Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year Mochi Cake : Baked Nian Gao with Red Bean Paste Center

For Chinese/ Lunar New Year, it is a popular tradition to eat "Nian Gao".  "Nian" means the word "year", but also sounds like "sticky". "Gao" means cake,  but also sounds like "high".  This cake has so much meaning from new year cake to aim high for the new year.  It symbolizes a family "sticking together".
The classic version is steamed, and does not contain eggs or milk.  However, this baked version with a layer of red bean paste is my favorite, and I've eaten a lot of different "Nian Gao" over the years!   My mom used to have a great recipe, but it has been misplaced. So last night, I did some research and came up with the following recipe to recreate the optimal taste and texture that I remembered. I was a little nervous, but when it came out - it was wonderful! So good, that despite having two little boys (nearly 4 and 20 months) running wildly around me, I had to get on my laptop to post this recipe, just in case someone wants to make this for New Years today!.

Baked Nian Gao with Red Bean Paste Center

  • 1 lb (16 oz) bag of glutinous rice flour (sticky rice flour) *available in Asian markets, but I was able to find this in the asian section of our local Albertson's. 
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 2 1/2 cups milk 
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 can mashed red "adzuki" bean paste (available in cans in Asian markets)   
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 175 Celsius).  Spray a 9x13 pan with PAM or equivalent.  
  2. Mix all the ingredients (except for the azuki bean paste) with an electric mixer at low speed until blended.  Beat for 2 more minutes at high speed. 
  3. Spread 1/2 of the batter on the bottom of the baking pan. 
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the batter is just beginning to set.  
  5. Remove the pan from the oven.  Spread a layer of azuki bean paste. Since the batter isn't fully set the beans, it may be a little messy.  That's ok.    
  6. Add the remaining batter over top of the beans. 
  7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for another 30 to 40 minutes, until a chopstick or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  8. Allow to cool before slicing.
This is best served the same day, slightly warm or at room temperature.  It is also good the next day, but if you store it covered, the crust will become softer.  I haven't tried this, but some people recommended reheating their nian gao in the toaster.  Happy New Year!

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