Friday, September 22, 2006

SHF23: Two-bite sticky rice cakes

This is it, my first-ever contribution to Sugar High Friday (SHF), the ultimate blogging event for dessert lovers (hosted this month by A Veggie Venture).

First, the bad news.

I’m not going to lie to you. The Two-Bite Sticky Rice Cakes* aren’t pretty. After countless photos of various poses from a variety of angles in different lights, this was the best I could do.

Now for the good news.

They're plenty edible. These rice cakes are not the dry rounds of Styrofoam that dieters quaffed in the ‘80s in an (often) unsuccessful bid to lose weight. Quite the contrary, in fact. The Two-Bite Sticky Rice Cake is a moist morsel in a crispy exterior, with a texture not unlike that of a jujube: chewy, but dense enough to see your bite marks.

I first tasted sticky rice cake (also called glutinous rice cake, and a variety of other terms in various languages I’m sure) in university when one of my housemates, E., baked up a batch. My initial skepticism (”That batter doesn’t look like it’s going to turn into any kind of cake I’ve ever seen”) was confirmed when the first squares were cut (“See, that definitely isn’t cake”). But the first bite brought me around, as I’m sure it will you.

In honour of the Surprise Inside theme of SHF23, I used E.’s sticky rice cake recipe but with a few adjustments. First, I used mini muffin tins rather than an 8” square pan. Second (and more importantly), I added the surprise(s).

There are two variations of the cake: one filled with sweet red bean paste and topped with sesame seeds; the other – perhaps more appealing to North American tastes – filled with semi-sweet chocolate and topped with sweetened coconut. (In theory, at least. I surprised myself when I bit into a coconut-topped cake and discovered sweet bean paste inside. Who’s in charge of quality control here?)

Two-Bite Sticky Rice Cakes

1/2 bag (200 g) glutinous rice flour (available at Asian grocers)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil (I used canola, but any light tasting oil will do)
2 eggs

sweet red bean paste (available at Asian grocers)
semi-sweet chocolate
sesame seeds
sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tin, even if it's non-stick.

In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs using an electric mixer. Add the sugar and oil and beat lightly again. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice flour and baking powder. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the eggs/sugar/oil mixture, mixing between each addition and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour a small amount of batter into the bottom of each muffin cup until they are about 1/4 full. Bake for 5 minutes or until the batter just begins to set. Remove from oven and place a small amount of sweet red bean paste or melted semi-sweet chocolate in the middle of each cup on top of the batter. Pour more batter on top of the filling until you reach the top of the muffin cup. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or coconut flakes.

Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden. Let cooked cakes rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. I cooled the cakes upside down to help them maintain their shape.

Yields about 30 mini cakes.

*The name was inspired by the ubiquitous Two-Bite Brownies that seem to have found their way into every major Canadian grocery store over the last few years. A bit of a misnomer I fear, since it’s clearly possible to consume a Two-Bite Sticky Rice Cake in one bite. But I advocate the two-bite approach for those who want to really appreciate the surprise inside.


C. McM from Edmonton said...

Looks like a lovely addition to my upcoming Multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner! Your mother must be very proud! ;-)

Alanna said...

Sheena ~ These are gorgeous! and you've done a great job selling their taste, despite the appearance though honestly, they don't look so bad! I do thank you for "playing" with Sugar High Friday's Surprise Inside. Look for the round-up later today! PS Happy early Thanksgiving!

Ivonne said...

What an unusual and intriguing contribution. I love it! You have a great blog!

Brilynn said...

I'm actually a fan of the red bean paste, but chocolate is always good too :)

Elle said...

Yummy! Just to note, this is a classic Taiwanese recipe passed on by a family friend...and we do usually make them in small round cakes with red bean or lotus seed paste filling inside. The chocolate coconut filling sounds mouth is watering! Nicely done, SS!

Josie said...

These look chewy and yummy---great job for SHF! Makes me want to head down to Chinatown as soon as possible for the ingredients!

The Casual Baker said...

Hi All: Thanks for taking time to stop by The Casual Baker! I really enjoyed my first go at SHF and hope to be a regular contributor. So far, I've only had the chance to glance through the round-up, but can't wait to go through all of the other yummy-sounding entries and try out a few myself.

mcm from edmonton: This Multicultural Thanksgiving Dinner sounds neat. What else is on the menu?

elle: Thanks again for the great sticky rice cake recipe and the bit of history behind it.

ak, ivonne, brilynn & josie: Can't wait to check out your blogs soon too!

Lis said...

I'm going through the SHF round up right now and everything looks fabulous - a job well done by all - but I have to admit, your recipe has me the most intrigued and has made me want to make these! I've never had sticky rice or bean paste.. so I have no idea how they would taste but GOD they look fabulous! Well done! =)

melissa said...

Is this like mochi? Like the Japanese use to celebrate the New Year...I would try it with the sweet red bean paste... Thanks!

The Casual Baker said...

melissa: i think this has more of a "baked" flavour than mochi does and the texture is a bit different too. funny you should mention mochi though, because daifuku mochi are high on my to do list!