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.
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.
Prepare Sesame Coconut Mixture: In a small mixing bowl, mix 1 ⅓ tbsp (20g) Chinese sesame paste/sauce and ¾ cup (188ml) coconut milk together.
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.
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.
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 1 ½ tbsp (22.5ml) of vegetable oil and mix well.
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.
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/pressure cook 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).
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.
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.
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. :)
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