Mini Layered Coconut Nian Gao Recipe

For Chinese New Year 2021, I'm revisiting my layered coconut nian gao recipe and making cute miniature ones instead.

One of the annoying things about bamboo steamers is that they're quite shallow – so if you want to steam a cake or something similar, you have to make sure the tin is quite short. I used to have a 7" pan that was short enough to fit inside my big steamer, but not any more alas – which is why I decided to go small this year. The sticky rice cake is still the same wonderfully fragrant, not-too-sweet, intensely sticky cake it was before though. Just smaller.

You can also see my 'making of' video on my YouTube channel:

Ready? Let's go.

(Makes about 12 mini nian gao).


For Regular Layers: 

75g brown sugar
270ml water
225g glutinous rice flour
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 pandan leaf (or a few drops of vanilla)

For Coconut Layers:

75g brown sugar
120ml coconut milk + 150ml water
225g glutinous rice flour
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 pandan leaf (or a few drops of vanilla)


More coconut oil for greasing
Dried goji berries for garnishing


1. Make the two layer mixtures separately: first dissolve the sugar and coconut oil in the liquid over a medium heat (coconut milk in one pan, water in the other). Either pop in a knotted pandan leaf to flavour as you heat it, or a few drops of vanilla

2. Allow both mixtures to cool before adding them to the rice flours in separate bowls, stirring until there are no lumps- you should have two thick-ish batters

3. Grease 12 small silicone moulds with more coconut oil. Half-fill each with one layer mixture (it doesn't matter which one you choose first), and steam for 25 minutes. Then fill to the top with the other layer mixture: this time steam for five minutes, then push a goji berry into the top before continuing to steam for another 20 minutes.

4. Leave to cool completely to room temperature before unmoulding and serving. You can eat it as it is, warmed back up in the steamer again, or deep-fried in batter  / sandwiched between sweet potato slices and deep fried in batter too (absolutely delicious).

Have fun, enjoy, and 新年快乐- dàjiā xīnnián kuàilè / happy new year!


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