While dessert may not be the first food I think of in China, sweet delicacies are indeed very popular in the Middle Kingdom, particularly on holidays like the Lunar New Year. And forget about this fortune cookie — a rare innovation in the West of the Chinese diaspora — China’s sweets are even more diversified and often very uncommon.
Cakes of the Moon
No Chinese dessert is purer or known than mooncake, or yuèb di moonga, traditional pastries remembered by the complex patterns of Chinese characters on its tops. These flaky cakes are usually consumed in the middle of the fall festival with pasta fillings. This vacation is also called the Moon Festival which coincide in late September or early October with full moon. The perfect way to enjoy this is with your friends and your family looking at the moon and sharing a lot of tasty mooncakes.
Tangyuan is a very traditional Chinese dessert consisting of small balls made from rice flour cooked and served in a sugar broth. The meal is roughly translated as “soup ball.” Traditionally, doughy balls contain a black sesame paste, but red bean paste, peanuts and chocolate are popular fillers.
The Mántou was once a staple food of northern China and is still one of the most common dishes of the region, thought to originate as far from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 A.D.). Mántou is traditionally made of steamed buns in the form of a huge marshmallow that can be eaten in the form of savoury or delicious food.
Street vendors selling tánghúlu are a popular sight on any Beijing street, particularly during winter. The local apple is made out of Chinese horse thorn, almost like small crab apples of flavour and consistency, stitched on a stick and covered with a hardened, sour syrup. The traditional candy is made of caramel apples. Makers typically substitute the pit with red bean paste in the middle of the hawthorn, which makes this dessert even sweeter.
This leisurely, hearty dessert is a perfect choice for those who lack the flavours in their home and come from the southern province of Sichuan. These little pan- and deep-fried cakes are made from everybody’s favourite autumnal product, and sometimes they’re filled with some red bean paste—they are plain, but tasty!
The egg tart was first introduced by the Portuguese to the Macau and is now a traditional dessert from China which has become popular across Asia. In the 1920s, the egg tart began in Guangzhou Harbour District, while the rest was historical. This specialty in Canton tastes similar to the regular custard tart.