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Must-try desserts in China

When it comes to finding yummy sweets and desserts in China, my inner self would nod yes and say just take it because I will not find it back in the Netherlands (unless I am desperate enough to want the packaged powdered ones and make it myself). The most popular Chinese desserts actually come from Guangdong and there are many variations that can be served hot or cold. During my times in China, I made sure I visited enough dessert shops such as Hui Lau Shan, Honeymoon Desserts and others :). I have compiled my top 8 Chinese desserts since sharing is caring and you might end up liking them as much as I do ?.

1. 西米露 Xī mǐ lù : Sago with coconut milk

sagoplain1

Sago can come in any variation: mango, coconut, passion fruit, papaya and many more. You might be wondering what is sago actually made of? It is made of tapioca starch, which expands into a chewy pellet when it is mixed with liquid. Sago comes in many variations and colors, and if you can’t imagine, think about the tapiocas in bubble teas since these sago’s are larger and tastier. The tiny white sago that is used for the sago pudding does not have much flavor; hence, it is always made together with coconut milk to transform it into a heavenly dessert. If I have to choose, this dessert is my favorite Chinese dessert. Ever. This pudding can be served cold and hot, so eating this dessert is not entirely dependent on the weather (imagine eating ice cream during the cold icy winter, a definite no no). Not only that, but the sago pudding comes with different variation of flavors too; and mango, papaya, taro are my favorites.

sago-with-papaya-1 sagowithmango

2. 糖葫芦 tánghúlu : Candied Fruit

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The first time I encountered these tanghulu was when I was in Beijing, which was almost a decade ago. My family pointed out to me that I must try it out, because it was the Northern China’s “specialty”. Seeing how each fruit was coated in sugar syrup, I thought it must be tasty and sweet. Normally the tanghulu consists of crab apples, but in other areas such as Guangzhou, I encountered many different fruits on the stick besides the crab apples.

 

When you first take a bite of the tanghulu, you’d taste the syrup coating following a change of flavor to the fresh fruits’ taste. The syrup coating is produced through cooking the sugar and water together, then placing the fruit stick into the ‘syrup’ to create tanghulu. Tanghulu actually look pretty appealing and it tastes healthily good too since it contains fresh fruits. Hopefully the candied fruit stick that you grabbed doesn’t contain many sour fruits ? one time I did have one that was super sour and couldn’t finish eating it hahah.

3. 豆腐花 dòufuhuā: Tofu Pudding

tofu-desserts

This dessert might sound weird to many of you, since tofu is mainly eaten savory in the West. The tofu pudding consists of soymilk, gypsum and sweet syrup that is added in the end. For the curious eaters out there, you should definitely try this out if you like tofu. When you are in Hong Kong or Mainland China, you might see street vendors selling these so don’t miss out your chance to try it out ????

4. 黑芝麻糊 Hēi zhīma hu : Black sesame soup

sesame-paste

There are many benefits for consuming sesame such as reduction of blood pressure, healthier hair scalp, prevention of wrinkles and much more. This dessert might not look the most appealing, but I can assure you that it taste better than it looks! ? The sesame dessert soup is on the sweet side because of the amount of rock sugar that is present as it is also thick in consistency. This dessert is usually served hot so it is perfect for when the weather is cold outside ❄️⛅️?.  

sesame-soup-package sesamepaste

Usually I buy the black sesame dessert from desserts shops or just the powder paste (shown above) which you mix water with since it is easier and more convenient than making it from scratch. This dessert is quite healthy because it is made of rice and sesame seeds ?. So next time when you feel like consuming a healthier sweet dessert, think of black sesame soup!  

5. 蛋挞 dàn tà: Egg Tart

eggtart1

One of the most popular desserts that you can find in the West freshly baked is definitely the egg tarts. I have been consuming this since young, as it is one of my favorite pastries ever.  The egg tart is actually derived from the Portuguese pasteis de nata, which has a different look of the egg custard and that is similar to crème brûlée. The Chinese egg tarts taste sweeter and softer compared to the pasteis de nata, with a hint of vanilla extract present. As the name gives away, the egg tarts are mainly made of eggs, milk, and flour. There are two kinds of egg tarts: soft texture ones and very crunchy ones, and if you were to ask me which one is the tastiest I would say the soft textured one {emoji}. The pastry tastes the best when it is fresh out of the oven because of the ultra soft texture and the warmth, so trying to bake them won’t be a bad idea if you want to eat fresh egg tarts ?. Of course, you can also buy them at a Chinese bakery or at any dimsum restaurant if you want to just try how they taste.

6. 汤圆 tāng yuán : Glutinous Rice Balls

glutinous-sesame-balls

Tangyuan is one of the most popular Chinese desserts since it is served hot on many special days like the Lantern festival and the Winter Solstice festival. There are many variations of fillings, but the most popular ones are sesame, red bean, and peanuts. These tangyuan are sweet in taste and chewy too, while the base is made of ginger and rock sugar. Usually your local Asian supermarket sell these glutinous rice balls and the only thing you need to do is create the base and tada you can have warm tangyuan served in a bowl ?.

glutinous-balls

7. 炖奶 Dùn nǎi : Steamed Milk Pudding

dunnaiI didn’t know what steamed milk puddings were until last year when I was in Guangzhou. Maybe because I wasn’t a big fan of milk in China, I never bothered trying it before until I encountered a local dessert place that serves steamed milk pudding as their specialty. That place was always crowded and most of the customers ordered the dunnai, so I thought why not give it a try?

dunnai1Dunnai taste literally like milk pudding with lots of sugar and is served warm, just like what the name gives away. Overall, I find this dessert pretty alright and not too addicting since I am not a huge milk fan ?. But once in a while taking dunnai is quite satisfying since it tastes different compared to most of the desserts.

8. 綠豆沙 Lǜdòu shā : Green Mung Bean Soup

green-mungbean-soupWhen I was young, my mom would make this very often because she believed it has many health benefits for us. Living in a tropical weather, the mung bean soup was ideal to fight off the heat that is circling in our inner bodies during the hot days. Not only that, but it can also detox our bodies and improve your skin so yeah this dessert is very healthy in a way.

green-mungbean-soup-1The mung bean soup could be served hot or cold, so it is perfect for any occasion. This dessert could be considered more as a ‘soup’ since it is not thick in consistency like the sesame soup, and it has a refreshing feeling when served cold. This is literally the best dessert to eat cold during summer time ?.

That’s all for now

chinesedesserts

All in all, these are my top 8 Chinese sweet desserts that I recommend to try out :). I hope this post has been a guide for some of you to try out these Chinese desserts, even when it looks super weird or different from the Western desserts. I can assure you though, most of them are made of quite healthy ingredients and also contribute to your health {emoji}. There are, of course more Chinese desserts that are popular like the egg tong sui and red bean soup, so if you want to try even more Chinese desserts, there are plenty to choose from :D.

Oh yeah, on another note, the featuring image actually has a mixture of sago, black bean sticky rice, mango, bread and coconut milk. It is more like an all-in-one dessert I encountered in Shanghai anddd it was delicious :3

ST

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