A New Year's celebration wouldn't be complete without sweet treats. Here are some Chinese desserts that are traditionally served during the New Year season–which typically falls between January and February–as well as fun recipes featuring symbolic Chinese foods.
Perfect for guests with a sweet tooth, sticky cake is a classic Chinese dessert that is full of authentic flavors. However, for guests who want something a bit lighter, you can serve oranges, which symbolize wealth in Chinese culture.
If you don't feel up to cooking, some of these items should be available at Asian bakeries, particularly during the Lunar New Year season.
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This sticky cake is China's most famous cake, traditionally fed to the Chinese Kitchen God so he will report favorably on a family's behavior when he returns to heaven before the start of the New Year season. In Chinese culture, cakes symbolize togetherness and a rich life. The main ingredient in nian gao is glutinous rice flour, available in Asian grocery stores.
The cake is filled with dried fruit and steamed. If you're not comfortable with the idea of steaming a cake, you can try baked nian gao. The cake is filled with red azuki beans, used in many Chinese festive dishes.
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These sesame seed balls (zeen doy) are tasty balls of glutinous rice flour that are filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and fried. While sesame seed balls are available at Asian bakeries throughout the year, they are especially popular during the Lunar New Year season.
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Peanuts symbolize longevity in Chinese culture. In this easy five-spice peanuts recipe, the peanuts are coated in a syrupy mixture with brown sugar, corn syrup, and five-spice powder creating a sweet and savory dessert treat.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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At any Lunar New Year celebration, you'll see red everywhere, as the color red is a powerful symbol of happiness and joy in Chinese culture. Made with red adzuki (azuki) beans, this popular sweet red bean soup is perfect for Lunar New Year. Lotus seeds and dried tangerine peel give the soup an interesting variety of textures and flavor.
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The number eight is a magic number in the Chinese culture, representing wealth and prosperity. This eight treasure rice pudding dessert traditionally features eight different fruits decoratively set atop a mold of rice pudding that has a center of red bean paste. It will be interesting if you use Chinese fruits you find at an Asian market, but you can also use other dried fruits.