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[Recipe] Reduced-sugar home made Tikoy (Nian Gou)

How cute are these bear shaped bite sized reduced-sugar Tikoy (Nian Gou). 

Tikoy or Nian Gou are sweet glutinous rice cakes traditionally eaten and given as gifts during the Chinese New Year. I have seen sugar-free versions being sold commercially but where's the fun in that? This way you have absolute control of the ingredients and how the finished product tastes and looks like. It's actually not that complicated and it is easy to do variations on the basic recipe. The only reason I have labeled it as reduced sugar is due to the flavoring I have chosen but there should'nt be any reason why a totally sugar-free version can't be done (a plain tikoy can be yummy).

A perfect opportunity to make use of my oven-safe silicon Hello Kitty cupcake moulds

The first attempt I made last year was a success so I am decided to make a new batch for this year. I have used my Mickey Mouse silicon baking moulds with sticky rice cakes for the first time and I was happy to find out that the removal of the mould wasn't an issue as I thought it would be initially. I just made sure that the moulds were thinly coated with virgin coconut oil and the finished product was kept in the refrigerator overnight after steaming. Removing them was just a matter of carefully separating the top (I just used a toothpick), and gently separate them from the glossy silicon surface. There will be some amount of sticking especially if you use silicon moulds with a lot of nooks and crannies but the finished product should come out reasonably intact. The good thing about using oven-safe silicon moulds is that they are really flexible and can be easily turned inside out without damaging them. This year's batch is bears and kitties themed.

Last year's tikoy was a Mickey Mouse. A post shared by @jepjep75 on

Tikoy can be eaten after re-steaming, heated in the microwave,  or sliced then placed into an egg wash before frying in oil. The last method is my favorite since you get those crispy edges paired with that chewy center.   

3 Cups glutinous rice flour
3 Tablespoons coconut sugar (or you can use the Splenda brown sugar blend) 
Sugar substitute blend equivalent to half cup sugar (10 grams Maltitol, 38 grams Erythritol, 49 grams Xylitol, 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder) 
5 packets chocnut (optional - just for added flavor) 
1 and a half Cups freshly boiled water
Virgin coconut oil (just for coating the silicon moulds)  

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar substitutes with the freshly boiled water until totally dissolved. Gradually add the glutinous rice and you will have a thick paste. Add the coconut sugar and crumble the chocnut pieces to the mixture. Doing this in the later stage will result in a mottled appearance of the finished product. If you want it to have a uniform color then add these last 2 ingredients to the freshly boiled water in the early part. This will ensure that they are properly melted. 

Prepare your moulds by coating a thin layer of virgin coconut oil (any cooking oil is fine but the virgin coconut oil just adds a subtle coconut aroma that matches well if you flavor it with chocnut. The coconut sugar used also adds that hint of coconut. You can fill up the moulds as much as you can but you should still be able to pick them up and place in the steamer (don't worry it won't expand during the steaming process). Try not to leave air on the bottom of the mould since it will affect the overall a esthetic of the final product (try dropping the entire filled mould on the counter from a short height gently or tapping the mould to see if there are any air pockets). Steam for 45 minutes. I use a cheesecloth to place on top of the steamer so that condensation from the lid does not fall back into the rice cakes being steamed. 

Let the rice cakes (still in the moulds) cool before placing in the refrigerator overnight. This will make it easier to remove from the silicon moulds.    

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