8 Delectable Asian Desserts to Add to Your Recipe Repertoire
If the first thing you think of when trying to conjure up the perfect finish to a spectacular Asian feast is a mango ice cream, congratulations! You just won the boring dessert award. Well, we’re joking, but still – there are a gazillion different options for sticky, sweet, unctuous desserts using sugar, spice and all things nice. Add these delectable Asian desserts to your recipe repertoire and everyone will want an invite to your next dinner party.
Black Sesame Honey Custards
Photo and recipe courtesy of Serious Eats
These jiggly, creamy and delightfully light custards are flavoured and sweetened with honey – and made with just five ingredients, they have a similar texture to a panna cotta but are much simpler to make than you might think. No worrying about putting ramekins into a water bath and making sure that the boiling hot water doesn’t slosh everywhere as you pull the dish out of the oven. Mix cream, milk, gelatin, honey and ground toasted sesame seed – pour into ramekins, chill and leave to set. Voila! Perfect dessert.
Mango Cobbler with Coconut Cream
Photo and recipe courtesy of The Kitchn
Mango based desserts aren’t all bad. But there’s much, much more that you can do with them than blend with sugar and throw into an ice cream maker. In fact, mango is surprisingly versatile – and particularly yummy when cooked. A sweet, comforting dessert that is the perfect finish to your favourite Asian meal, the gloriously doughy coconut cobbler topping soaks up the warm, juicy mangoes brilliantly.
Vanilla Roasted Pears
Photo and recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
There’s something about whole roasted pears that just looks so fabulous – very much like you know exactly what you’re doing. They’re what I like to call the perfect show-off dessert – and luckily, they are super, super, SUPER easy to make. This recipe uses vanilla pods and butter for flavour, resulting in a divine pear caramel that’s just begging to be poured over vanilla ice cream – but it’s also really easily adaptable, too. Add a pinch of cardamom, a sprinkle of sesame seeds or just a handful of crushed blanched almonds – whatever you like, really, and serve with ice cream, or a pastry or cake of some sort to soak up all of that delicious caramel.
Vietnamese Coffee Tart with Fresh Pomegranate
Coffee? Check. Condensed milk? Check? Ever so crisp pastry shell that practically melts in the mouth? Check! Making things even more mouth-watering is the addition of sweet and slightly sour pomegranate. Now, you may think it has no place near coffee – but it helps to pep things up and cuts through all of that rich, super-sweet flavour from the coffee curd. If that really isn’t your cup of tea however, you could omit the pomegranate and add a light sprinkling of cocoa powder instead. And don’t, under any circumstances, leave the lemon juice out of the pastry. It’ll provide just the right amount of flakiness to the crust.
Green Tea Ice Cream
Photo and recipe courtesy of Gourmet via Epicurious
When you just don’t have the energy to do lots of chopping, roasting, mixing and baking – in other words, when you just want to throw something into a blender or an ice cream machine, this green tea ice cream recipe will fast become your saviour. With a silky smooth mouth feel that’s not too greasy – heavy cream is cut with whole milk to create a lighter finish – it’s a make-ahead dessert that can eaten as-is or spooned atop of your fave chocolate cake. Don’t skimp on the eggs, either – they add richness and also create a delicious texture.
Pomegranate Fortune Cookies
Photo and recipe courtesy of What Jew Wanna Eat (a Jewish cooking site, but it’s a Chinese recipe)
Fortune cookies have a bit of a bad rep – either they’re the bearer of bad news, ridiculously difficult to make, or they’re far too sweet. Well, if you follow a good recipe (or – and here’s our top tip – make a double batch so that you can get plenty of practice and get your technique bang on) they’re actually a lot easier to make than you might think. This recipe uses pomegranate juice, which gives the cookies a slightly sweet flavour and a gorgeous pinky purple hue.
Photo and recipe courtesy of Pinch of Yum
These little soft, squishy, coconutty balls of loveliness remind me a little bit of chocolate truffles. Not in the way that they taste, mind – just in the way that you have to roll them between sugared hands before rolling in the topping/coating of your choice. They’re particularly yummy warm (and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to keep your hands off them long enough for them to cool down – they are that good), although they’re also good cooled, wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon and given away as gifts. And if you have kids? Add a few drops of food coloring to the flour mix to make palitaw that are all sorts of pretty colors.
Mango Lassi Popsicles
Photo and recipe courtesy of A Spicy Perspective
Finally, for something a little bit fun and frivolous – all of the fresh, lightly spiced flavor of a traditional mango lassi packed into our favorite transportable dessert, the popsicle! The bottom of the popsicles are covered in a thin layer of salty pistachios to add a little bit of crunch and contrast to the sweetness. If you like, add more or less cardamom, depending on your personal preferences.
So – whether you like your dessert cold and creamy, ooey and gooey (see what we did there?!) or prefer the sticky sweet goodness that is roasted fruit with sugar and spice and all things nice, these Asian desserts have got you more than covered. Feeling adventurous? Make ‘em all. Who needs main courses? Or appetizers? You’ve got homemade ice cream. Happy cooking!