Do you start the New Year with family traditions? I did when I made round-shaped kakanin (rice cakes) like this sweet Black Kutsinta, the darker version of the classic orange-hued Filipino kutsinta.
On a trip to the Philippines, pre-pandemic, I saw Black Kutsinta (say “ku-chin-ta”), sold in snack stands. I was curious about its flavor and popularity. It was a novelty to me. I was interested on how to make the kutsinta dark, nearly black. It took several attempts in my kitchen. Till I finally found the post of Ang Sarap food blogger, Raymund on Instagram. His recipe was my guide. It was easy to follow, substituting an ingredient or two.
After the holiday cooking, we needed something simpler to snack on, for merienda, in-between meals, while streaming movies or catching up on reading. The Black Kutsinta was a good fit.
Steaming on the stovetop took only a few minutes. And even less time in the Instant Pot. The suggested toppings were coconut flakes and homemade Dulce de Leche. I added a third topping: Coconut jam, which was like a combination of the coconut and dulce de leche. It was sublime.
This type of kutsinta is not what you’d expect. For the unfamiliar, the classic orange kutchinta uses achuete (annatto). I share recipes in two of my cookbooks: Instant Filipino Recipes and How To Cook Philippine Desserts, Cakes and Snacks (Amazon). The black version used blackstrap molasses. My black kutsinta’s texture was just as chewy, and gummy-licious as the traditional orange original. This darker one was less sweet. The slight tinge of a faint bitterness from the blackstrap molasses becomes unnoticed when you slather on the creamy dulce de leche or sweet coco jam. Sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes and it’s like heaven on earth.
Start the new year easy, on a light, cheery note. We have much to be grateful for. My wish for you, dear friends, is that you have many happy days in the coming year. But if difficult days come, may you meet them with optimism, and move through them with love. A very Happy Healthy New Year! Manigong Bagong Taon, mga kaibigan!
Black Kutsinta - Instant Pot + Stovetop
- Large 3-tiered steamer - for stovetop cooking
- Instant Pot - 6 or 8 quarts
- Round molds - 2-inch sized in diameter; use non-stick
For the Black Kutsinta
- 1 cup potato starch
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons lye water
- 2 cups water
- dessicated coconut flakes, toasted
- Dulce de Leche, bottled or homemade
- coconut jam, bottled
To cook stovetop:
- Prepare the round molds by individually greasing them with cooking spray. Set aside.Prepare the steamer by filling the bottom pot with water that's 3/4 full. Over high heat, start boiling the water. Keep pot covered so it boils faster.Meanwhile, start mixing the kutsinta.
- In a large bowl, combine together the ingredients: Potato starch, flour, molasses, lye water and water. Mix well with a wire whisk till smooth and there are no more lumps.
- Pour the kutsinta batter into each mold, filling it 3/4 full. Place the molds inside the second layer of the steamer (the one with holes). Arrange the molds side by side, without overlapping.
- Place the second tier of the steamer over the boiling water. Cover the kutsinta with a clean kitchen towel. Then place the steamer's cover over it.Steam the Black Kuchinta for 20 minutes.
- To check if cooked completely, prick the center of each kutsinta with the tip of a small knife. If tip comes clean, kutsinta is done.Let the kutsinta cool on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, unmold each one on a dessert platter. Serve with toppings of either Dulce de Leche or coconut jam. Top each one with coconut flakes.Toasted coconut flakes: Serve the coconut flakes in its original fresh form. Or toast the flakes in a small, non-stick skillet, over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Do not leave unattended or it burns fast. Remove from heat and set aside.
To cook in the Instant Pot:
- Combine all the ingredients for Black Kutsinta in a large mixing bowl.Using a wire whisk, mix till thick liquid is smooth and there are no lumps.Pour the batter into individual, pre-greased molds. Place these molds in a steamer basket that fits in the Instant Pot. Place the steamer basket over a trivet.Fill the Instant Pot inside with 2 to 3 cups of water. Water should reach the sides of the steamer basket.
- Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.Click Manual + HIgh Pressure + 10 minutes.
- When buzzer sounds to announce cooking is over, do a Quick Release.Unlock and uncover the lid carefully, setting it on a dry surface by the counter. Click Cancel. Unplug the Instant Pot if you are done cooking.Use silicone mitts and long tongs to remove the steamer basket from the inside pot.
- Let the Black Kutsinta cool on counter. Then, unmold the kutsinta on dessert platters, served with suggested toppings.
Notes on the Instant Pot:
- It takes about 17 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat before cooking time begins.For safety, use accessories recommended for the Instant Pot. Read the manual for complete information.Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multicooker that cooks in high and low pressure. This is not an ad. My opinions are my own. I was not paid to endorse the brand.
- In the original recipe, Raymund of Ang Sarap used tapioca flour. I did not have this ingredient when I cooked these kutsinta, and I used potato starch instead.Lye water (lihiya) is sodium hydroxide, an alkaline subtance used in cooking to improve texture and color. It is what gives the kutsinta the gel-like consistency.Blackstrap is not the same as true molasses. While the regular molasses has a reddish hue, and acidic sweetness, the blackstrap molasses is inky-colored, salty and slightly bitter. A complete comparison is found in Serious Eats.
Dulce de Leche recipe:
- A recipe for homemade Dulce de Leche is found here on my previous blog post for Yema Cupcakes. CLICK HERE.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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