I’ve had this dessert every year since I came to America. A family friend always made it for Christmas or Chinese New Year, but a couple years ago she moved to California, so no more! After many reminders, my mom finally got the recipe for me. This cake is faintly sweet, addictively chewy, and naturally gluten-free.
A note on ingredients. First, you should use water milled glutinous rice flour, which yields a super sticky and chewy texture. I’m particular to the Erawan brand of Thai rice flour. Mochiko is another brand that is popular, but when my mom and I tested this recipe with both brands, Erawan turned out much better, baking into an addictively squishy, chewy cake with a crisp golden crust.
Second, you should make your own red bean paste from dried adzuki beans. It tastes a thousand times better than canned red bean paste, which is usually too sweet and artificial tasting for me. It’s really easy to make red bean paste because adzuki beans are small and cook faster than other dried beans, and they’re healthy!
Lastly, I always add walnuts because that’s what makes this a special new years cake.
Happy Chinese New Year!
- Wash and drain the adzuki beans, then add to a rice cooker or medium covered pot with 2 cups of water. The lid of the pot should have a steam hole in it.
- Turn your rice cooker on, or boil then simmer the beans for 1 hour. Boil the remaining 2 cups of water close to the 1 hour mark. Add 2 cups of boiling water to the beans and stir, then cover again. If using a rice cooker, the beans should be done after 30 more minutes. You'll know by its creamy texture. If using a pot, stir frequently for the next 30 minutes so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot as they begin to disintegrate. They will be done when they are thick and creamy.
- Stir in the sugar and butter until melted, and smash the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Mix together all of the ingredients except for the walnuts and red bean paste. You can use a blender or high speed mixer. Make sure there are no lumps in the batter. It should be very smooth.
- Line a 13x9 inch pan with parchment paper and pour half the batter in. You can eyeball this. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.
- Using your fingers, drop little bits of red bean paste all over the top. The first layer will sink a bit. Top with a second layer, followed by the chopped walnuts. Gently drizzle the rest of the cake batter over the top, submerging the red bean paste and walnuts.
- Bake for 45-50 more minutes, rotating halfway through.
- Remove from oven and let cool before lifting the cake out with the parchment paper and cutting into it bite-size squares.
- These are good warm, but firmer and easier to slice after cooling. Best eaten on the first day, but will keep at room temperature for 2 days. Store in the refrigerator after that, but zap it in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating.