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RECIPE: Chef Alvin Cailan’s Bibingka (Coconut-Rice Cake) with Philly Cream Cheese

Bibingka (Coconut-Rice Cake) from “AMBOY: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream” by Alvin Cailan | Photo by Wyatt Conlon

Excerpted from AMBOY: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream © 2020 by Alvin Cailan. Photography © 2020 by Wyatt Conlon. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Serves 6

The first time I met Auntie Cita, she brought this dish as a gift for my parents. It looked different from any other bibingka I had ever seen. It was unassuming: a round pie tin wrapped in banana leaves. I took a bite and it blew my mind. Every single mouthful had cream cheese. The texture was almost like cornbread with a really sugary topping. I tried it with a salted duck egg, and it was even better. The combination of salt, egg, and cream cheese was incredible.

Obviously and gratefully, my parents hired Auntie Cita. Over the years, she became the main caterer in our area. That bibingka with Philly cream cheese was her specialty. She made her own dry mix for the bibingka batter. She would line all these round cake molds with banana leaves, pour the batter in, and bake them off. Then, she would dip the bibingka in niyog, or freshly shaved young coconut meat, for that perfect textural touch.

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