These little cakes are as well known for their shape as well as their taste. Puto, or putuhan, are the names of these little cakes as well as their steamer. Since these little cakes take on the shape of their steamer, the two of them are complimentary. You steam a puto by placing the rice balls into the steamer and covering it with a cheese cloth, or banana leaves (if available). If you'd like to skip the steamer, you can also bake them in the oven using a muffin pan.
Like any simple recipe, Puto varies from cook to cook so stick with the basics and add your own flavors. Some things to keep in mind before preparing your next puto: 1) Would you like them as a dessert or a snack? This will determine their sweetness. 2) Would you like to eat them alone or alongside an entrée? This will determine their taste and texture. Go ahead. Sit back and visualize the puto you'd like to eat.
Sweet. Try combining sticky rice with your glutinous rice. Since puto cooks well with rice soaked overnight, you can throw in some vanilla, coconut, or cinnamon.
Side Dish. Throw in a touch of anise water (3 parts water, 1 part anise) while soaking the rice. If you're using pre-made rice flour, throw in some anise water when you're mixing your water, baking powder, salt, etc. Bake a touch longer than normal to make the puto dry, so its good for dipping.
Main Snack. Throw in some pandan leaves when soaking, anise water when mixing and keep them moist when baking.
Want some puto recipes? Click here. Since I prefer savory snacks over sweet ones, I like our puto cheese recipe but I'd replace the all purpose flour with rice and tapioca four mixed together. Top with cheese and anything else that comes to mind...