Chinese New Year steamed sweet cake ‘nian gao’ (年糕) with coconut milk and ginger (gluten free, vegan)
My old aunt loved making ‘nian gao’. My cousins called them rubber cakes, with a chewy, sticky texture and a plain sugary taste. My aunt is too old to cook now. So I started to make them myself, a not-so-authentic version with coconut milk, maple syrup and cinnamon. That’s what multi-culture is about, right?
‘Gao’ has the same pronunciation as ‘high’. ‘Nian’ means ‘year’. So ‘nian gao’ is symbolic for ‘every year a greater success’. This puts ‘nian gao’ on the must-have list for Chinese New Year.
If you like it looking fancy, dust the cake with a mixture of peanuts, sesame seeds, sugar and desiccated coconut.
Recipe is as follows.
- 3 cups of glutinous rice flour (sticky rice flour), it is gluten free
- 1 cup of rice flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup of light coconut milk
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 4 tsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1 thinly sliced piece of ginger (optional)
- 3 cardamom, spited in half (optional)
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water over salt, ginger, cardamom and brown sugar; stir until the sugar is fully dissolved; drain the liquid through a sieve, discard the solids.
- In a mixing bowl, mix glutinous flour, rice flour, coconut milk, sugar liquid, maple syrup, ground cinnamon; mix well.
- Line a cake tin with cling wrap; pour the batter into the tin.
- Steam in a steamer for 30-50 minutes depending on the thickness of the cake.
- Cool completely before cutting with a wet knife.
- Dust with a mixture of peanut, sesame seeds, sugar and coconut if desired.
Mixture of peanut, sesame seeds, sugar and coconut is made up of:
- 1/3 cup crashed peanuts, lightly toasted
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 2/3 cup desiccated coconut, lighted toasted