Burmese-Inspired Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)

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Recently I had a dessert called schweji at a Burmese restaurant.  This is a small cake made with cream of wheat or semolina flour that has raisins and a topping of poppy seeds.  Since today is Chinese New Year, I adapted a family nian gao recipe to make a gluten-free, schweji-inspired cake.

Baking note:

  • The schweji is coconut flavored, but the flavor of sticky rice is so strong that it will completely overwhelm coconut milk.  So you might as well use regular milk here.

 

Burmese-Inspired Chinese New Year Cake (Nian Gao)
Adapted from a family recipe

Yield: 9″x9″ cake

  • 1 lb sticky rice flour (I like to use a Thai brand, Erawan)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter (or margarine), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup raisins
  • poppy seeds for topping

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9″x 9″ baking pan.
  2. Beat the butter until creamy, then beat in the other ingredients.  The batter will be runny, and it’s fine if there are little pieces of butter floating in it.
  3. Scatter raisins evenly across bottom of baking pan.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle top with poppy seeds and bake for 50-60 min until the top is golden brown.  When done, the cake will be sort of jiggly and (what else?) sticky.
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Flourless Oatmeal Drops

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These are nice, simple oatmeal cookies that have a chewy texture.  They’re even flourless to begin with, so no modifications are necessary!

Baking notes:

  • Definitely use parchment paper to line the baking sheets.  I tried aluminum foil and greased it, but the cookies still stuck pretty aggressively.
  • The original recipe says you’ll get 2 dozen cookies, but following the recommended cookie size of about a tablespoon, I got about 4 dozen cookies.

 

Flourless Oatmeal Drops
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

  • 1/3 cup (2 3/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 7/8 cup (7 oz) brown sugar OR 7/8 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg OR allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves OR allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar OR cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups (8 3/4 oz) rolled oats (old fashioned OR quick cooking)

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium-sized bowl with a hand mixer, on medium speed, beat together butter, sugar, molasses if using, salt, spices, baking powder, vanilla, and vinegar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  (It’s fine if you forget and add the eggs at the same time.)
  3. Stir in oats.  The mixture will feel very loose.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  The bottoms of the cookies are extremely sticky.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator and drop it by the tablespoonful onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.
  7. Moisten your fingers and flatten cookies to 1/4 inch thick.  It’s easiest to keep a small bowl of water beside you for this part.
  8. Bake cookies for 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Rotate the baking sheets halfway through and rotate them front to back.  The cookies won’t look completely done in the center when you take them out.
  9. Remove cookies from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes.
  10. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Pudding

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This chocolate pudding is smooth and silky.  If desired, serve with homemade whipped cream.

Original recipe

 

Chocolate Pudding
From Betty Crocker

Yield: 7 servings

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch processed baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

 

  1. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt with whisk.
  2. Gradually stir in milk.
  3. Cook over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until pudding boils and is thickened.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 2 minutes longer.
  5. Remove from heat; gently stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted.
  6. Pour into large bowl; cover surface directly with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming.
  7. Cool 10 minutes.
  8. Serve warm, or refrigerate until serving time.

Chocolate Cake

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A friend baked this beautiful chocolate cake for a Winter Wonderland party, so of course I got the recipe from her.

Some notes on the decorations:

  • The icing is made from butter, powdered sugar, and milk
  • The cake is dusted with blue sugar
  • The snowflakes are made from royal icing

Original recipe

 

Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Add a Pinch

Yield: 12 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup flavorless oil (such as canola)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  3. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  4. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.  (Actually, my friend ended up tripling the baking time.)
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  6. Frost and decorate as desired.

 

Cornbread

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A friend of mine made this delicious gluten-free cornbread.  She used a mixture of brown rice flour and potato starch in place of all-purpose flour, but you can substitute the Trader Joe’s gluten-free flour if that’s what you have.  Just check the cornbread after 20-25 minutes to make sure it isn’t baking faster than expected.

Original recipe

 

Cornbread
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Yield: 9″ x 13″ pan

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease or spray the bottom and sides of a 9″ x 13″ pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter, milk, and egg with a fork or wire whisk until well mixed.
  3. Add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt all at once; mix well (batter may be lumpy).
  4. Pour batter into the pan; use a rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl.  Spread batter evenly in pan and smooth top of batter.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm.

 

Old-Fashioned Pancakes

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You can serve these pancakes with toppings such as jam, whipped cream, and, of course maple syrup.

Original recipe

 

Old-Fashioned Pancakes
Adapted from All Recipes

Yield: Enough for 2-3 people

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

 

  1. In a large bowl, mix together  flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  2. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, egg, and melted butter
  3. Mix until batter is smooth.
  4. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.  Cook until brown on both sides and serve hot.

Candied Orange Slices

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Candied oranges are delicious on their own or with other desserts, such as on top of carrot cake.

Original recipe

 

Candied Orange Slices
From David Lebowitz

  • 1 orange, washed well
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  1. Cut the orange into 1/4-inch slices.  Put the slices in a nonreactive saucepan, add enough water to cover them well, and bring to a simmer. 
  2. Blanche for 10 minutes, then drain well. The rinds should be mostly translucent at this point.
  3. Put orange slices back in the saucepan and add 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water.
  4. Cook orange slices at a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender and translucent.