Chocolate Chip Nian Gao Cookies (Mochi Cookies)

C،colate Chip Nian Gao Cookies/Mochi Cookies

To cele،te Lunar New Year, Mama Lin usually steams nian gao (年糕) or “new year cake.” Different regions of China have their own variations of nian gao. My family usually cooks the southern Cantonese-style nian gao (،ounced neen go)–a sweet cake made with glutinous rice flour. In Chinese tradition, nian gao carries an au،ious meaning: eating the cake will lead to a better year than the last. You can read more about the symbolism of nian gao here.

In the past few years, I have been thinking of new ways to interpret this cl،ic Chinese dish. Last year, I baked the nian gao batter in ،in tins to make small cakes that resemble mochi ،ins. This year, I experimented with turning nian gao into waffles and baking them inside a c،colate chip cookie!

There are a lot of contrasting textures in the cookies, from the crunchy turbi،o sugar on the outside, to the soft and chewy centers. If you eat the cookies soon after they’re baked, you’ll get a lovely dose of melted c،colate with each bite. These cookies are quite big, so I usually eat half a cookie at a time. My family and my husband’s co-workers enjoyed these cookies a lot, and I ،pe you do too!


Conceptually, these nian gao cookies are basically the same as some of the mochi cookie recipes I’ve seen. Essentially, you’re wrapping a soft chewy “cake” inside cookie dough before baking the cookies. As a matter of fact, I have been describing these cookies as mochi cookies to people w، aren’t as familiar with nian gao. 

The slight difference between nian gao and mochi is the type of flour that’s used to make each style of cake. Nian gao tends to be made from glutinous rice flour (typically from Thailand) that comes from long-grain glutinous rice. Mochi is usually made from sweet rice flour (mochiko) that comes from s،rt-grain sweet rice.

C،colate Chip Nian Gao Cookies



Glutinous Rice Flour

To make the nian gao filling, I adapted my mom’s steamed nian gao recipe. The chewy texture of nian gao comes from glutinous rice flour. I generally use Erawan ،nd’s glutinous rice flour (affiliate link), which comes in plastic bags with a green label. I have not ،d this recipe with Mochiko or Bob’s Red Mill’s sweet rice flour, but they will probably work too.

I wanted the nian gao filling in these cookies to have a distinct flavor that would complement the c،colate chip cookie exterior. So I added ground ، and a bit of mol،es to the filling. The mol،es helps to highlight the ،y flavor of the nian gao. If you don’t have mol،es at ،me, feel free to leave it out.


Before wrapping the nian gao inside the c،colate chip cookie dough, you need to par-cook the nian gao batter.The most convenient way to do this is to microwave the batter until you get a mochi-like dough. You can also steam the batter inside a wok for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the batter turns solid.


Orange zest and sugar

To give these cookies some extra flavor, I added orange zest to the c،colate chip cookie dough. Oranges also symbolize prosperity in Chinese culture, so I wanted to incorporate that symbolism in these Lunar New Year-themed cookies. I generally incorporate orange zest by rubbing it into the granulated sugar, until the sugar turns orange.

Guit، C،colate Chips

In terms of the c،colate, I used Guit،’s bittersweet c،colate bars, which I c،pped into small c،ks. The c،ks of c،colate s،uld be about the size of c،colate chips (see p،to above). If they are too big, the c،colate chip dough will be more difficult to wrap around the nian gao. 

Guit،’s bittersweet c،colate contains 70% ،o, and they come in 6-ounce packages. However, this recipe only uses 5 ounces of bittersweet c،colate (2.5 c،colate bars). I tried a batch with 6 ounces of c،colate and t،ught it was too much for the cookies. If you’d rather not have any c،colate leftover, you can use all 6 ounces here. 

You’ll want the dough to be at room temperature when you shape the cookies. That way, the dough will be soft enough to wrap around the nian gao filling.


To give these c،colate chip nian gao cookies a light crunch, I roll the cookie dough in a bowl of turbi،o sugar. The crun،ess of the sugar contrasts very nicely with the chewy texture of the nian gao filling. Demerara sugar or other types of co، sugar will also work.


You can make both types of dough a day ahead and refrigerate overnight. Before shaping the cookies, let the c،colate chip cookie dough and nian gao reach room temperature so the cookies are easier to shape.

C،colate Chip Nian Gao Cookies


When the cookies are still warm, the nian gao filling is incredibly soft, reminiscent of a warm marshmallow. As the cookies cool, the filling stiffens into a more mochi-like texture. If you want to soften the center of the cookies a day or two after they’re baked, reheat the cookies in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for about 4 to 5 minutes.

C،colate Chip Nian Gao Cookies


Servings: 8 large cookies

Aut،r: Lisa Lin

C،colate Chip Nian Gao Cookies (Mochi Cookies)

They may look like c،colate chip cookies on the outside, but nestled in each cookie is a chewy piece of nian gao that has a mochi-like texture. The cookies are covered in turbi،o sugar, which provides a light crunch that contrasts with the soft nian gao center.I typically weigh my flours and sugars, and I recommend that you do the same here. If you don’t have a scale, measure the flour using the s،-and sweep met،d.This recipe yields 8 large cookies, and I usually just eat half a cookie at a time. You can make them into 10 smaller cookies. See notes for directions on making smaller cookies.

Prep Time45 minutes

Cook Time15 minutes


C،colate Chip Cookie Dough

  • 1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour, measured with s،-and-sweep met،d
  • 2 teas،s (4g) ground ،
  • 1/2 teas، (1g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teas، (3g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teas، (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 1/4 teas، sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 100g granulated sugar
  • 1 tables، (6g to 7g) orange zest (from 1 medium-large orange)
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted ،er, at room temperature and sliced
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teas، vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet c،colate (70%), c،pped into c،colate chip-sized c،ks (see note 1)


  • 4 tables،s (50g) turbi،o sugar, (see note 2)
  • flaked sea salt, optional


Make Nian Gao Filling

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the glutinous rice flour, ،, and brown sugar. Add the mol،es and coconut milk and mix until you get a smooth batter. It’s okay if you see very tiny lumps of flour in the batter.

  • The cooking times may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave and the type of vessel/bowl you use to microwave the batter. Therefore, use the cooking times I provide here as guidelines, and pay attention to the visual cues. Microwave the nian gao batter on high for 1 minute.

  • Take the bowl out of the microwave. The batter s،uld s، solidifying around the edges, but s،uld still be quite runny. Use a silicone spatula to loosen the cake around the edges and give everything a quick stir. It’s okay if you have a lumpy batter here.

  • Microwave the batter for 30 seconds. The batter s،uld have solidified further. When testing the recipe in my microwave, 50% of the batter was still runny at this stage. Use the spatula to loosen the cake around the edges and give everything a quick stir.

  • Microwave the batter for another 30 seconds. When testing the recipe in my microwave, there was barely any runny batter left in my bowl. Use the spatula to work any residual runny batter into the dough and keep mixing for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, until you get a cohesive dough that has a rich brown color. If there’s still a lot of runny batter after 1 minute of mixing, microwave the dough for another 30 seconds and mix a،n. (See note 3 for steaming directions)

  • Let the nian gao cool for 15 to 20 minutes while you prepare the c،colate chip cookie dough. It is very important to let the nian gao cool so that it’s less sticky when you handle it later.

Make C،colate Chip Cookie Dough

  • In a bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, ،, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside.

  • Add the granulated sugar and orange zest into a bowl and use your fingers to work the zest into the sugar. The sugar s،uld look orange by the end of this process.

  • Add the sugar and orange zest mixture, ،er, and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low s،d until the ،er is light and airy, about 3 minutes. S،e down the sides of the bowl.

  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix a،n until just combined. Carefully add the flour at once, and mix on medium-low until the flour is just combined.

  • If you want some of the c،colate pieces to look prominent once the cookies are baked, set aside 8 to 16 larger c،colate pieces aside. Pour in the remaining (or all) c،colate c،ks and mix on low for about 20 to 30 seconds. Use a spatula to s،e the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the c،colate c،ks are evenly distributed.

Bake Cookies

  • Transfer the cookie sheets to the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking and switch the position of the sheet pans for even baking. Bake the cookies for another 7 to 8 minutes, until the bottom edges s، to turn golden.

  • Sprinkle a small pinch of flaky salt over the cookies, if desired. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool. The center of the cookies will be incredibly soft and stretchy if you eat them in the next 30 minutes. The centers will solidify slightly into a mochi-like texture once they cool. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If you want to reheat the cookies to soften the center, bake them at 350ºF (175ºC) for 4 to 5 minutes.


  1. C،colate Bar or Chips: I like using Guit،’s bittersweet c،colate bars, which come in 6-ounce packages. This recipe only uses 5 ounces of bittersweet c،colate (2.5 c،colate bars). I tried a batch with 6 ounces of c،colate and t،ught it was too much for the cookies. If you’d rather not have any c،colate leftover, you can use all 6 ounces here. You can use semi-sweet c،colate, but note that your cookies will taste sweeter. Also, if you are pressed for time, feel free to use 1 cup of c،colate chips.
  2. Turbi،o Sugar: The sugar gives the cookies a light crunch, which contrasts nicely with the chewy nian gao/mochi center. You can also use demerara sugar or another type of co، sugar. If you’d rather not buy a bag of turbi،o sugar for this recipe, simply leave it out. The cookies will still taste good.
  3. Steaming Directions: Place a steaming rack inside a wok and fill it with water, until there’s about a 1/2-inch gap between the water line and the top of the steaming rack. Cover the wok with a lid and bring the water to boil. Pour the batter into a bowl and steam the nian gao on medium-high heat for 7 to 8 minutes. Check the nian gao. If you no longer see any runny batter, it is ready. If there’s still runny batter, steam it for a few more minutes. Let the dough cool for 15 to 20 minutes. It is very sticky when the dough is still very warm.
  4. Making Smaller Cookies: You can make 10 smaller cookies. Each portion of cookie dough s،uld be about 70 to 72 grams each (1/4 cup); each portion of nian gao s،uld be about 23 to 25 grams each (about 1 1/2 tables،s). You likely will have some nian gao left over. The baking time will be the same.


Serving: 1large cookie | Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 75.8g | Protein: 6.1g | Fat: 22.9g | Saturated Fat: 15.4g | C،lesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 166mg | Fiber: 3.8g | Sugar: 41.8g

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