Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes) are pillowy-soft, chewy rice cakes coated with grated coconut and topped with a sugar mixture. You can make them in less than 10 minutes with just a few ingredients!
You may also like Cassava Cake, a Filipino dessert with a similar soft and slightly chewy texture.
Ingredients you'll need
Notes and substitutions
- Glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour): Made from glutinous or sticky rice called malagkit in Filipino. Despite its name, it is gluten-free and not sweet at all.
- Grated coconut: Freshly grated coconut is ideal. In the US, frozen grated coconut is sold in Asian supermarkets. You can also use desiccated coconut, which is finer than coconut shreds or flakes.
- Coconut sugar: This is an unrefined sugar with a lower glycemic index you can use in place of granulated sugar. It tastes similar to brown sugar with a mild caramel flavor.
How to make this recipe
(1)Add ⅓ cup of peanuts to a coffee grinder, a mini food processor, or a resealable bag and a rolling pin. (2)Coarsely grind them.
(3)Over medium heat, toast ¼ cup of sesame seeds until lightly browned and fragrant for about 2 minutes. Let them cool.
(4)Combine ⅓ cup coconut sugar, ground peanuts, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Set it aside.
(5)In a medium bowl, mix 2 cups glutinous rice flour and 1 cup of water until a dough forms. It should leave an indentation when pressed with your fingers. If too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add a little water until you get the right consistency.
(6)Scoop the dough using a 1-ounce cookie scoop equivalent to 2 tablespoons and place it on your lightly floured hand or on a baking sheet.
(7)Press in between the palm of your hands until about ½-inch thick, or press it with the back of a spoon.
(8)Drop the dough into the boiling water. It is ready when it starts to float! It only takes a minute or two to cook. Take it out and drain the excess water.
(9)Coat with grated coconut on both sides. (10)Top with a heaping tablespoon of the sugar mixture.
How to store and reheat
Store leftover Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes) in the fridge for up to 2 days or longer if you use dried coconut. Freshly grated coconut tends to spoil quickly.
You can also freeze them and add the sugar mixture right before serving. The sugar melts and starts to look unappetizing when added too soon.
To reheat palitaw, microwave for about a minute until soft and chewy. You can also do it on a steamer or in the toaster oven wrapped in foil.
Frequently asked questions
Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes) is a popular snack or dessert in the Philippines made with glutinous rice flour. It has a soft, chewy texture similar to Japanese mochi. It gets its name from the Filipino word litaw, which means "to float" as it rises to the surface when cooked.
No, though they are both gluten-free and neutral in taste. Rice flour is made from the same white rice we eat with our meals. Glutinous rice flour is made from sticky rice or sweet rice. It has a chewy texture and is more commonly used in desserts.
Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes) is supposed to be dense and chewy, so don't worry about overworking the dough. Glutinous rice flour does not contain gluten. The dough should be smooth and pliable, similar to Play-Doh.
More about palitaw (sweet rice cakes)
I’ve rounded up more frequently asked questions on Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes), including extra tips, troubleshooting, and substitutions.
Watch how I make it here
Other dessert recipes you may like
Did you make this recipe? I would love to know! Your feedback helps me make better recipes. Please rate, review, or comment below. Questions about this recipe are welcome, too!
Let's connect on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, and Youtube. Be sure to tag me when you try any of my recipes @recipesbynora!
Palitaw (Sweet Rice Cakes)
- Measuring cups and bowls
- Saucepan or pot
- Mini-food processor or chopper (optional)
- 1-ounce cookie scoop (optional)
- Slotted spoon (optional)
- ⅓ cup unsalted peanuts shelled and skinned; coarsely ground
- ¼ cup sesame seeds white or black; toasted
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar sub:any kind of sugar
- 2 cups glutinous rice flour 2 to 3 tablespoons more, as needed
- 1 cup water
- 2½ cups fresh or frozen grated coconut sub:desiccated coconut
- Combine coconut sugar, ground peanuts, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix glutinous rice flour and a cup of water until a dough forms. It should leave an indentation when pressed with your fingers. If too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add a little water until you get the right consistency.
- Scoop the dough using a 1-ounce cookie scoop equivalent to 2 tablespoons and place it on your lightly floured hand or on a baking sheet.
- Press in between the palm of your hands until about ½-inch thick, or press it with the back of a spoon.
- Drop the dough into the boiling water. It is ready when it starts to float! It only takes a minute or two to cook.
- Take it out and drain the excess water.
- Coat with grated coconut on both sides.
- Top with a heaping tablespoon of the sugar mixture.
Miss having this dessert. Now I know how to make palitaw.