1 /3/4 C dark brown sugar (if using light brown sugar, add 2 T molasses)
1 1/2 C water, divided
1 lb sweet rice powder
2 T canola oil
1-2 t vanilla or almond extract, or 1 t of each
Line 2 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper
Add 2″ of water to a pot fitted with steamer racks, and bring water to a boil.
Combine 3/4 C of water and the brown sugar, stir and microwave for 1 min.
Stir, and if sugar is not dissolved, microwave 30 sec more. Repeat till sugar all dissolved.
Add the other 3/4 C water, extract(s) and molasses if required, stir to mix.
Put sweet rice flour into a med-large bowl,
Add the liquid mix, stir to combine and until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
Pour into the cake pans.
Put pans on the steamer racks and steam for 1 1/2 hours.
Check the water periodically, and add hot water as needed.
* Try to avoid letting the condensation from the lid drip on the cake, when lifting the lid. But if such water is laying on top of either cake, just take a paper towel, fold it a few times and siphon up the water by touching the edges of the paper to the water.
While warm, you can cut or spoon off pieces of the cake and roll it in fresh coconut flakes (adding some sugar and salt to the coconut is optional and, I think, adds a lot to the taste) and serve, Malaysian style.
Allow the cakes to cool completely, then cover. In a few hours, when completely cool, you can slice and serve. Or you can slice, dip it in beaten egg and pan fry with a little oil. Yummy!
Eating Nian Gao is supposed to bring GOOD LUCK, because “Nian Gao”, which means “sticky cake” is also a homonym for “higher year”.