If you want a real-deal rice cake for January—one that squishes and smooshes rather than squawks and squeals—look no further than the sticky rice cake from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid.
(The Burmese name for the cake is htamanei, and Duguid calls it "Deep Forest Monklets' Sticky Rice Cake." And yes, a "monklet" [!!!] refers to a young monk.)
Made from Thai sticky rice boiled with chopped ginger, sesame seeds, peanuts, and sugar that's then pressed into a pan and topped with fried coconut, it's dense and sticky and moldable (and also gluten-free! and vegan! and no-bake! holy cow!). —Sarah Jampel
8 to 10
For the cake:
frozen grated coconut
peanut oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups
white Thai sticky rice
cut fresh ginger root
unsalted raw or roasted peanuts
chopped palm sugar or packed brown or granulated sugar
Make the fried coconut strips. Put the frozen coconut on a plate to thaw, then squeeze out any excess water and pat dry.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a wok or a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the thawed coconut and fry, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until golden brown in places. Lift out with a slotted spoon or tongs, allowing any excess oil to dry, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Rinse the rice in cold water, drain, and place in a small pot with a tight fitting lid. Add ginger, peanuts, sugar, sesame seeds, salt, and water and stir to mix well.
If using a pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Let the cooked rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan or 8-inch pie plate. Transfer the rice mixture to the pan, mixing and blending it gently to distribute the flavorings. Smooth the top gently, gently press in the fried coconut strips, and let stand for 30 minutes, until firm.
Cut into squares or wedges and serve with a drizzle of condensed coconut milk. It keeps, covered, for 3 days. Do not refrigerate—it toughens the rice.
For the condensed coconut milk:
Add the coconut milk and sugar to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce it to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes until it thickens.
Stir every 10 to 15 minutes so a film does not develop on top. You want the mixture to reduce by about half and be slightly thick, keeping in mind that it will thicken a lot more once it's in the fridge.