond Coconut ganache:
3/4 cup + 2.5 tablespoons coconut cream
1/2 cup raw sugar
3.5 oz Valrhona 32% Dulcey chocolate

1. Soak the rice in water for at least 8 hours. The longer you soak, the softer the rice will become. I prefer my biko to have a bite -- the al dente quality.
2. While waiting for the rice to be ready, you can prepare the Dulcey-coconut mixture ahead. Simply combine the coconut milk, vanilla bean and coconut sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Let it cook for around 2 more minutes to release more of the coconut flavor and lightly caramelize the whole mixture. Remove from heat and add the melted blond chocolate and salt. Keep the mixture covered and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, make the Blond Coconut ganache. Bring the coconut cream and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and pour in the chocolate. Stir until homogenized. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 340F.
4. Once the glutinous rice is well-soaked, drain the liquid and steam in a cheesecloth-lined steamer. Cook the rice for at least 15 minutes. The longer you steam, the softer the rice becomes.
5. Once the rice is cooked, place it in a deep bowl. Heat the prepared Dulcey coconut sauce and pour into the rice. With a rubber spatula, gently combine in a folding motion, avoiding the rice from getting mashed up.
6. Place in a greaseproof paper-lined square pan, around 9" in size and 2" deep. You may also use wilted banana leaves for better flavor.
7. Flatten the top of the rice and pour the Blond Coconut ganache on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the ganache has begun setting. Let it cool down completely before cutting into portions. In the pictured a la carte version, I have used dried latik, Dulcey chocolate decor and grated Dulcey chocolate. 

This recipe originally appeared in "Cuisinero: Taste the Philippines," published by WG Magazines. A version appears in Positively Filipino magazine. 

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