Chinese New Year cake is known in Mandarin as nian gao (“higher year”), and eating a piece of it is supposed to improve your luck in the coming year. Similar in texture to mochi, this authentic version is a baked coconut cake that has a moist, almost bouncy quality and texture.
1Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.
2Place the coconut in a single layer on a small baking sheet and bake until toasted and golden brown in color, about 5 minutes; set aside.
3Place 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.
4Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, 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.
5Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.