Whether or not you buy into all of that...the one thing that is prevalent at most celebrations of a New Year is food...of course! Food! I decided to celebrate this year by trying a NEW way to make an old Chinese New Year favorite. Instead of steaming my Chinese New Year Cake, I am BAKING it! I came across a recipe from one of my favorite places to troll, Chow.com. They usually have some pretty awesome stuff. So, I decided to give this one a try.
*You will need some specialty ingredients to make this cake, namely sweet rice flour. It is available at most Asian markets in the starches (noodles, rice and so forth) section. DO NOT use regular rice flour, it will not turn out the same way! Also, I didn't use whole milk or coconut extract in this recipe. I substituted whole milk with soy milk and I used 2 T. coconut milk POWDER, sifted into my flour rather than the fake alcohol-y extract you get in stores. There ARE good extracts out there, but they are all organic.
Baked Chinese New Year Cake
6 T. shredded coconut, toasted
4 large eggs
1 lb (about 3 c.) sweet rice flour
3 c. whole milk
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 T. melted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 tsp. coconut extract
Preheat oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in dead center middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.
Place the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until toasted and golden brown in color, about 5 minutes; set aside.
Place the eggs in a large bowl and lightly beat to break up the yolks. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, making sure not to neglect the edges; rotate the dish, and bake until the edges are just starting to brown and the top is just set (a bubble may form, but it will flatten as the cake cools), about 20 to 25 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. Wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
It looks kind of like a sponge and when you eat it, the consistency is like a flan. It is a delicate coconut flavor ribboned throughout and the toasted coconut gives it a nice little, crisp kiss to top it off. Have fun celebrating your Chinese New Year!