While Westerners like to use fancy desserts to end a meal and use this as the last chance to perform and captivate an audience, Chinese cuisine is a little bit different. Chinese people usually serve fresh cut fruit that’s in season as a dessert.
There are however many kinds of Chinese desserts that are delicious and popular in both the East and West.
Some desserts are only made for special holiday periods but here are some of the most popular Chinese desserts around.
Sweet nian gao (甜年糕) is usually made of dark brown sugar or brown sugar. Some nian gao add sweet red beans as the main ingredient. This dessert is mainly served during the Chinese New Year period.
There are both savoury and sweet Tangyuan’s but this focuses on the Sweet Tangyuan (甜湯圓). There are many different ways to prepare and make this dessert with different kinds of sweet fillings. The most popular fillings for this dessert are black sesame, mung bean, red bean and taro. It’s usually boiled in water, until soft, then served with the water you boiled it in. You can add some sugar to the water to make it sweeter if you want to.
Another type of tangyuan is small rice flour balls. Sometimes Chinese people mix these with red food colouring so they look pink. You then boil it in boiling water first until soft then serve in sweet red bean soup.
Another way to serve these little rice flour balls is to deep fry them first then coat with sweet ground peanu. This kind of dessert is really popular in Chinese and Taiwanese wedding banquets.
Chinese people usually serve this dessert during the Winter Solstice Festival but people often serve during normal banquets or family meals as tangyuan is a symbol of family union.
This dessert is served during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This is a baked dessert and the pastry is made of flour and lard or butter. For the fillings, you can use red bean paste, lotus seed paste, jujube paste and five kernels (five different kind of nuts). Some mooncakes even contain 1 or 2 slated duck egg yolks inside.
Nowadays you can find many different kinds of mooncakes with all kinds of flavors. One of the most interesting is ice cream mooncake.
Eight Treasures Rice Pudding
This dessert is only served during special events or the Chinese New Year. It’s made of sweet sticky rice/glutinous rice with a red bean paste filling. The top of the rice pudding is usually decorated with eight different kinds of candied fruits then you brush or drizzle some syrup on top to make it sweeter.
This is one of my personal favourite Chinese desserts. It’s made of deep-fried strands of batter and bound together with sugar syrup. After it has cooled down and is solid, I will cut it into cube shapes and pack them individually. There are great snacks for tea time.
This is a Taiwanese dessert that’s very commonly used as a gift for tourists or friends. The crust is made of flour and butter and the filling is sweet pineapple paste. Some contain salted duck eggs but mostly they don’t.
Nowadays because more and more Chinese people travel to Taiwan, this cake has become popular in Chinese society as well.
Below are some of the Chinese dessert recipes for you. The ingredients should be quite easy to find in your local supermarket or Chinese supermarket.
Bow Ties - children love these egg roll wrappers deep-fried with brown sugar
Egg Custard Tarts
Eight Precious Pudding
Fortune Cookies - not an authentic Chinese dessert, but no restaurant meal at a North American Chinese restaurant would be complete without them!)
Mango Pudding - a popular dim sum dessert
Sponge Cake with Coconut Icing - (like Hawaiian Haupia)
Steamed Pears - the pears are filled with honey before steaming
Edited by Liv Wan