Every country has its own ways to treat their sweet teeth, so what are the popular Chinese sweet treats? If you visit China, here are some examples you may see in China's local restaurants.
After I moved to the UK, I started to realize how wonderful Chinese food is as I couldn’t have that much authentic Chinese food anymore.
But there is one type of food in the West maybe better than China, yes, the desserts, (not the chocolate bars). In the West there are so many types of desserts, fantastic looks and great tastes, well, let's just forget about their sugar and fat for the moment.
In the West, the dessert appears in the menu as it is one proper course of a meal, and having something sweet to finish a meal seems to be a tradition. But this is not the case in China.
I guess there are two reasons for that. First, China is still a developing county. For me, and maybe for many Chinese, having the dessert sounds so luxury that still beyond our expectation.
Maybe for the younger generation who like to experience the West style of living, sweet treat is not a surprise. But for majority of Chinese, having a dessert is not a tradition.
Second, I don’t think Chinese kitchen has the right facility to make those western style desserts. For example, there is no oven (except microwave oven) in our kitchen. Chinese home cooking does not use butter, cheese or excessive sugar. For me, I never saw butter or cheese until I first went abroad in Italy.
Sure, China has baking shops to make those cakes or western style pastry, but it is not easy to bake at home. That’s why we have so many steamed buns, not the baked breads.
Therefore I can often tell whether a cookbook is based on authentic Chinese food by looking their dessert recipes ;)
But we do have our own Chinese sweet treats. In this post, I will show you some examples of sweet stuff you are likely to see in China's local restaurants.
In my memory, perhaps the fried buns with cream custard （奶油馒头）and the fried pumpkin cakes （南瓜饼）are the most popular ones. You are likely to see them in the China local restaurant’s menu.
It is made from smashed pumpkin and sticky rice, tastes slightly sweet. Another version of this type of cake maybe stuffed with sweet red bean mash.
Back to many years ago, most Chinese restaurants would offer the fruit salad as the final treat for the guest, such as fruit is a big plate, called shui guo ping pan 水果拼盘.
A Hunan local buffet restaurant offers the dessert with fruits and cake.
What a nice fruit and drink :)
A Hunan local grill restaurant has this very interesting dessert, toast with pineapple and fried ice cream （油炸冰淇淋）.
Yes, they really fry the ice cream on the hot iron plate before they put it on top of the toast. What a bizard way of eating, right?
They also have the pan cakes filled with sweet red bean mash and dried grapes.
In China, those sweet stuffs are more often seen in the snack restaurants. By the way, I have never seen any snack restaurants in the West except the café bars.
For example, in the famous Hunan snack restaurant Changsha Fiery Palace Temple, they have this typical sweet sticky rice balls. I guess in English, it should say the rice balls with syrups?
In famous Beijing Huguosi Snack Bar, they offer all types of traditional (old style) Beijing snacks.
I ordered four famous Beijijng snacks: Ai Wo Wo 艾窝窝, Lv Da Gun 驴打滚, Wan Tou Huang 豌豆黄 and Jiao Quan.
More details for Beijing Huguosi Snack Bar and these snacks can be found from the above link or click this picture.
Of course, nowadays the restaurants are changing as well, more and more places start to introduce the western style desserts.
Here is one kind of pastry, but still filled with sweet red bean mash.
The creamy cakes from Changsha Fiery Palace Temple snack restaurant.
So, these are the examples of Chinese sweet treats you likely to see in China local restaurants.
In the next post, I will show you the sweet food we have in our daily meals.
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