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Change it Up: Azuki and Coconut Milk Nian Gao

Using the same process from the red date nian gao, I can make other varieties of nian gao.  For one bag of glutinous rice flour I would add about 2 cups of add in, and at most 2-3 ingredients to nian gao.  Keep it simple.  Keep it clean.  I would test all these variations in my own kitchen, but I can only eat so many nian gao.  Until next year!

Here are some suggested, untested variations:

  • roasted and puree pumpkin + vanilla,
  • cooked and mashed/puree persimmon+ star anise,
  • toasted pine nut + grated ginger (or ginger juice) + finely shredded coconut
  • shredded coconut +coconut milk
  • rose water + pistachio or pine nut or almond

Keep in mind that if you add something with moisture reduce the water in the recipe.  If you add liquid, then replace the water with it.

New Year Cake with Coconut Milk Red Bean – Hong Dao Nian Ga


  • 1 bag of glutinous rice flour, 400 gram  ~3.5 cups
  • 4 slabs of Chinese brown sugar pian tang, 360 grams
  • 1 can coconut milk, 14 oz
  • 2/3 cups of red (azuki) bean**

**Make extra!  When I made this recipe, I also made extra red bean to make red bean paste for mochi or tang yuan.  If you are making the bean paste, save the drained liquid.

Boil azuki with a pinch of baking soda until cooked.  Approximately 1.5 hours.  Drain bean and set aside.

Break sugar into pieces and dissolve into coconut milk on stove.  Do not let the milk mixture boil up.

Make a well on the bottom of the mixing bowl with glutinous rice flour.  Slowly add 1 cup hot coconut milk mixture in the middle of the well a little at a time.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula slowly incorporate the flour from around the well.  It will look crumbly and dry.  Start smashing the clumps in to the dry flour around the well.  Slowly add another 1/3 cup of hot milk a little at a time, then the other 1/3 as needed.

Continue smashing the clumps into the dry flour – picking up as much flour as you can.  The dough will still seem crumbly and dry.  Start using your hands to pick up the pieces and knead it together into dough.  Add a little more water if needed.

When the dough is form start, add the auki beans (in 3-4 parts) using your hands to fold it into the dough.

Place mixture into a greased pan.  Smooth the top of the cake with a spatula to make an even surface.  Trick is to wet the spatula.  Add a few drops of oil on top and spread evenly with your fingers.

Steam for 35-40 minute.  Put a steamer on to the bottom of the work, sauce pan, or deep pan.  Add water until it reaches the top of the steamer.  When the water boils, place the cake on top of the steamer.  Check water level after 20 minutes.  Add hot water into pot as needed.

Let the cake cool.  Before serving – cut up the cakes into pieces, dip in egg, and pan fry.  If you are just having one slice – then pop it in the microwave.  The egg wash is to create an egg crust that will prevent the pieces of nian gao from sticking to each other.

Yields (2) 8 inch cakes or (1) 9 or 10 inch cake

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