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