Don't pout, say Cheese!
Elena Peña (The Freeman) - May 18, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — This one is not really about cheese. Well, cheese is part of it, though. It’s not about a nice smile for a selfie, either. But, no doubt, its yumminess is going to elicit a smile.

The current undertaking of my good neighbors Ricky and Rosie inspire this feature. The couple has been lately quite busy in their home-based enterprise with puto cheese. They’re busy because the demand for their product is rising, and it looks like a very promising business.

“Puto” is a widely familiar snack among Filipinos. The plain puto is good to pair with savory dishes like “dinuguan” (pork blood stew) or “pancit” (rice noodle). It is traditionally made from rice, water, and sugar that are stone-grinded together to make the batter.

As rice flour is now easily available, people experiment a lot with “puto,” particularly in terms of taste and extra ingredients. Puto cheese is just one of the resulting puto variants. Some people forgo with rice – including rice flour – altogether in making puto; they use all-purpose flour instead. 

But Ricky and Rosie would not reveal whether they use rice flour or all-purpose flour. They’re quite secretive at this point in time, saying that they’re still experimenting. Their puto cheese, as it is now, is already quite special and yet they’re still continually trying to improve it. Neighbors and officemates who have tried it wonder what their ‘secret’ ingredient is.

Since my couple friends are not yet ready to share their puto cheese recipe (they’re kind enough to share photos, though), the following recipe from Vanjo Merano, at www.panlasangpinoy.com, may be tried at home instead:

Puto Cheese

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated white sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup fresh milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

5 cups water (for steaming)

Procedure:

1. Pour the water into a steamer or cooking pot. Let boil.

2. Sift flour, sugar, and baking powder. Combine in a bowl. Mix well.

3. Gradually add the milk while stirring. Continue to stir until the texture of the mixture becomes smooth.

4. Stir-in the vanilla extract and half of the cheese.

5. Pour the mixture into small to medium sized molds. Arrange in a steamer. Cover and steam for 25 minutes. Top each puto with the remaining cheese. Steam for five minutes more.

6. Take the steamed cheese puto out of the steamer. Let it cool down.

7. Gently remove the puto from the mold with the help of a spatula.

8. Arrange in serving plate. Serve.

Share and enjoy!

CHEESE
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