The Spring Festival is the most important annual celebration in Chinese culture. Just like the many festivities and red Chinese New Year decoration, Chinese New Year desserts are crafted to represent wishes and blessings for the near future. To bring you luck for the new year, here are seven sweet Chinese delights you have to try.
Chinese New Year 2020 desserts are necessary for a complete Chinese New Year’s celebration as sweet treats symbolize a sweet life in China. The following are several popular Chinese New Year desserts, each with an auspicious symbolism. Each Chinese family will prepare some of these desserts for Chinese New Year 2020.
A New Year’s celebration wouldn’t be complete without sweet treats. Here are some Chinese desserts that are traditionally served during the New Year season – which typically falls between January and February – as well as fun recipes featuring symbolic Chinese foods. Perfect for guests with a sweet tooth, sticky cake is a classic Chinese dessert that is full of authentic flavors. However, for guests who want something a bit lighter, you can serve oranges, which symbolize wealth in Chinese culture. If you don’t feel up to cooking, some of these items should be available at Asian bakeries, particularly during the Chinese New Year season. 19 best dessert recipes for the Chinese New Year 2020 with step by step photos further in the article.
Sticky Rice Cakes
Made with glutinous rice and brown sugar, these bites of chewy goodness are also known as Chinese New Year cakes. Easy to prepare at home from premade batches, they’re usually eaten at breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Sticky rice cakes are a staple for the Lunar New Year and are considered to bring you luck and prosperity in the coming year. You can find them at T&T Supermarket, Real Canadian Superstore, Asian bakeries, and Kirin restaurants.
Pineapple Tarts recipe with step by step photos for the Chinese New Year 2020
Serves: 10 to 12
Prep Time: 120 minutes
This is one Chinese New Year Cookie recipe that every home baker should know – a recipe for the popular pineapple tarts! Try this easy and affordable recipe from Guai Shu Shu. These cute, crusty cookies topped with pineapple jam will surely delight your guests!
- 300g pineapple jam
- Drops of vanilla essence
- 30g icing sugar
- 125g cold butter, small pieces
- One egg (lightly beaten)
- 250g plain flour
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree Celsius.
- Form 60 balls of pineapple jams equally that weigh about 5 grams each.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces in a bowl. Then, mix the butter cubes and flour until a crumbly texture is formed. Add the icing sugar and mix well.
- Beat the eggs and vanilla essence together, then add to the mixture in Step 2. Stir everything slowly until a dough is formed.
- Leave in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes.
- Roll the dough with a rolling pin until it becomes a flat sheet of about 0.5 cm thick.
- Use the tart mold to press firmly on the dough. Extract the cut dough carefully and place in the baking tray.
- Add a ball of pineapple jam to fill each tart shell.
- Then, place the tarts on the lower shelf of your oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
Made of sticky glutinous rice or yellow rice, nian gao is a sweet treat can be found at almost every Chinese household during the Spring Festival. Serving it during the Chinese New Year expresses wishes to be successful in the years to come. The glutinous rice and yellow rice gives nian gao its distinct texture. When crafted in a certain manner, this Chinese New Year dessert can also depict silver or gold bars.
Variations of the nian gao vary from region to region. In Southern China, they are usually stir-fried along with meat and vegetables and served as a popular Chinese New Year 2020 food. Elsewhere, they are typically offered with sugar and lard as desserts. If you are one with a strong sweet tooth, it is also acceptable to directly dip nian gao in white sugar. The dessert’s signature sweetness represents the wishes of a sweet and successful new year.
Walnut Cookies — Happiness
It is a popular Chinese New Year dessert and almost the whole of China shares the same manufacturing method. The main ingredients are walnuts and flour. The temptingly yellowish cookies have many cracks in them, with a soft texture and walnut fragrance.
Black Sesame Rice Balls
Many different kinds of rice balls are served at this time of year, but the most popular are the ones made with glutinous rice flour and water with a black-sesame filling. This dessert is cooked in boiling water and is usually served with a sweet dessert-soup base. Eating black-sesame rice balls for the Lunar New Year is said to bring the family together, because the Chinese terms tong yoon and tang yuan sound like the phrase that means “reunion”. You can buy frozen packages at your local Chinese supermarket or have them fresh at various Chinese restaurants.
Egg Tarts recipe with step by step photos for the Chinese New Year 2020
Serves: 10 to 12
Prep Time: 45 minutes
The egg tarts that we love began in Hong Kong in the 1940s. Today, egg tarts are enjoyed all over the world, by young and old. Get the full recipe here: Chinese Food.
- 4 to 6 tablespoons hot tap water
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- Stir the flour and 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of salt in mixing bowl. Put in shortening and mix, until the mixture acquires a crumbly texture.
- Pour in enough water to turn the mixture into a dough ball and cut it in half.
- Roll the sliced dough over lightly floured surface until you get a thin layer that is 1/8 inch (0.5cm) thick.
- Cut out 12 circles from thin dough with diameter of about 5cm.
- Put the pastry circles into muffin cups and trim the sides to fully fill the muffin cups.
- Stir in eggs, sugar, and remaining salt in a separate bowl. Add the milk. Pour about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of egg mixture into each pastry.
- Bake in preheated oven at temperature 180 degree Celsius for about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Test the readiness with a knife inserted in the centre of the egg custards. If the knife comes out clean, the egg tarts are ready.
In most of the names of these Chinese New Year desserts, the “gao” is a wish for prosperity. With fa gao, the “fa” expresses the desire for gaining wealth or making a fortune. To make fa gao, rice is soaked and then grounded into a paste. It is then fermented long enough that fa gao keeps its shape and does not open up. Also, it is very important that the paste is stirred every once in a while during this process. After fermentation, fa gao is then steamed. The most exciting part of making fa gao is when you lift the lid. It is believed that the luck this treat brings to your family depends on the quality of the finished product. The fluffier the cake and the cleaner the surface, the better!
You may also experiment with adding different vegetables and fruits to alter the color of the fa gao. Corn flour is used to create golden fa gao, carrots result in joyful red-orange, while green tea radiates a wonderful spring feeling. Fa gao can also be served as delicious Chinese New Year 2020 snacks.
Peanut Brittle — Longevity and Good Fortune
This is another popular way to eat peanuts, especially during the Chinese New Year period. This sweet, crispy, and fragrant dessert is mainly made with shelled peanuts and malt sugar. In markets, you can find beautifully packed peanut brittle, as well as peanut brittle sold by the meter.
Water Chestnut Cake
This Cantonese dim sum dish has a translucent appearance and tender texture. Made of shredded Chinese water chestnut, the cake is usually cut into small squares and pan-fried before serving. It’s a favourite in Hong Kong that’s especially popular during the Lunar New Year. The Cantonese term for “cake” sounds the same as “rising” or “growth”, making this dish a symbol of prosperity and rising fortunes. You can make your own water chestnut cake at home or try it at the Jade Seafood Restaurant in Richmond.
This savory cake is also among the most commonly served Chinese New Year desserts. Popular in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian, the turnip cake is mainly made out of shredded Chinese radish. Other ingredients include rice flour and various flavoring. Additionally, you may opt to add bits of food like sausages, dried shrimp, shiitake, or peanuts. Turnip cakes can be pan-fried to make the outer crust crumbly, or non-fried to make it soft all-over. In some dim sum restaurants, you can even customize a turnip cake to suit your taste.
For the Hakka ethnic culture, turnip cakes are a specialty during the seventh day of the Spring Festival. The people of Hong Kong prefer to stir-fry turnip cakes with XO sauce, while in other places like Taiwan, turnip cakes are commonly served as a breakfast dish. Hakka turnip cakes are more traditional than those in other regions. All you have to do to make them is steam, sprinkle diced green onions on and serve!
Kuih Bahulu – Chinese New Year 2020 deserts
Prep Time: 40 minutes
These spongy little cakes are household favourites in Singapore and Malaysia. The reason is simple. It is so simple to make yet the flavour is appetising, for every person regardless of their age! Get the full recipe here: Guai Shu Shu.
- 4 eggs
- 120g of self-raising flour
- 120g of sugar
- Some vanilla essence
- Mix the eggs and vanilla essence in a mixer until the texture turns foamy. Add in the sugar along the mixing process.
- Continue to mix until the texture expands to at least twice to three times the original size.
- Lightly grease the Kuih Bahulu mold and pre-heat it in an oven at 200 degree Celsius.
- When the egg mixture expands and grows paler, slowly pour in 1/3 of the flour with a filter.
- Use a spatula to stir until well mixed.
- Repeat step 5 by adding the rest of the flour.
- Fill the Kuih Bahulu mold with the batter and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Take it out and let it cool completely before storing in the container.
Shelled Peanuts — Vitality and Longevity
Chinese name: 鱼皮花生 yúpíhuāshēng /yoo-pee-hwaa-shnng/ ‘fish skin peanut’
Peanuts are also known as longevity nuts, symbolizing vitality and longevity in Chinese culture. Chinese people have invented many ways to eat peanuts, and making fried flour-coated peanuts is one of the most popular ones. Shelled peanuts are coated in a syrupy mixture of brown sugar and flour, and then baked until they are light brown in color.
Sweet Red Bean Soup
A traditional Chinese dessert that’s sometimes eaten as a late-night snack, red bean soup is a favourite for any celebration, including Lunar New Year. Made with red beans, sun-dried tangerine peels, and lotus seeds, the sweet dessert soup contains vitamins B and E. It’s usually eaten hot, and variations include the addition of glutinous rice balls, or sago. You can make your own at home using a few simple ingredients found in Chinese supermarkets. If that’s too time-consuming, you can try a bowl at many Chinese restaurants—including Leisure Tea and Coffee in Richmond.
The Chinese are fond of infusing flower petals to their desserts such as the sweet osmanthus jelly – another staple treat during the Spring Festival. In Chinese culture, the osmanthus symbolizes auspiciousness, friendship, and success. Simply based on this representation, it’s no wonder the osmanthus jelly is one of the most popular Chinese New Year desserts! Authentic osmanthus jellies are made without artificial flavoring. Aside from the petals of the osmanthus flower, key ingredients of this dessert include glutinous rice powder and bits of crystal sugar.
People from the city of Xianyang use a special osmanthus jam made of preserved petals and the addition of different Chinese herbs. Glutinous rice is stir-fried, grounded, steamed, and added to the jelly. Black sesame, salt water, and white sugar are then mixed with the dough. Needless to say, the osmanthus jelly is a fragrant, sweet, and savory delight.
Shrimp Floss Rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
This may not be a traditional Chinese New Year dessert recipes, but shrimp floss rolls are one of the most popular snacks served during Chinese New Year. The spicy and savoury taste is a great foil to the rest of the other authentic Chinese desserts. Get the full recipe here: Guai Shu Shu.
- 500g of sambal udang kering or shrimp floss
- 10 sheets of spring roll pastry (125mm x 125mm)
- 1 tablespoon of plain flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of water (mix well)
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degree Celsius.
- Cut each spring roll pastry sheet into four equal squares.
- Apply flour paste to the edges of the square.
- Put a small quantity of shrimp floss on the centre. Then fold both sides (left and right) inwards and followed by rolling up the side nearer to you quickly.
- Stick the edges to the pastry. You may use more flour paste to seal places that start to loosen.
- Remember not to use too much shrimp floss as it will make the rolls hard.
- Bake the ready rolls in the pre-heated oven of 160 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes.
- Seal in an airtight container when completely cool.
Crispy Peanut Dumplings
Shaped like golden nuggets, these deep-fried snacks (or desserts) are usually filled with a mixture of peanuts, sesame seeds, coconut, and sugar. The crust is intricately braided—which is the hardest part of making this at home. The dumplings’ colour symbolizes wealth for the coming year. It’s much simpler to buy these dumplings than to prepare them at home, and you’ll find them at Asian bakeries, T&T Supermarket, and Real Canadian Superstore.
Also referred to as “steamed rice cake with sweet stuffing,” ai wo-wo is another one of those Chinese New Year desserts with glutinous rice as the primary ingredient. What sets it apart from the other sweet Chinese treats is its texture. The mixture of dough made of steamed rice powder and glutinous rice makes ai wo-wo look like freshly fallen snow!
For the filling, you can make it out of sweet ingredients like sugar, walnuts, black sesame, hawthorn, or Chinese yam. You can also press jujube fruits on top of ai wo-wo if you want more blessings to come your way.
Fried Dough Twists — Reunion
Chinese name: 麻花 máhuā /maa-hwaa/
This fried food is a little bit harder than a sesame seed baguette. Two or three bars of dough paste are twisted together and fried until they are crispy. It is much more popular in North China. The fried dough twists produced in Tianjin are the most famous in China, due to their renowned crispy texture, rich flavor, and creative ingredients. They are a specialty of Tianjin.
Southern rice balls
Customarily eaten as the first breakfast of the New Year in the regions of Jiangsu and Shanghai, these rice balls are boiled before being served in hot water. These sweets have mouth-watering fillings made of common sweet ingredients like red bean paste, black sesame, melted sugar, peanut paste, and even jujube. Southern rice balls can also be fried or steamed. You may also serve these delightful Chinese New Year desserts with vegetable or meatballs to make it more savory.
Northern rice balls
The main difference between southern rice balls and northern rice balls lies the process of their preparation. The former is often made to resemble a peach – a symbol of longevity, while the latter is formed in the shape of a ball, which in Chinese, is a homophone of reunions. Northern rice balls are usually served during the Lantern Festival, the final day of the Chinese New Year. The significance of the round shape could also be understood as to celebrate the Lantern Festival, as there is a full moon during this night. These treats will definitely make your viewing experience of the full moon even better! The phrase “there is always room for dessert” could not be more accurate in times of celebrations like the Spring Festival. With the help of these delicious Chinese New Year desserts, make your reunion dinner even sweeter!
Categories: Christmas Desserts