Nian Gao (aka Mochi Cake)

Author Notes

Nian gao is a Chinese dessert that is traditionally eating in the winter, or more specifically, for the New Year. Similar to the Korean dduk and Japanese mochi, it is made from glutinous rice flour, which can be found in Asian grocery stores. Make sure you get the glutinous version (I buy the green bag with the 3 elephants on it) versus regular rice flour (the red bag with the 3 elephants on it). This recipe (from my friend, Joanna Lee) has sweetened red beans baked into it and is very rich because of all the butter. You could use a little less butter, but really, why would you want to?

The hardest part about making this dish is getting all the ingredients to mix. You don't want the butter to be too hot or else it will cook the eggs, but if the milk is straight out of the fridge it will solidify the butter. If you do run into that problem, you could try microwaving the mixture just enough so that the butter melts again, but I think it is easier to get the milk warm before adding it to the butter. —Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy

  • Makes 24 pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups milk, warmed to a little hotter than a fever
  • 1 pound glutinous rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 can (18.75 oz.) red bean paste or sweetened red beans
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir in the rice flour and baking powder and mix until there are barely any lumps. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Drop red bean paste by scant teaspoonfuls onto the top of the cake. If spoonfuls are too big, the filling will sink to the bottom.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cake springs back when lightly touched. It should be golden.
  5. Serve small slices of this very rich cake at room temperature or slightly warmed.
  6. For extra decadence, you can slice the nian gao into thin slices, dip them in beaten egg, and pan-fry for Cantonese-style nian gao.

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy
    Joy Huang | The Cooking of Joy