One of the joys of cooking is discovering new recipes from cuisines all over the world, and Asian cuisines have so many unique desserts with delicious, intriguing flavors.
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But something that puts people off from expanding their culinary horizons is not knowing if they have access to certain ingredients, or if recipes require cooking techniques they may not be used to. However, these wonderfully unique desserts are super simple to make.
From dainty, sweet cookies to puddings and ingredients you may have never tried in a dessert before, below you’ll find 23 simple Asian desserts to try at home.
So whether you want to bring something different to the table at your next get-together with friends, or spend the weekend trying out new recipes, we’re sure to have something to interest you!
Known as Khao Niaow Ma Muang, mango sticky rice is a classic Thai dessert that is served in Thai restaurants all over the world and is a popular street food item. The flavor of this tropical rice pudding is delightful and easy to make at home.
All you need is a few ingredients: the ripest mangoes you can get your hands on, good-quality coconut milk (try to avoid ‘lite’ options), and Thai sweet rice. You can find this rice at Asian food stores and it is often called glutinous rice or sticky rice.
There is no need to use a rice cooker. You can cook the sticky rice on the stove. Coconut milk and brown sugar is what gives the rice and sauce flavor. Once ready, scoop the rice into a bowl, add some fresh mango slices and drench it in the sweet coconut sauce. One spoonful and you’ll be transported to Thailand!
Requiring only 4 ingredients, Castella Cake is a popular Japanese dessert that is incredibly moist with a sweet hint of honey.
Known as Kasutera in Japan, Castella Cake was originally introduced by Portugese merchants in the Nagasaki area in the 16th century. The name is derived from Portugese Pão de Castela (“bread from Castille”).
The 4 ingredients needed to make Castella Cake are flour, eggs, sugar and honey. The dark brown crusts and the creamy yellow center contrast each other beautifully, and the cake is not only moist but smooth and bouncy.
A traditional and simple Japanese recipe, these butter cookies are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
You only need 6 ingredients to make these cookies: butter, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla extract. Just place these ingredients into a food processor (or you can mix by hand). These delicate cookies are sure to melt in your mouth!
A popular dessert in Chinese restaurants, mango pudding can easily be made at home with a few ingredients and little prep time.
This dessert really shows off mango’s extraordinary flavor and is delicate yet rich. The evaporated milk also makes the pudding creamier and gives it another layer of flavor.
You’ll only need two things to make this coffee: condensed milk and a cafetiere. Making this coffee couldn’t be simpler.
Start with a hot coffee, allowing the condensed milk to melt. Then load your glass up with ice, grab a straw, and enjoy!
The chunks of fruit in this dessert give it a perfect jelly texture, while the almonds add a mild, pleasant layer of flavor.
Be careful with the extract, however, as too much can be overpowering.
Japanese custard pudding, also known as Purin, is a sweet, custard-jelly like dessert that has a small layer of runny caramel.
Purin resembles a flan or creme caramel, and is a beloved dessert in Japan. You’ll find it in practically every supermarket or convenience store in many different varieties such as Mushi Purin (a steamed pudding with a firmer consistency than regular Purin), and Yaki-purin that is baked in the oven. You can also enjoy Purin in a variety of flavors such as chestnut, chocolate mint, coconut, mango, matcha, pumpkin, and sweet potato.
If you’ve exhausted your cookie recipes and want something different, look no further than these Chinese almond cookies! They’re already popular in Chinese-American cooking, but not as popular as their fortune-bearing cousins.
Made with almond flour, almond extract, and slivered almonds, these cookies have a surprisingly intense flavor. They’re perfect for Chinese New Year, as almond cookies symbolize coins and are said to bring you good fortune. Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Happy New Year!)
Nuts are a great, healthy alternative to chips in placating salty cravings, and these five-spice peanuts are no exception.
Chinese five-spice is usually an alluring blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. While you will usually find it in savory recipes, the rich, warm flavor can complement sweeter dishes too.
This dark soup made from black sesame seeds will definitely divide opinion, but if you give it a chance this sweet, nutty soup is a delicious and nutritious dessert.
While in the U.S. we’re used to having dessert at the beginning of a meal, in China the dish is sweet and eaten as a dessert. It’s also very popular in China to have small dessert dumplings filled with black sesame cream.
Baesuk is a Korean pear dessert that can be steamed or poached, and is also known to be a cough remedy! So this may be the perfect sweet dish for when you’re feeling a little run down.
This recipe tells you how to make both versions of Baesuk, because while they both use similar ingredients there are differences in the cooking techniques.
Known as ‘Dan Tat’ in Cantonese, these egg tarts are small and round, made of flaky pastry and served with a smooth, slightly sweet egg custard.
You can find these egg tarts in Hong Kong, Macau and China, as well as Chinatowns all around the world. But with this recipe you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home!
We know what you’re thinking. Wouldn’t a steamed cake be soggy and dense? But this cake is actually light and tender.
It also tastes lovely too. The batter is made with brown sugar and gives it a delightful caramel flavor, and the evaporated milk gives the cake a creamy, rich taste.
The mild, earthy flavor of matcha really shines in baked goods, and of course it’s fresh green hue makes any matcha-infused dessert beautiful to look at!
These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and only take 15 minutes to make before you pop them in the oven.
We recommend using a high-quality matcha powder to ensure your baked goods always achieve that gorgeous green hue!
Chinese nougat may be a softer kind of nougat than you’ve tried before, but the nuts make it pretty crunchy! For a sweeter and more colorful nougat, you can add dried fruits too, or even pink marshmallows to create a lovely swirl of color.
These fried bananas not only have a sweet, caramel flavor but are super easy to make and are totally moreish.
Light batter will give the bananas a nice crunch, and you can pair them with caramel or hot fudge.
Red beans may not be your usual dessert ingredient, but the sweet red beans found in this recipe are usually sweetened and resemble a sweet potato.
These dumplings are also so easy to make. Simply mix rice flour and water to achieve a mochi-like texture that pairs so well with the red bean paste.
These cookies are traditional Korean sweets that are made from sesame seeds and pressed in a mold. You can make these cookies without a mold though. You’ll still get sweet, nutty, and healthy cookies!
A little tip: if your sesame seeds are not roasted or you want to bring out some more flavor, you can roast your sesame seeds in a pan for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Just make sure to stir them often so they don’t burn.
If you’re not adverse to getting your hands sticky, this fun recipe is great to try out at home!
Modak is an Indian dessert that is made in many Hindu homes during the first day of the Ganesh Chaturthi Festival.
The most popular variety of Modak is Ukadiche Modak, and this recipe teaches you how to make Modak with and without a mould.
This extremely creamy pistachio Kulfi ice cream is flavored with saffron and cardamom and is sure to be such a crowd-pleaser you’ll be making it every summer.
Kulfi is a traditional Indian ice cream, and is probably denser than any other ice cream you’ve tried. It is usually made by boiling milk over low heat until it has reduced considerably, and is then sweetened, flavored, and frozen in small molds called ‘Matki.’ Very rarely will you find Kulfi served in traditional ice cream scoops!
For a creamier consistency, some Kulfi recipes call for thickening agents like cornstarch or bread crumbs. You can also find Kulfi in various flavors such as almond, cardamom, mango, orange, pistachio, rose, saffron, and strawberry.
Korean rice cakes only require 3 ingredients, and in this recipe the chewy rice cakes are seared in butter until the outsides are crisp. They’re then drizzled with honey.
Known as Tteok, these rice cakes are a beloved traditional dish in Korea. They are normally made with steamed glutinous rice flour and then pounded, shaped or pan-fried. For some variations of Tteok you can use normal rice flour.
In Korea, each kind of rice cake has a special meaning and certain rice cakes are cooked for certain events. This recipe tells you how to make a rice cake called Garaetteok, the most common type of rice cake.
The light, nutty flavor of black sesame seeds as well as their striking dark color is what makes these seeds such an alluring ingredient.
Black sesame seeds also make so much sense in a cookie, as they are more flavorful than poppy seeds, for example.
For these seeds to really shine, keep half of them to one side and add them to the dough at the end of the cooking process.
Chewy and slightly sweet, green tea mochi is a classic Japanese dessert.
This recipe tells you how to make not one but two types of mochi with dazzling contrasting colours (white mochi with green tea filling and green mochi with white bean filling). They’re perfect for a Japanese afternoon tea with friends, and are sure to be a huge hit. Serve with green tea or hojicha to really make these mochi shine!
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