If you love cooking and eating Chinese cuisine, then chances are you have found yourself wondering what kind of desserts this fascinating country has to offer. Although most of us enjoy eating Chinese cuisine, very few people have ever sampled an authentic Chinese dessert, which is a shame because there are so many delicious varieties to choose from.
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Chinese food has been popular all over the world for a long time. In fact, Chinese food is so popular that nearly any type of Asian cuisine is sometimes incorrectly called Chinese food. When it comes to desserts, there is much more to Chinese food than cheap fortune cookies and sugar cookies.
So to demonstrate all the amazing dishes you have been missing out on, we have compiled together an extensive list of 22 authentic Chinese desserts. Not only are these desserts delicious and attractive, but they are also made using traditional Chinese ingredients and cooking methods. We could also add shaved ice, sweet soup, egg tart, and rice balls.
So if you wish to explore a side of Chinese cuisine that you have never tried before, our list has everything you need to know about these authentic desserts and their cultural significance.
1. Fortune Cookies
If there is one dessert that is commonly associated with Chinese cuisine, it’s the fortune cookie.
Known to contain small pieces of paper bearing prophetic messages or ancient Chinese proverbs – these sweet and crispy cookies are often enjoyed as a light snack at the end of a large and flavorful meal.
Made from a thin and water batter that consists of egg whites, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and flour – there’s nothing more authentically Chinese than a fortune cookie that has been folded to perfection.
Although they are quite complex cookies to make, they should not be ignored.
2. Almond Jelly
Almond jelly (otherwise known as Annin tofu) is probably one of the most popular desserts in all of China.
Because Chinese cuisine can be so rich in flavor, authentic Chinese desserts tend to be light and delicate in nature – and you don’t get lighter than almond jelly.
Made using an almond jelly that consists of water, gelatine powder, sugar and almond extract – this simple dish is often served swimming in a bowl of fresh fruit salad and sweet runny syrup.
Because the almond jelly is so easy to make, it can be enjoyed by anyone interested in sampling an authentic Chinese dessert and should be served as a palate cleanser after a heavy meal.
3. Mango Pudding
Chinese mango pudding is a sweet and creamy mousse-like dessert that can be found in restaurants across Eastern Asia.
The pudding draws its inspiration from British cuisine and is made using a combination of gelatine, water, granulated sugar, fresh mango puree and evaporated milk.
The final result is a light and delicate dessert that contains all the ripeness of a freshly picked mango.
Because of the pudding’s soft and fruity taste, it is commonly served at the end of the meal as a way to refresh the palate.
Sometimes the pudding will be served in the shape of a goldfish or koi, which is considered a symbol of good fortune in Chinese culture.
4. Egg Custard Tarts
Egg custard tarts are a particularly delicious dessert that first originated in Hong Kong, where they were inspired by the Portuguese pastel de nata.
These tarts can now be found throughout China and have become a popular sweet snack to enjoy at the end of a large meal.
The tarts are made using small discs of buttery pastry, which are then filled with an aromatic egg custard before being baked in the oven.
Traditionally eaten in small quantities, these egg custard tarts are also easy to make and can be prepared from the comfort of your own home in less than 15 minutes.
5. Red Bean Mooncakes
Red Bean Mooncakes are traditional Chinese desserts that are made to celebrate the Lunar New Year, where they are usually served at the end of a family dinner.
Although they are referred to as cakes, mooncakes are not made using a typical sponge and instead consist of a rich dough that has been filled with a sweet red bean paste.
The cakes are considered to be a very complex dessert to make, as the recipe contains various stages that have to be executed perfectly.
Every mooncake is filled and crafted by hand before they are pressed into patterned moulds that give the cake its signature shape and design.
6. Soy Milk Pudding
Doufu Hua (otherwise known as soy milk pudding) is a rich and silky pudding that is made using a combination of soy milk and soybean paste.
The creamy pudding is a popular favorite among the Chinese people, who often make it from home to be served as a dessert after dinner.
The dessert is made using traditional soy-based tofu, which is then combined with gelatin or agar to give it its signature consistency.
Best served cold, this pudding is considered a sweet and refreshing way to round off a large and savory meal.
7. Fortune Cakes
Fortune Cakes (also known as Fa Gao) are heavy and dense sponge cakes that are traditionally served during Chinese New Year celebrations – where they are believed to bring good luck and fortune to the consumer.
The cakes themselves are made from a thick batter consisting of brown sugar, baking powder and flour. Like many Chinese cakes, they are not baked in the oven but are instead steamed over intense heat.
You will know when the fortune cakes are ready once their surface has risen and expanded, giving them a spongy and cup-cake like appearance.
The name Fa Gao is actually a homonym of ‘cake which expands’ which refers to the fortune cake’s ability to split during the steaming process.
8. Nyonya Pineapple Tarts
Believed to have first originated in the Malaysian city of Malacca, these buttery and sweet pineapple tarts are now considered a staple of Chinese cuisine and are enjoyed across the whole of Eastern Asia.
The delicate tarts consist of two major components, a rich butter pastry made from eggs, water, salt and flour.
And a tangy tropical jam filling that combines fresh pineapple with cloves, cinnamon and rock sugar.
The final product is a sweet and decadent dessert that is usually reserved for various Chinese holidays and celebrations.
9. Chinese Steamed Custard Buns
If you are interested in sampling a dish that is considered a quintessential Chinese dessert, then you can’t go wrong with Chinese steamed custard buns.
Otherwise known as Nai Wong Bao, these delicious buns are made using a thick and fluffy dough, which is then filled with an aromatic custard containing vanilla, cornstarch, granulated sugar and heavy cream.
The buns are then proven and steamed over high heat until they have doubled in size. Once they are ready to be eaten, they will traditionally be served as a dim sum dish and can be found enjoyed in Chinese restaurants around the world.
Custard buns are considered a complex dish to prepare, as they are traditionally filled and molded by hand.
10. Sesame Seed Dessert Balls
Next to fortune cookies, we’d say that these sesame seed balls are one of the most popular Chinese desserts in the world.
Not only can these dessert balls be purchased in restaurants throughout East Asia, but they can also be found in street vendors and indoor markets.
Known for their distinctive nutty flavor, these sesame seed balls consist of a crispy fried dough that has been shaped into balls and then stuffed with a sweet sesame filling.
Before being served, they are covered in toasted sesame seeds, which helps to give them a little added crunch.
The balls can also be made to contain other fillings, with the most popular alternatives being red bean paste and peanut butter.
11. Chocolate Chinese Five-Spice Cake
Chinese five-spice features greatly in Chinese cooking, where it is primarily used to flavor cakes and desserts.
Featuring a simple yet intoxicating blend of cinnamon, clove, fennel, star anise and pepper, this particular spice can be worked into anything – including a chocolate cake.
This authentic Chinese dessert combines aromatic Asian spices with a decadent chocolate sponge, creating a layered cake that undercuts the sweetness of the cocoa with warm and fragrant notes.
If you are the kind of person who finds chocolate cake too sickly, then this authentic Chinese dessert is the rustic alternative that you need.
12. Chinese Banana Fritters
Chinese Banana fritters are primarily served as a dessert, but can also be purchased as a sweet snack from markets and vendors on the street.
Arguably one of the simplest Chinese desserts to make, banana fritters are pieces of banana that have been coated in a golden batter and then deep-fried in hot oil.
What you end up with is a plate of crispy fritters, that contain a soft and sweet banana filling beneath the sticky outer shell.
If you want to make this particular dessert even better, then you can drizzle the fritters with a decent amount of honey or maple syrup, before dusting them with powdered sugar and serving with whipped cream.
13. Mung Bean Cake
Mung bean cakes (otherwise known as Dvougo) are a variety of Chinese desserts that are traditionally prepared and served during the summer months.
The cakes are actually similar to mooncakes, in that they are made from a dough which is then stuffed with a sweet filling.
In this instance, the dough is made using mung beans and can change color depending on the type of bean being used. The cakes are then filled with a sweet bean paste and pressed into mooncake moulds to give them their distinctive shape and patterning.
Mung bean cakes are eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, where they are served with rice wine and salted duck eggs.
The Chinese people believe that this ceremony can help to prevent diseases caused by the heat of the sun.
14. Chinese Butter Cookies
Chinese butter cookies or (Xiao Dian Xin) are traditional sweet cookies that are made by the Chinese people to celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year.
These cookies are incredibly simple to make and are known for their rich, buttery flavor and distinctive floral shapes.
Combining five simple ingredients, the cookies will usually be made using a dough that consists of butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, self-raising flour and eggs.
The final result is a tray of cookies that not only pack a sweet and buttery flavor, but that also look beautiful and intricate in their design.
15. Fried Milk
The notion of fried milk may seem like a strange idea, but we promise that this Chinese dessert is one of the best that you will ever have.
Frying milk may sound impossible, but it can be easily executed once you have combined the milk with cornstarch – giving it a thick and pudding-like consistency.
Once the milk has fully set in the refrigerator, then it can be rolled in breadcrumbs and fried in a pot of hot oil.
What you end up with is a sweet and crispy treat that can be eaten as a dessert or as a delicious snack throughout the day.
Although fried milk is very fattening, we think that this amazing Chinese dessert is worth the calories.
16. Steamed Egg Pudding
Steamed egg pudding is a popular Chinese dessert that first originated in Hong Kong, where it can still be enjoyed in restaurants to this day.
Perfect for making at home, this creamy and simple dessert features a delicious blend of four basic ingredients – eggs, milk, rock sugar and water.
The end result of this is a decadent homemade dessert that is creamy, velvety and delicious – think a Chinese creme brulee (just without the topping).
Steamed egg pudding is traditionally considered a sweet dessert and is often served to round off a savoury meal.
Some Chinese people even believe that the soft egg pudding is capable of promoting smooth and silky skin.
17. Bubble Tea
Bubble tea is a sweet and refreshing drink that has become popular across the world, although the original recipe was first created in 1980’s Taiwan.
The traditional beverage usually consists of black tea that has been blended with milk, sugar and ice before it is topped with a spoonful of chewy tapioca pearls.
The drink itself is known for its pungent and creamy flavor, which can be altered depending on the amount of sweetness you prefer.
These days bubble tea can be found in cities all over the planet and is made using a variety of different tea blends and flavors.
18. Chinese Dessert Soup
Yes, you read that right. Chinese dessert soup (also known as Tong Sui) is a traditional Chinese dish that is often served hot and at the end of a meal.
Like any authentic Chinese soup, Tong Sui is packed with a variety of different ingredients, which can change depending on the recipe being used.
Some variations of the soup contain sweet potato and ginger, while others are known to draw their sweetness from pears and snow fungus.
The soup is incredibly easy to prepare and makes the perfect dessert to have on a cold and icy night.
19. Eight-Treasure Rice Pudding
Eight-treasure rice pudding is probably one of the most attractive desserts in the world and is arguably the most complex dish to find its way onto our list.
Made using a sweet and sticky rice base, the pudding is traditionally stuffed with a red bean paste before it is garnished with 8 different varieties of candied fruits and nuts.
The final result is a beautiful and impressive dessert which is then smothered in a warm and floral sugar syrup before being served.
20. Pineapple Cakes
Pineapple Cakes (otherwise known as Feng Li Su) are a famous Chinese pastry that is usually square-shaped and served in honour of the Lunar New Year.
The cakes are made using a cookie-like dough, which is made using flour, custard powder and butter before being cut into segments and filled with a floral pineapple jam.
The final result is a buttery dessert that is simply bursting with a rich and tropical flavor.
21. Chinese Walnut Cookies
Chinese walnut cookies (otherwise known as Hup Toh Soh) are thin and crumbly cookies that are brimming with sweet and pungent walnuts.
Made using a dough that consists of flour, baking powder and sugar, these cookies are then filled with delicious walnuts and sesame seeds before being baked in the oven.
Unlike other cookie recipes, these light and delicate snacks are not overly sweet and can be very moreish after you have sampled a single one.
However, they are also low in calories and can be enjoyed with traditional Chinese tea.
22. Raspberry Snowflake Cake
Raspberry snowflake cake is a sweet and refreshing Chinese dessert that is traditionally served cold and eaten during the heatwaves of the summer.
Although it is referred to as a cake, the dessert is actually more similar to a type of creamy jelly, which is usually made from a combination of raspberries, double cream, potato starch and sugar.
Once the cake has been allowed to set in the refrigerator, it is usually coated in a layer of desiccated coconut, which is meant to symbolize a shower of long-forgotten winter snow.
22 Authentic Chinese Desserts (+Sesame Seed Dessert Balls)
- 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1.5 cups boiling water
- 3 cups rice flour
- 1 cup Chinese red bean paste
- Frying oil
- Dissolve the sugar in a cup of boiling water.
- Add the mixture to the rice flour and stir.
- Form balls and put the bean paste in the center, then roll in sesame seeds.
- Fry on all sides until brown
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