Luna new year sweet rice cake with coconut milk, ginger and maple syrup, spiced with cardamom, coated with peanuts sesame seed and coconut.

Steamed sweet glutinous rice cake ‘nian gao’ (年糕) with coconut milk and ginger

A traditional dessert for Chinese New Year with a chewy and sticky texture.

‘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.


  • 3 cups of glutinous rice flour (sticky rice flour), it is gluten free
  • 1 cup of rice flour (if you prefer your cake very stickily, replace this with glutinous rice flour)
  • 1 cup of light coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Glutinous rice flour
Glutinous rice flour
Rice flour
Rice flour

Homemade syrup

  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • a few thinly sliced piece of ginger, julienned
  • 3 cardamom, spited in half 

Topping – peanut, sesame seeds, sugar and coconut

  • 1/3 cup peanuts, lightly toasted, crushed
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar or raw sugar
  • 2/3 cup desiccated coconut, lighted toasted
A mixture of peanut, sesame seed, sugar and coconut


  • Homemade syrup – in a saucepan, bring 1 cup of boiling water to boil, add salt, dark brown sugar, ginger and cardamom; stir until the sugar is fully dissolved; drain the liquid through a sieve, discard the solids; set aside to cool
  • In a mixing bowl, mix glutinous flour, rice flour, coconut milk, homemade syrup, ground cinnamon
  • Line a cake tin with cling wrap; pour the batter into the tin; steam in a steamer for approximately 30 minutes; Time required will depend on the thickness of the cake; insert a skewer into the cake to make sure it comes out clear
  • Cool completely before cutting into thin slices with a knife dusted with the topping
  • Dust all sides of each slice with a mixture of peanut, sesame seeds, sugar and coconut (this will stop them from sticking together)

Steaming sweet cake
Steaming the sweet cake in a large steamer



Chinese New Year steamed sweet cake 'nian gao' (年糕) with coconut milk and ginger (gluten free, vegan)
Chinese New Year steamed sweet cake ‘nian gao’ (年糕) with coconut milk and ginger (gluten-free, vegan)


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