My childhood summers involved regular weekend beach trips, biking from afternoon ’til night with 10 of my cousins and friends, good food (lots of Lechon!), and chewing on balikutsa. I had totally forgotten about it, save for some cravings here and there, but truth be told I haven’t really eaten balikutsa (coconut toffee) since high school. Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten a stick in 20+ years!

What is Balikutsa?

It’s coconut toffee, basically. It’s a sweet snack/dessert that is always handmade with a recipe that is passed on from generation to generation. I first tasted this delicious snack in Cabadbaran City, my hometown in Agusan del Norte, where I used to spend my two months of summer vacation like clockwork. I understand (after doing some light research on Google) that other provinces have their own versions of this very addicting dessert.

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Here’s a quick background story: While in Cabadbaran City visiting my Dad, I woke up one day looking for Mart (Dad’s helper) and found him over the stove frantically cooking something. I was a little bit annoyed because he was ignoring me, until I went over to him and asked: “What are you doing ba?!” He said he’s cooking balikutsa for me. In true Kira fashion, I didn’t believe him (I am naturally dubious of poeple, haha) until I looked over his shoulder and saw the warm sticky toffee! He said he wanted to surprise us — and thank you, Cathy, for arranging all of this. Oh my god, I wanted to cry!

How to make Balikutsa

I wasn’t privy to Mart’s own recipe but it’s mainly made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and nuts. Yes, it’s not the healthiest of desserts but I tell you, it is pretty damn satisfying.

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Because the texture is extremely thick and sticky, locals usually pour the hot mixture onto a banana leaf or banana trunk/stalk. No need to use greased paper as the balikutsa mixture will just slide right off both.

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Next, cut up cellophane into strips, put the mixture in, and carefully roll the hot balikutsa. We didn’t have cellophane that day and used colored paper instead.

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While I was told that some people in our province still make balikutsa, the fact that it is made by rolling it between palms means you should buy only from a reputable maker, or a relative for sanitary purposes.

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So, here’s the finished product! Since I can only eat so much, I shared this with friends from City Hall, my cousins who are visiting (and who equally missed this childhood treat), to my young nephews, and even brought some home to Manila.

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Have you tried the tasty and addicting Balikutsa? Do you have your own recipe?