From the punishing mountains of northern Thailand to the temple-studded plains of Myanmar to the dusty roads of Cambodia, I’ve come to rely on various forms of coconut-sweetened rice cakes as efficient fuel to energize my rides throughout Asia.
The banana leaf–wrapped purple rice cakes with coconut custard from the morning market in Luang Prabang, Laos, are worth the flight alone. This mango-infused version holds together well when you are out and about, and it supplies easily digestible, toothsome energy. And the cooked rice is nearly 70 percent water, adding extra fluid that you won’t find in most packaged energy bars.
Coconut flour is made by grinding up defatted dried coconut meat into a fine powder. Don’t try to cut corners by leaving out the coconut flour. You need it to help draw out some of the excess moisture during baking so that the cakes hold together.
- Replace canned light coconut milk with carton coconut milk beverage
- Swap out coconut sugar for cane sugar
Coconut Rice Cakes
- 1 cup medium-grain white rice, such as Calrose
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- 1 mango, preferably Altaulfo, peeled and sliced
- 2⁄3 cup coconut sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1⁄3 cup coconut flour
- ¼ cup sesame seeds (optional)
Rinse rice in a sieve under cold water. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add rice and salt, stir, and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender and water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, let sit covered for 5 minutes, and then fluff with a fork.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 × 8–inch square baking pan with a piece of parchment paper large enough so there is a 1-inch overhang.
Place coconut milk, mango, and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Pulse in eggs. Place coconut milk mixture, coconut flour and sesame seeds (if using), in the saucepan with the rice and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and spread in an even layer. Bake for 40 minutes, or until set. Let cool completely in pan and then lift out using the parchment overhang. Slice into 12 bars and wrap each tightly in foil or other wrapping of choice for transport. Extra cakes can be chilled for up to a week.
Adapted from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Fuel for Sports and Adventure by Matthew Kadey, RD with permission of VeloPress.