Filipino sweets and desserts are my weakness. After dinner, my mother would sometimes make Bitsu Bitsu, a quick dessert of caramel covered, deep-fried dough balls made from rice flour and water. It is one of my favorites — deep fried and crunchy with carmel sugar on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. I remember when my mom would deep fry these. Sometimes a few of the dough balls would “pop.” So, for the longest time, I resisted making this dessert because when I used to made them, all of them “popped.” Then, my mom gave me a tip to frying the dough balls: Put just enough vegetable oil in a large frying pan to cover the dough balls. Make sure that when you fry them, the oil is ready. She tested the oil by putting a piece of dough in the pan. If the dough sizzled and rose to the top, then it was ready for use. Place dough balls in the pan, but don’t overcrowd. No more popping.
- 2 cups rice flour
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cold water
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, mix rice flour and coconut milk. Slowly add water, little by little, until a dough is formed — soft, but not too sticky. You may not have to use all of the water. Using your hands, break off small pieces of the dough (about 1 tablespoon) and roll between your palms to form balls. Place dough balls on wax or parchment paper. In a large frying pan, heat enough oil for deep frying over medium heat. Test the oil by gently dropping a small piece of dough into the pan. If the dough sizzles gently, the oil is ready. Place the dough balls in the pan. Fry until golden brown. Place the fried dough balls on paper towels to drain excess oil. Meanwhile, mix water and brown sugar in a small sauce pan until dissolved. Heat mixture until it reaches the soft boil stage and when a drop of carmelized sugar dropped in a bowl of water forms into a ball. While the dough balls are still warm, place a handful in a medium bowl and pour the carmelized sugar over them. Toss to coat the dough balls. Place on a baker’s rake or platter to cool. Repeat until all dough balls are coated in sugar. Serve immediately.