Can we all agree that the dessert world is getting out of control lately? From over-the-top, boozy milkshakes topped with the contents of an entire flippin’ candy store to matcha soft serve wrapped with 24-karat golf leaf, there’s seemingly no end to the crazy, outrageous desserts. So, when it’s time to take a step back from the trendy, show-stopping desserts, turn to the classics. And for me? That includes Asian desserts.
Asian desserts really don’t get the praise or the recognition they deserve. Sure, some may not be the most approachable, like ginger milk curd, a popular Cantonese dessert; but they’ve all stood the test of time for one reason or another — whether it be halo-halo, a Filipino shaved ice dessert that’s gaining popularity and features layers upon layers of gelatin, coconut, sweetened beans and ube ice cream (among other ingredients), or the undeniably classic flan-like Japanese dessert, purin. Truly, there’s something for everyone in the Asian desserts world.
Ahead, we’ve gathered the Asian dessert recipes you should make ASAP, because once you do, you’ll find yourself with you new favorite go-to treat.
Banh bao chi
Banh bao chi are Vietnamese snowballs, and what makes them so special — aside from how their sweet, irresistible taste — are all the varying textures: a soft center, a chewy outer layer and a crunchy coconut exterior.
Coffee & cream agar jelly
Light and refreshing, agar agar jelly is a popular dessert in Thailand — and widely used in Thai cuisine. Coconut and mango are popular jelly flavors, but this coffee dessert might beat ’em both. Vegan and no-bake, this coffee and cream agar jelly dessert will undoubtedly give you a mid-day jump-start.
Thai mango sweet sticky rice
A traditional Thai dessert made with rice, fresh mango and coconut milk, mango sticky rice is a favorite among many. For Joyous Apron, specifically, it’s one of her all-time favorite desserts, and once you make her recipe, you’ll be hooked, too.
Originating in Hong Kong but also popular in Taiwan, mango sago is a tangy, creamy and sweet dessert comprised of mangoes, tapioca pearls and milk.
Mochi ice cream
We’re sure you’ve had mochi ice cream — those soft and chewy, frozen Japanese dessert now sold down the aisles of Whole Foods and in various grocery stores’ ice cream sections. But have you ever tried your hand at making mochi ice cream? Just One Cookbook’s recipe may seem complicated and will take you about an hour to prep, but it’ll be so worth it the second you bite into one.
Turon is basically banana lumpia. And if you’ve never heard of lumpia, lumpia can simply be described as Filipino egg rolls. In short, bananas are rolled into lumpia wrappers, fried and — in the case of Pinch of Yum — heavily doused with a coconut caramel sauce.
Biko is a sticky rice cake dessert popular in the Philippines. Made with rice, coconut milk and brown sugar, biko is best described by The Little Epicurean: “sweet, fragrant and a little over the top.”
Ginger milk curd
A popular Cantonese dessert, ginger milk curd may sound unappealing, but give the silky, slippery dessert a chance. To make it, you simply pour hot milk onto ginger juice, and Red House Spice does a great job taking you through exactly how to make the dessert in just seven minutes.
Ma lai go Chinese steamed cake
That’s right, this vanilla and brown sugar cake typically found on dim sum carts in China and Hong Kong is steamed, not baked. So, before you attempt to make ma lai go, get a steam and an electric mixture.
If you’ve ever been to any Chinese food buffet, you’ve seen these light, airy, fluffy donuts caked in sugar. It was probably my favorite part of the whole experience (even when I felt too stuffed to continue on, there was always room for at least two doughnuts). Well, we’re about to make your entire week because you can actually make these from scratch in less than one hour, following Handle the Heat’s recipe. Oh, and go buy an extra bottle of canola oil for frying — you’ll need it.
Considered quintessential Japanese street food, fish-shaped Taiyaki is an incredibly popular dessert, especially at festivals. Stuffed with red bean paste, Taiyaki can be served as either a wafer or a soft pancake. Yes, you’ll need a special pan for this, but luckily Amazon sells them for just $22.99.
Purin is a Japanese custard pudding similar to flan, and Chopstick Chronicles’ recipe takes just 35 minutes to make.
Inutak, a Filipino delicacy, is a sticky rice cake layered with coconut cream and purple yam. It pairs well with ube ice cream, too!
Commonly found at a Filipino New Year’s celebration, palitaw are sticky rice patties or balls (or whatever shape the family so chooses) rolled in a generous amount of coconut shavings and sprinkled with sugar and toasted sesame seeds.
For a vegan-friendly Asian dessert, turn to nian gao, a sweet rice cake traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year.
Filipinos love, love, love halo-halo. A shaved ice sundae, halo-halo is typically layered with sweetened beans, gelatin, coconut, and various fruits, like mango and jackfruit; and topped with evaporated milk and ice cream, like ube.
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