Recipe: Carioca (Chewy, sweet rice balls)

Here’s a quick and easy Filipino recipe for a crunchy, sweet, chewy rice-dough ball served with a brown sugar and coconut milk syrup/glaze. It’s great for when unexpected guests pop in. Or for yourself if you’re planning a Hulu-binge.

 photo Carioca ingredients_zps50hyk6u8.jpg
So simple.


1 1/2 cups of coconut milk
2 cups of sweet rice flour
pinch of salt (less than 1/8 tsp)

1/3 cup of coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar

Oil for frying

 photo Carioca batter 2_zps61jars65.jpg
Mix just until it looks like school paste.



  1. Mix the batter by combining the salt, 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, and sweet rice flour. It’ll look like you’re mixing pancake batter until the flour absorbs the milk, then it’ll look like elementary school paste.
  2. Pour oil into a saucepan to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Heat on medium-high until it’s hot enough for frying. While waiting, contemplate how you could’ve done this step first and mixed the batter while the oil was heating up.
  3. Fry the batter by easing spoonfuls of it into the hot oil. This is not a “roll into a ball” dough, nor a “pourable” batter, but something in between. I do this step by scooping a ball (about the size of my thumb) with a normal tablespoon, putting the dough into the hot oil, and scraping it off the spoon with a heat-resistant silicone spatula.
  4. Once you’ve got a saucepan-full of batter balls frying, get out another saucepan to start the sauce/glaze.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup coconut milk and 1 cup of brown sugar into the second saucepan. Heat just to a boil, then simmer for about a minute, then take it off the heat and let it cool slightly.
  6. Continue frying batter.
 photo Carioca fried_zpsk9mwophb.jpg
Fry until golden. Lego Dr. Hibbert for scale.

Once you’ve fried all the batter into balls, you can serve in two ways:

  1. If you or your guests will eat these immediately, you can plate the fried balls and sauce separately. Eat by using a fork to dip balls into the sauce. I like this method because it’s informal, it keeps your fingers from getting sticky, and everyone can choose how much sauce/sweetness they want.
  2. If it’ll be a while before these get eaten, like at a party or for dessert, you must use the sauce as a glaze. Stick the balls on skewers and ladle sauce over them, or put them all on a dish and ladle sauce over them. The important thing to remember is that the sauce hardens when it gets cold, and you won’t be able to dip balls into them.
 photo Carioca final_zpsllnlfts1.jpg
Carioca. Lego Gollum for scale.

Hope you try making these for yourself. Let me know how they turn out!

Connect with me by leaving a comment below, Twitter (@JoanWIP), or Facebook.

Hang out in my mental playground! My short are stories available on Amazon, Fresh Cuts: Breaking Volume. 

Craving more sweet things? Check out my flan recipe!


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