When you visit China and walk among its streets, you will see streets packed with not only people but also shops. One of them is shops selling typical Chinese desserts. Since Chinese desserts have been around for thousands of years, many sellers have mastered the craft of making these sweets.
In this land of bamboo curtains, you will find desserts from various popular regions. There are special Chinese desserts available all year round, but there are also a variety of specialty desserts made just for certain holidays or seasons. Come on, let’s explore China through the desserts which are quite diverse and already legendary!
- Dou Sha Bao
In Chinese sweets and desserts, one of the main ingredients that are often used is red beans. This red bean paste is also filled with a red bean which has a good taste. When you’re in China, you’ll probably come across this stuffing often. You might be confused with chocolate paste because of the color.
Dou Sha Bao is the famous sweet version of baozi or steamed bun. This Chinese dessert consists of steamed buns filled with red bean paste. This bread is one of the most popular ways to serve red bean paste. These bread vary in shape and size and are very popular in North China although they are popular throughout China as well.
These red bean-filled dumplings can be found in restaurants, steamed, and come in a variety of forms. You can also find them in supermarkets. These buns come in many variations and fillings, such as taro paste, pine nut paste, or even black bean paste.
- Ba Si Di Cave
Both in China and abroad, potato-like tubers rarely appear on dessert menus. But the ba si in the cave, which is a northeastern Chinese delicacy, proves that this type of tuber is also worthy of a dessert. Ba si di gua is a dish made from sweet potatoes that are diced and caramelized so that they become sticky.
When going to eat it, first separate a piece of sweet potato, then dip it in cold water for a while so that the caramel hardens. This process will make the sweet potato crispy and sweet on the outside and warm and tender on the inside. This typical Chinese dessert tastes delicious in winter.
The literal meaning of tāngyuán is “soup ball.” This is a popular Chinese dessert. The filling is in the form of small balls made from cooked glutinous rice flour and served in a sweet broth.
Usually, this ball-shaped dough is filled with black sesame paste, but it can also be filled with other common fillings such as peanut paste, kidney beans, and even chocolate.
Tāngyuán is especially popular around the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar. This festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Since the name of this dessert sounds similar to the word tuányuán which means union, tāngyuán is also commonly eaten during weddings and reunions.
Yuèbing is one of the most famous Chinese desserts. In Indonesia, this cake is known as moon cake or mooncake. Generally, this cake is enjoyed during the Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival coincides with the Lunar New Year and is celebrated during mid-autumn when the middle moon is at its fullest.
It is estimated that the moon is closely related to the seasons and agriculture. Therefore, as a thank you to the moon during autumn, the Chinese would offer sacrifices. During the Tang Dynasty, this festival became an official celebration. What is part of the sacrifice is moon cake, which is offered and then eaten.
During the celebration, people will also give these cakes as gifts to friends and family to wish them good luck. Mooncakes are round like the moon and have a soft texture.
The contents vary by region. Some contain pudding ice cream to ham. The original filling is sweet lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolk.
- Dou Fu Fa
Dou fu fa is a typical Chinese dessert that is popular in Asia. In Indonesia, this food is known as bean curd or wedang bean curd. This dessert consists of tofu pudding with various savory or sweet toppings.
This dessert is made from ingredients in the form of coagulated soy milk to produce a tofu product with a very soft consistency and a mild taste.
Like other variants, maybe this soft tofu originally came from China, but then soon spread to other Asian countries. In these countries, this food is delicious sweet food. Usually, this dessert is topped with sweet syrup or ginger, but in northern China, in particular, this dish is topped with a savory topping and eaten as a creamy snack. Dou fu fa is mostly sold by street vendors or served as part of a traditional dim sum meal.
- Lou PoBeng
There are several legends and variations associated with lou po beng or also known as sweetheart cake. Most commonly this cake is associated with a married woman whose father fell ill.
The woman’s family was poor and spent most of their money on her father’s medical expenses, and it is from here that many versions of the legend emerged.
While it’s unclear, some say that the woman sold herself into slavery to buy more medicine, while others are more specific and say that she sold herself to their landlord.
Other places have more different versions. It is said after hearing what his wife had done, a husband worked hard to earn a lot of money to bring his wife back and as a result, he created lou po beng.
The origin of this sweet cake is from Guangdong Province which was formerly known as Cantonese so this dessert is known as Cantonese dessert. Generally, this Chinese dessert is made with a flat and multi-layered dough filled with glutinous rice flour, candied winter melon, and sesame seeds.
- Long Xū Tang
One of the most popular sweet foods is sold by many street vendors. Lóng xū tang or dragon beard candy is a candy made and may look similar to cotton candy. It can also be similar to a typical Korean dessert called kkultarae.
The size of this typical Chinese dessert is small and usually, these candy sellers will show their skills in making this snack so that it attracts many customers.
This dessert is a popular sweet dish that is a combination of enjoyment with an art that is recognized and has been practiced by vendors for quite a long time.
Lóng xū tang can be found near popular tourist sites and along shopping streets. The carts of these vendors look compact, but the taste of each bite is very diverse. Find this dessert at tourist destinations in Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and many other locations.
- Hong Dou Tang
Red bean soup is a classic Chinese soup. This typical Chinese dessert is usually eaten as a dessert and is made from red azuki beans, tangerines, or orange peel, and lotus seeds. The soup is not overly sweet but has a subtle sweetness that makes it a perfect dessert for Chinese dishes.
Red bean soup can be served hot in winter or cold in summer. Other ingredients that can be added to this soup include dates, longan, sago, and coconut milk.
In China, hong dou tang is considered one of the healthiest soups because it is rich in vitamins, boosts immunity, and helps fight constipation.
Mántou is a simple dish that tastes delicious. This Chinese dessert has been enjoyed in the country of bamboo curtains for centuries. Mántou is thought to have originated in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). This dish was once a staple in northern China and is still one of the most popular dishes in the area.
This dessert consists of steamed buns which are generally in the form of large marshmallows that can be eaten with savory or sweet foods. As for the dessert version, mántou is often fried and served with sweetened condensed milk, giving it the consistency of a delicious donut.
Although very popular in China, egg tarts can be found all over the world. This typical Chinese dessert is one of the choices on the dim sum menu and can be eaten with any food. There are various versions of this cake in China, but the most common is the Hong Kong-style egg tart, which is influenced by British cuisine.
The final result of the Hong Kong-style egg tart looks shiny and sunken inward. Cakes that look more like bowls are made of puff pastry, while those that look like pie crusts are made of shortcrust pastry. It’s yellow. The taste is strong and almost like jello. Making this dessert can take hours.
Those are 10 legendary Chinese desserts. These sweet foods can be found not only in their country of origin but have spread to many countries including Indonesia. Call it bean curd, buns, moon cakes, and much more. The large number of Chinese people migrating to other countries also helped to spread this food.
Surely you’ve tried buns, mooncakes, or beancurd. But have you ever tried other typical Chinese desserts, such as Lao po beng or ba si in the cave? Interested to try it?