One of the numerous Filipino desserts we enjoyed over the holidays is this rice cake snack made with just 5 ingredients.  I remember enjoying these with my maternal grandmother during our weekend wet market shopping dates when I was still a child.  We’d get up at 4:00 am so we can be at the market before 6:00 am to buy fresh produce, chicken, beef and whatever else was the special that day.  The first thing we did was have breakfast at the snack or  “kakanin” section. Rows and rows of cakes, rice muffins and bread in all shapes, flavors and sizes.  We’d have rice cakes and ginger tea.  That was enough for me to endure hours and hours of checking out meat carcass and poultry afterwards and identifying leafy greens that look like weeds!

My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, was a genius in the kitchen.  I swear I don’t even recognize half of the ingredients she uses to make wonderful dishes.  I learned how to make this kutsinta from her by watching.  No muffin pans or molds, just a bamboo tray (bilao) lined with banana leaves. Although I enjoyed buying and eating them from vendors when I was a child, it is equally satisfying for me to make them at home and share them with friends who come over to visit.


  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp lye water
  • freshly grated coconut for garnish



  1. Prepare steamer.
  2. Combine all the ingredients, except grated coconut,  in a bowl  and mix well. Pour  mixture into muffin pans, until halfway full.
  3. Cover and steam for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Top with freshly grated coconut and serve warm or cold.


Notes:  This recipe made a little over 12 regular sized muffins.  You might be able to make more or less depending on how much batter you pour into the individual pans.

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» Tammy said: { Jan 16, 2010 - 01:01 }

What is lye water?

» Janice said: { Jan 16, 2010 - 01:01 }

Your Kutsinta looks delicious. These are my favorite dessert, I can eat a dozen of these. I wanted to make this over the holidays but I didn’t know where to get lye. I’ll keep looking. Is there a substitute for lye water?

» virtual chef said: { Jan 16, 2010 - 02:01 }

tammy and janice: lye water can be found in asian stores and often used in asian desserts. it is a mixture of water and sodium hydroxide. i sometimes buy a bottle from amazon.com. i don’t know of any substitute. i did try to make the kutsinta without it and it is not the same at all. :(

» Manny said: { Jan 16, 2010 - 04:01 }

Asian Seafood Market in Henderson NV has one, if that helps, and if youre in the area :-)

» Andrea said: { Jan 16, 2010 - 11:01 }

Interesting- and here I thought lye was just for lutefisk! lol, I love the story about your childhood- thanks for sharing! I’m going to have to see if my asian vendors have that lye water- do you have a brand? I wonder if it can be used to prepare lutefisk? I cannot obtain caustic soda as it is now classified as a dangerous chemical and only manufacturers can use it. progress…

» Alta said: { Jan 17, 2010 - 05:01 }

Wow, so caramelly! Yum!

» jane parsanlall said: { Sep 24, 2010 - 06:09 }

the kutsinta we tried to cook is wet on top…what went wrong?is it the water we placed in the steamer for steaming or what?thank you….now a days,,,we need extra income he he he

» jane parsanlall said: { Sep 24, 2010 - 07:09 }

we tried to cook kutsinta,the problem is the finished product is wet on top.where lies the problem,is it the amount of water we placed in the steamer for steaming or what?in times like thise, we need sidelines…help!!!!thank you

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