Idea for next season’s Top Chef

April 3, 2008 at 9:15 pm (food, recipes)

They should have an all pastry chef Top Chef next season! I’m supposed to avoid using the word “awesome” because the more you use it, the less effective it is. And it also dates me, I think. But having only pastry chefs compete against each other in various dessert and pastry challenges would be AWESOME!

To get your mind focused on pastries and to help convince you that a Top Pastry Chef season would be AWESOME, I’ll tell you about the nien gao that I made tonight. It’s a Chinese cake made with glutinous rice flour and often has red bean paste swirled in. It’s kinda custardy and eggy, like a clafoutis, but chewier. Speaking of clafoutis, I am having a baking craving for a blueberry clafoutis, and I’m just waiting for blueberries to get sweet and juicy and in season!

The recipe I use for nien gao:

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk (I usually use cow milk, but today I used soy milk. Cow milk is better [firmer, denser, chewier], but soy milk is still pretty good.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lb glutinous rice flour (make sure it’s glutinous! I once accidentally grabbed a bag of regular rice flour and it came out really dry and pasty.)
  • 1 (approx 18 oz) can red bean paste
  1. Whisk the wet ingredients and the sugar together.
  2. Whisk in the glutinous rice flour, until the batter is mostly unlumpy.
  3. Pour the batter into a 9×13 pan, leaving a tiny bit of the batter in the mixing bowl.
  4. Mix the red bean paste into the remaining batter. Plop the red bean paste mixture into the pan, distributing evenly, and then swirl it a bit with a knife or knife-like utensil.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.

The finished product (I cut the recipe in half and used a smaller pan):

nien gao

The edges have a really great texture when it’s still freshly baked! So the corners are the best part! Not living in the same place as my family, I have no competition for the corners so I can’t feel guilty about being selfish. All four corners for me:

all four corners

A closeup of the clafoutis-like texture in the middle and the nice crust of the corner:

closeup of nien gao


  1. Simona said,

    I am not sure I can imagine what it tastes like. It looks very nice.

  2. babblingblueberry said,

    The best way that I can describe the taste is “delicious!” 🙂

  3. My predictions « Babbling Blueberry said,

    […] 19, 2010 at 9:14 am (dessert, restaurants, washington dc) Two and a half years ago, I posted about how they should have a pastry version of Top Chef.  The Top Chef folks have finally […]

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