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This Is Why Asia Wins at Dessert

Sure, we can lay claim to the Cronut (croissant donut) and Milky Bun (ice cream stuffed donut) as some of the craziest desserts to hail from the United States in recent memory. While our country is churning out fantastic and bizarre sweets week after week, our neighbors to the East have also been crushing it for centuries.

Check out some of the most unique desserts enjoyed in Asia that you may not even have heard of.

Khanom Cha

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A classic Thai dessert, Khanom Chan literally translates to “layered dessert.” Similar to Woon Bai Toey (sweet coconut milk and pandan jelly), Khanam Chan boasts a gelatinous taste. Made from pandan leaves, sticky rice flour, and coconut milk, the dish is steamed and stacked together in multiple layers. Nine, a number of prosperity, is usually the amount of layers seen in the dessert.

Luk Chup

The process of making Luk Chup is a bit tedious: grinding steamed mung beans into a paste, molding them into the shape of fruit, coloring them, and finally glazing them in gelatin. Still, once you’ve accomplished all those steps, you’re left with a plateful of vibrant desserts that look like candy versions of the real thing, each complete with different layers of flavor and textures originally intended for Thai royalty.

Mooncake

A classic Chinese dessert that can most commonly be found during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Mooncakes are pastries filled with red bean or lotus seed paste. Each mooncake is imprinted with a variety of Chinese characters that stand for either “longevity” or “harmony.” You can also find the name of the bakery inside each cake.

Cathedral Glass Jello

Also known as Broken Glass Gelatin, this vibrant dessert in the Philippines is made from condensed milk and a variety of colored Jello. Once it’s finished, it resembes “Broken Glass” or the stained windows of a majestic cathedral.

Woon Bai Toey

Made from the aromatic pandan leaf and coconut, Woon Bai Toey is a Thai gelatin dessert that boasts a creamy and nutty flavor with a chewy texture. The dessert typically follows a spicy Thai dish to help refresh the palate. FoodTravelTVEnglish shows you the step-by-step process to create this dessert.

Che Ba Mau

A dessert soup or pudding that’s found in Vietnam, che is made from mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, tapioca, jelly, and aloe vera. Che Ba Mau is a variation of the dish that is comprised of three main ingredients as Ba Mau translates to “three colors.” Choice of beans vary as long as the three colors are distinct.

Leche Flan

In the Philippines, leche flan is a celebrated dessert that originated as a Spanish dish. Made with condensed milk and egg yolk, the sweet dessert is steamed over an open flame. Unlike the Spanish variation of flan, the one served in the Philippines is much more rich — featuring more egg yolks and sugar.

Yagkwa

A deep-fried Korean pastry, Yagkwa is made with wheat flour, honey, and sesame oil. Yagkwa originated as a medicinal cookie that’s soaked in honey. Because of how much honey it contains and being deep fried at low temperatures of 248-284 degrees F, the pastry is both moist and soft when you bite into it. ARIRANG CULTURE did a recipe video for those curious.

Patbingsu

Bingsoo 🍨

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Patbingsu, or “red beans shaved ice,” is a Korean dessert made of shaved ice, ice cream, condensed milk, red beans, and fruit. The earliest known variation of the dessert dates back to the year 1392. Today, you can find the cold dessert at most Korean restaurants and dessert spots specializing in the icy treat, adorned with chopped bits of fruit and plenty of syrup.

Higashi

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A type of wagashi (a Japanese confection), higashi is made with rice flour. Featuring intricate designs, the sweet and starchy dessert can typically be found during tea ceremonies. The creation of wagashi desserts came after China began producing sugar and traded it with Japan.

Raindrop Cake

Is it even food? Idk lol 💁💁💁 #looksgoodtho #raindropcake

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A highly popular dessert that started out in Japan, the Raindrop Cake became immensely popular among social media stateside once it debuted at New York food market Smorgasburg by Chef Darren Wong. Made from water and agar, a vegan sort of gelatin, the cake resembles a giant raindrop. Typically, raindrop cakes are served with a roasted soybean flour and molasses or honey to add flavor.

Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake

Known for their fluffiness and distinct jiggle, Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecakes started in Japan over 30 years ago. These cheesecakes are made up of flour, eggs, cream cheese, sugar, baking powder, honey, butter, milk, and a special Australian cheese. The result is a super soft, rich, and flavorful cheesecake that’s got as much moves as a bowl of Jello! Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecakes became so popular that multiple franchises have sprouted all over the world to cater to the popularity of these moist wonders.

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#foodbeast Cravings FOODBEAST Sweets

Food Fight: Creme Brulee vs. Flan

flanPhoto: Flickr

In one of the tastiest tussles to date, this week le petit creme brulee and feisty flan are coming head to head, or rather, plate to plate, to see who reigns supreme when it comes to desserts of cream.

Maybe you assumed the two were one in the same. Maybe you scoff at the idea that they could even be considered comparable. Nevertheless, we’re diving straight into the facts to determine who’s the king of custard.

 

Texture and Consistency

Flan:

The body of a typical flan is eggy and gelatinous, with plenty of jiggle-room. It’s essentially baked custard—eggs, gelatin, vanilla, and cream or milk.

Nuances will vary subtly or not so subtly depending on if you’re enjoying, say, a Spanish flan versus a Mexican one. For instance, your flan will most likely be drenched in a sweet milky-caramel syrup if it’s Latin-style, like dulce de leche. Or, it might be presented with a layer of burnt or caramelized sugar on the bottom—almost like an upside-down creme brulee (almost)—if it’s European.

 

Creme Brulee:

Cream, eggs, and vanilla extract are all whisked up and boiled into a pudding-like custard base for the creme brulee. After the base has been refrigerated and is nice and chilly, sugar is sprinkled on top and browned with a torch to create a delicate layer of caramelized goodness (creme brulee translates to “burnt cream”).

 

Where You’ll Find It

Flan:

Flan’s roots trace way back to Europe (the ancient Romans considered it a “health food”). Today the dish is most popular among Latin American countries, as well as the Philippines and the US—which explains why you can find it in both independent/specialty and chain restaurants (El Torito, anyone?).

 

Creme brulee:

Creme brulee also traces to Europe, the name itself is French. Now, the brulee is a household name, but more often in the houses where chefs or eager-to-learn foodies live. It’s not likely you’ll come across a creme brulee labeled for individual sale per se, but there have been creme brulee findings at dessert bars of various buffets (like Vegas, baby).


What’s Working For You

BOTH:

The flan and the creme brulee are not for the amatuer chef. Both require patience, dedication, expertise, and a lot of your time. A decent creme brulee might take you about three to four hours from start to finish, whereas a flan might set you back six.

It’s probable you won’t be able to master either of them on the first try, and that’s the beauty of it all. If you want it, you need to work for it. Follow your dreams. Follow your creams.

 

What’s Working Against You

BOTH:

Though both desserts are undeniably complex in more ways than one, their essence can still be too easily captured, reformulated, and ultimately, cheapened for the masses. To put things into perspective: Starbucks has already tapped into both desserts to create the Creme Brulee Latte and Frappuccino, and the Caramel Flan Latte and Frappuccino, within the last few years.

Though, it’s also worth mentioning that one is more likely to come across mass-produced flan than dollar-creme brulee.

 

Winner:

creme brulee

Creme Brulee

For this round, we’re calling creme brulee the custard champ. It’s complex, refined, and exquisite—not that the flan isn’t, but did we mention you need a torch to complete the creme brulee? This is definitely the creme of the crop.

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#foodbeast

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Picthx Scrotumnose

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Video

[VIDEO] Prune Flan Stop Motion Recipe

Inspired by a mother’s family recipe, Carrol Luna recently revealed a stop motion video depicting the step-by-step process in creating the coveted Prune Flan dessert. The recipe adaptation, the video and music is all original to Carrol Luna, a true nod to a complete artist.

Of course, if watching awesome minute-long video recipes isn’t your steeze, she’s made the recipe available in a text version online. You’ll have to trust me though, this video is pretty sweet:

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Cravings Sweets

Pumpkin Flan

Enough with all of the pumpkin based cakes, cupcakes, and pies! Halloween is getting closer and it is time to bring in the heavy artillery! First wave of assault is going to be this Pumpkin Flan! A traditional flan base that is combined with an Autumn twist! Pumpkin, cinnamon, cognac, mascarpone cheese, honey cardamom pumpkin seeds and sweet coca nibs will take down any sweet tooth you might have this holiday!  (Thx BitchinCamero)

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Cravings

Craving: Chinese Steamed Flan

chinese_steamed_flan

This is definitely a weird one for me because traditionally the flan I eat is from Mexican restaurants. But in this case we have some Chinese steamed flan, either way it still sounds awesome.