Stay sweet with Camseng’s favourite Chinese desserts!
Chinese food is renowned for its varied and fascinating flavours, but Chinese desserts are often overlooked in amongst the various distinctive savoury dishes.
It is time to put Chinese desserts on the map with their unique and interesting flavours!
What are Chinese desserts like?
Known to be less sugary than their Western alternatives, Chinese desserts often boast sweet and savoury flavours, and they can be served during meals as well as after meals. Chinese desserts can also vary from light and simple to more complex sweet treats – and the way even a well-known dessert is prepared often depends on the area it is made in!
Some of the most commonly used ingredients in Chinese desserts are rice, bean (red bean buns are particularly popular!), flour, fruit, eggs, flowers and sugar.
Traditionally, Chinese desserts can be categorised into confectionary foods, baked goods, candies, rice-based snacks, jellies, and dessert custards and syrups.
Chinese desserts and tradition
Several Chinese desserts are undoubtedly linked to celebrations and traditions. For example, mooncakes are typically eaten during the Mid-Autumn festival, sweet rice balls swell in popularity during the Lantern Festival, and the Chongyang Festival wouldn’t be the same without Chongyang cakes.
Chinese New Year also has its traditional sweet treats like glutinous rice cakes, eight treasures rice, Osmanthus jelly, jujube flower cakes, and fresh fruit to name a few.
Chinese dessert recipes
Is your mouth watering yet? It will be after you taste these traditional Chinese dessert recipes!
1. Add the water into a pot and gradually sprinkle the jelly powder into it, stirring until dissolved.
2. Bring to boil and then remove from heat. Add milk, sugar and almond extract. Stir until completely dissolved.
3. Pour the mixture into a 9x9 inch square pan and let it set.
4. With a knife, cut through the jelly, making diamond-shaped cubes.
5. Transfer the almond jelly pieces into a large container with a lid. Add the lychees with their liquid. Cover and chill.
6. Serve cold.
1. Cook the beans: Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain and put into a pot. Pour in 500ml water. Bring to boil, then leave to simmer for about 90 mins until cooked.
2. Make the paste: Put drained beans in a blender. Add the sugars and butter. Blend on high speed into a fine paste. Add a little water only if necessary. Transfer the paste into a non-stick pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously to avoid burning. Once the paste is dark in colour and holds its shape, remove it from heat to cool.
3. Prepare the dough: Mix flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder and oil in a bowl. Gradually, add water while mixing with a spatula. Combine with your hands to form a rough dough. Let the dough rest (covered) for 10 mins, and then knead until very smooth.
4. Roll the wrappers: Roll the dough into a long rope and divide into 14 equal parts. Work one piece at a time while keeping the rest covered up. With a rolling pin, flatten a piece into a disc-like wrapper, about 10cm in diameter (thinner on the edge, thicker in the middle).
5. Assemble the buns: Place a spoonful of the cooled red bean paste in the middle of the wrapper. Seal the bun completely and place it on the work surface with the sealed side down. Rotate the bun between your hands to form a slightly raised shape. Repeat until all the pieces are filled and sealed. Place the buns into steamer baskets lined with baking paper, leaving space between the buns. Leave to rest for 30 mins so the buns become light and plump.
6. Steam the buns: Bring water to a full boil in a pot. Place the steamer baskets in and steam over medium-high heat for 10 mins. Serve immediately.
Tanghulu (candied fruit on a stick)
For this simple recipe, we have used hawthorn, but you can replace it with any fruit of your choice. Great as a snack as well as a dessert!
Hawthorn (or fruit of your choice)
1. Wash the hawthorn/fruit and pierce through bamboo sticks.
2. Add water and sugar in a wok and mix well.
3. Heat the wok until bubbles appear and the colour changes.
4. Dip the hawthorn/fruit into the syrup mix, covering it, and quickly remove.
5. Let the candied fruit sticks cool and serve. Enjoy!
For other Chinese desserts, browse our delectable dessert selection and satisfy that sweet tooth!