Make this traditional Chinese New Year Food – Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake) 年糕! Bless your family & friends with this Sticky Sweet Chinese Rice Cake gift that symbolizes prosperity.

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Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is the biggest celebration of the year in the Chinese community. It’s like Christmas to us! 😀

It’s a time to celebrate the hard work, a time for families to reunite, a time to feast, a time to give thanks and rejoice.

Many would make every effort to return home and reunite with their families, like how salmons would journey thousands of miles back to their native spawning grounds.

Amy Celebrating Chinese New Year

Photo taken in Lunar New Year Fair 年宵花市 when I was 7.

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My parents are traditional and BIG on celebrating Chinese New Year, even after we moved to North America.

So, Chinese New Year is the BEST time of the year as a kid!

Chinese New Year meant…

…holidays = no school (when I was still in Hong Kong)!

…delicious Chinese New Year Food & Desserts (endless candies & Ferrero Rocher – my favorite!!)

…red & gold glitter, festivities like visiting the Lunar New Year Fair 年宵花市, the fire crackers, the lion dance…

…flooded with love from family & relatives – the gifts, new clothes, and best of all…the Red Pockets!! (until your parents say they’ll “save” them up for you until you’re old enough) 😛

Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake): Make this traditional Chinese New Year Food! Bless your loved ones with this Sticky Sweet Chinese Rice Cake gift.

Living was tough back in the days, so many Chinese New Year Food, decorations, or customs are meant to bring good luck, health & blessings for the coming year.

My dad often told us how during the tough days when he was a kid, Chinese New Year was the only time they got to eat meat.

Nian Gao or Nin Gou in Cantonese (“higher year”), is a sweet glutinous sticky rice cake that is enjoyed year round, but often a must-have during Chinese New Year, as the name sheds light to give progress, advancement, higher or taller, promising a better year ahead.

So, this easy to make & frugal Cantonese style Nian Gao is inevitably a popular Chinese New Year Food in many households!

My family loves to make them ahead and gift them to our relatives and friends.

Wish You & Your Family a Happy Chinese New Year!!

 

10 Ingredients for Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) 


Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake IngredientsDry Ingredients:
wheat starch 澄麵 (left) & glutinous rice powder 水磨白糯米粉 (right)

Wheat Starch 澄麵 (left) & Glutinous Rice Flour 水磨白糯米粉 (right)

Sugar Mixture:

Sesame Coconut Mixture:

Other Ingredients:

Our Secret Ingredient


Chinese sesame paste/sauce 芝麻醬

Something is missing in the regular Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) we eat, whether they’re store-bought, from restaurants, or made by aunties or grandmas who love to cook.

We were searching for that missing something…

Yes! The Chinese rice cakes lack of body and substance…

So, we turned to our pantry…Oh yes! 

Chinese Sesame Paste 芝麻醬!

Sesame’s fragrant and flavors work well with coconut.

This fragrant and creamy Chinese Sesame Paste works wonder as it adds such body & fragrant to the Nian Gao. 

Don’t miss out on this Secret Ingredient!!

Side Note: this is one of our must-have dipping sauce for Hot Pot 😀 hehe~

Tools for Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) 


Instructions for Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) 


Step 1
Melt the Sugar

Ingredients & Tools

Small saucepan
250 grams cane sugar (roughly 3 pieces) 蔗糖
60 grams (roughly 1 piece) Chinese Brown sugar in pieces 冰片糖
1 ½ cup of cold water

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: Melt the sugar in a saucepan

In a small saucepan, melt 250g cane sugar, 60g brown sugar in pieces in 1 ½ cup of cold water slowly over medium heat.

Pro Tip #1 – To Speed Up the Process: break down the sugar pieces once the water starts to warm. The sugar should be completely melted just before it’s about to boil. You don’t have to bring the sugar mixture to a boil.

Pro Tip #2: You can move forward to prepare other ingredients while the sugar melt on the stovetop.

Step 2
Prepare Dry Ingredients

Ingredients & Tools

300 grams Glutinous Rice Flour 水磨白糯米粉
110 grams Wheat Starch 澄麵
A pinch of fine sea salt or table salt
Fine Mesh Strainer
Silicone Spatula

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: sift dry ingredients through a strainer

While the sugar is melting on the stovetop, sift 300g glutinous rice flour, 110g wheat starch, and a pinch of salt through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a silicone spatula.

Step 3
Prepare Sesame Coconut Mixture

Ingredients & Tools

Small mixing bowl
1 1/3 tablespoon (20g) Chinese Sesame Paste/Sauce 芝麻醬

3/4 cup (188ml) 100% unsweetened coconut milk

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: mix Chinese sesame paste 芝麻醬 and coconut milk together

In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 1/3 tbsp (20g) Chinese sesame paste/sauce and ¾ cup (188ml) coconut milk together. Yum! 

Step 4
Create Coconut Sugar Mixture

Ingredients

Sesame Coconut Mixture (from Step 3)
Sugar Mixture (from Step 1)

Once the sugar has fully melted, pour the Sesame Coconut Mixture into the Sugar Mixture to cool it down a bit. Mix well.

Step 5
Create Nian Gao Batter

Ingredients & Tools

Coconut Sugar Mixture (from Step 4)
Dry Ingredients (from Step 2)

Large mixing bowl
Silicone Spatula

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: pour the Coconut Sugar Mixture into the dry ingredients & mix well to create the Nian Gao Batter

Pour all the hot Coconut Sugar Mixture into the large mixing bowl filled with dry ingredients and mix well with a silicone spatula.

Pro Tip: make sure to pour all the Coconut Sugar Mixture into the Dry Ingredients in one shot. After testing pouring in intervals vs. pouring all at once – we found pouring it all at once created less lumps.

Less lumps = less work in the next step! 😛

Step 6
Remove Lumps in Batter

Ingredients & Tools

Silicone Spatula
Fine Mesh Strainer
1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil

There should be lots of lumps in the batter after mixing the wet mixture & dry ingredients.

Important Step: take a bit of time to break up the lumps by pitching them against the mixing bowl with a silicone spatula. This is a critical step to ensure a smooth & successful Sweet Rice Cake! 🙂

Pro Tip – Easier & Better Method: Smooth out the lumps by running the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, and breaking the lumps against the strainer with the spatula (as shown in photo below).

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: smooth out the lumps in nian gao batter by running the mixture through a fine mesh strainer

Once you have smoothed out all the lumps, add 1 1/2 tbsp (22.5ml) of vegetable oil and mix well.

Pro Tip: The oil will give the Nian Gao a smoother finish.

Step 7
Pour Batter into Cake Pan

Ingredients & Tools

Vegetable oil
Fine Mesh Strainer

Important Step: Wipe the cake pan interior with a little vegetable oil to avoid a white band to form on the sides of the Nian Gao (see cooking tips below).

Pour the Nian Gao Batter into the cake pan through a fine mesh strainer.

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: pour the nian gao batter into the cake pan

Step 8
Pressure Cook the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Ingredients & Tools

Trivet/Steaming rack
1 cup (250ml) of water
Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker
Aluminum foil sling

Method #1: Start with Boiling Water (For Relatively Smooth Surface)


Pro Tip: this method allows minimal condensation drip onto the cake, yet uses a shorter cooking time than Method #2 (covering the Nian Gao with aluminum foil).

Place a trivet and pour 1 cup (250ml) of water in the pressure cooker.

Bring water to a boil (Instant Pot users: Press manual and set the time to 25 minutes).

When the water begins to boil, place the cake pan on the trivet with a foil sling right away.

Immediately close the lid and pressure cook:

  • Pressure Cooking Method: High Pressure for 25 minutes
  • Pressure Release Method: Full Natural Release (~8 minutes)

Method #2: Cover with Aluminum Foil (For Ultra-Smooth Surface)


Pour 1 cup (250ml) of cold water in the pressure cooker.

Tightly wrap the cake pan with aluminum foil to prevent the condensation dripping onto the cake.

Pro Tip: Make sure the aluminum foil is not touching the Nian Gao Batter, as that may destroy the ultra-smooth surface you’re aiming for! 🙂

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: cover with aluminum foil to avoid condensation

Place the cake pan on top of a trivet.

Close the lid and pressure cook:

  • Pressure Cooking Method: High Pressure for 35 minutes
  • Pressure Release Method: Full Natural Release (~8 minutes)

Step 9
Test Doneness

Ingredient

1 Jujube Red Date for decoration

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake Recipe: place jujube red date in the center for decoration

Open the lid carefully, check the doneness by sticking a chopstick in the center of the Nian Gao. Nothing should stick to the chopstick if it is done.

Place a red date over the hole for decoration.

Step 10
Chill the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)


Once the Nian Gao has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 – 8 hours before cutting into it.

Step 11
Serve


Cut the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) into pieces.

The most common way to enjoy it is to serve it cold/room temperature or pan-fried.

Enjoy!

Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake): Make this traditional Chinese New Year Food! Bless your loved ones with this Sticky Sweet Chinese Rice Cake gift.

Cooking Tips for Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) 


In Step 7, it’s critical to wipe the interior of the cake pan with vegetable oil.

After testing wiping the interior with oil and without wiping oil, we found that it’s important to do so!

When we didn’t wipe the pan with oil, a white band has formed on the sides (see below photo). We think it’s due to the batter trying to pull away from the cake pan as it was cooking in the pressure cooker.

Nian Gao Chinese New Year Cake - white band on the sidesCraving more? Subscribe  to Pressure Cook Recipes to get our newest recipes delivered straight to your inbox.

Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake) 年糕
Make this traditional Chinese New Year Food - Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake)! Bless your loved ones with this Sticky Sweet Chinese Rice Cake gift.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack, Easy
Cuisine: Chinese  
  Prep:  |  Cook:  |  Total:
  Serving: 1
  Rated 5.0/5 from 3 reviews
 
Ingredients
Dry Ingredients:
Sugar Mixture:
Sesame Coconut Mixture:
Other Ingredients:
Instructions
  1. Melt Sugar: In a small sauce pan, melt 250g cane sugar, 60g brown sugar in pieces in 1 ½ cup of cold water slowly over medium heat. To speed up the process, break down the sugar pieces once the water starts to warm. You don’t have to bring the sugar mixture to a boil.
  2. Prepare Dry Ingredients: Sift 300g glutinous rice flour, 110g wheat starch, and a pinch of salt through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a silicone spatula.
  3. Prepare Sesame Coconut Mixture: In a small mixing bowl, mix 1⅓ tbsp (20g) Chinese sesame paste/sauce and ¾ cup (188ml) coconut milk together.
  4. Create Coconut Sugar Mixture: Once the sugar has fully melted, pour the Sesame Coconut Mixture into the Sugar Mixture to cool it down a bit. Mix well.
  5. Create Nian Gao Batter: Pour the hot Coconut Sugar Mixture into the large mixing bowl filled with dry ingredients and mix well with a silicone spatula.
  6. Remove Lumps in Batter: There should be lots of lumps in the batter. Break up the lumps by pitching them against the mixing bowl with a silicone spatula. Another way to smooth out the lumps is to run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Once all the lumps have smoothed out, add 1½ tbsp (22.5ml) of vegetable oil and mix well.
  7. Pour Batter into Cake Pan: Wipe the cake pan interior with a little vegetable oil. Pour the Nian Gao Batter into the cake pan through a fine mesh strainer.
  8. Pressure Cook the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake):
    Method #1 for relatively smooth surface: Place a trivet and pour 1 cup (250ml) of water in the pressure cooker. Bring water to a boil (Instant Pot users: Press manual and set the time to 28 minutes). When the water begins to boil, place the cake pan on the trivet with a foil sling right away. Immediately close the lid and let it pressure cook at High Pressure for 28 minutes and Full Natural Release (~8 minutes).

    Method #2 for ultra-smooth surface: Pour 1 cup (250ml) of cold water in the pressure cooker. Tightly wrap the cake pan with aluminum foil. Place the cake pan on top of a trivet. Close the lid and pressure cook at High Pressure for 38 minutes and Full Natural Release (~8 minutes).
  9. Test Doneness: Open the lid carefully, check the doneness by sticking a chopstick in the center of the Chinese New Year Cake. Nothing should stick to the chopstick if it is done. Place a red date over the hole for decoration.
  10. Chill the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake): Once the Nian Gao has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 – 8 hours before cutting into it.
  11. Serve: Cut the Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake) into pieces. The most common way to enjoy it is to serve it cold/room temperature or pan-fried. 🙂

Spread the Love by sharing this recipe & tips on Facebook & Pinterest, so others can enjoy it too! Thank you 🙂

Nian Gao Recipe (Chinese New Year Cake): Make this traditional Chinese New Year Food! Bless your loved ones with this Sticky Sweet Chinese Rice Cake gift.

Last update on 2017-11-19 based on Amazon US | Images from Amazon Product API

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