These adorable little steamed palm sugar rice cakes are called Kuih Kosui. They are from Malaysia and are usually steamed in little Chinese tea cups. I, unfortunatly, did not have any small tea cups on hand so instead I made them using silicone cupcake cups and they still came out great!
Back in February 2009 I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Singapore. It was such an amazing place and I tried to soak up every bit of culture I could while I was there. Here’s a picture of me in front of the infamous Singapore Merlion!
While I was there I also tried a ton of new foods like Pandan, a type of plant used to flavor a lot of Southeast Asian dishes. Unfortunatly Pandan is not easy to find here in the United States, so I haven’t yet tried to do any baking with it. However, while in Singapore I was sure to purchase a ton of local dessert cookbooks including one on Malaysian cakes and desserts.
The interesting thing I discovered upon reading through the books is that a lot of Southeast Asian cakes are steamed, not baked. This one in particular, the Kuih Kosui, caught my eye because it is also gluten-free, fat-free and even vegan. I could also tell it was going to have a Flan-like consistency, which is one of my husband’s favorite desserts, but unlike Flan it doesn’t have any eggs which makes it much healthier.
The recipe in the book called for palm sugar as the main ingredient. I didn’t find in any local stores, but I was able to find jaggery in our Indian grocery store which is somewhat similar. Since the jaggery/palm sugar is solid the first step is to roughly chop it up.
Next, the jaggery/palm sugar needs to be dissolved in water. You can do this on the stove top, but I chose to use a microwaveable safe 2-cup measuring cup and nuked it for one minute intervals until it was completely dissolved. A 2-cup measuring cup is needed later anyway, so why dirty a pot if you don’t have to!
Regular granulated sugar is then added to the mixture and heated, again either by stove top or microwave, until all the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should then be strained in order to remove any impurities. A fine mesh strainer works great for this.
Pour the sugar mixture into the flour and stir to form a batter. If you notice any lumps you can strain the batter again using your fine mesh strainer. Otherwise put into a double boiler, or if your bowl is metal like mine you can just set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Heat the mixture for about 5-10 minutes until it begins to thicken slightly. Be sure not to over cook or it will become too thick.
Once the mixture is ready you can fill your cups and steam. I don’t have a fancy steamer so I used a steamer basket I found at the store and put it into a large pan with a little water in the bottom. I started preheating the steamer while my custard was thickening on the stove. I used small silicone cupcake cups, but any small tea cups would work. Steam, with the lid on, for about 12-15 minutes on medium-low.
Once the cakes are done steaming they should cool completely, preferably in the fridge overnight, before you try to unmold them. Use a knife to loosen the edges and then slowly work each cake out of the mold. Top with a little grated coconut and Voilá.
For more international recipes check out my eBook series: Cakes without Borders. Each book has completely unique recipes based on ingredients and flavors from around the world.
Palm Sugar Rice Cakes (Kuih Kosui)
- 2/3 cup (3.5 oz) palm sugar or jaggery, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup (2.7 oz) water
- 1/4 cup (1.8 oz) granulated sugar
- 5 Tbsp rice flour (white or brown)
- 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- grated coconut optional
Preheat your steamer and also have ready a double boiler, or a pot of simmering water you can place your mixing bowl over.
Place the chopped palm sugar/jaggery in a microwave safe 2-cup glass measuring cup along with the water. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute intervals, stirring in between each, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the granulated sugar and continue to microwave, stirring in between, until it has dissolved as well.
Strain the mixture into a bowl to remove any impurities, then return to the measuring cup. Add water to the sugar mixture to bring the total volume to 2 cups, set aside.
In a separate bowl sift together the rice flour, tapioca flour and baking soda. Stir well to combine, then mix in the sugar syrup. Mix well then strain to remove any lumps.
If using a metal bowl place it over a pot o simmering water, or transfer the batter to a double boiler. Heat for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
Pour the batter into small tea cups or silicone baking cups and steam for about 15 minutes on medium low heat. Fill the cups only half full since the batter does rise.
Allow to cool completely, preferably chill them in the refrigerator for a few hours, before un-molding. Server with a sprinkling of grated coconut.