Chinese New Year is just around the corner, with 2022 being the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese zodiac. Those born between the start of the festival and 21 January 2023 are said to possess characteristic such as bravery, competitiveness, unpredictability, confidence and willpower.
This tradition is celebrated when a new moon appears, which has been a theory celebrated for more than 5,000 years. I personally remember celebrating this as a child in a Western primary school, and that was quite some time ago! Chinese New Year is becoming more popular worldwide, with average revenue retail sales during this period growing by an estimated 5% each year between 2011-2021.
With such a momentous occasion brings an opportunity to create some delicious food in celebration of the new moon calendar. To get you in the spirit of Chinese New Year, we've compiled 3 of our favourite sweet treat recipes for you to enjoy throughout the Year of the Tiger...
1) Red Bean Mooncakes
A delicacy in Eastern culture, mooncakes share similar characteristics to that of pastry with a flaky, crumbly and rich yumminess! These are typically consumed on special holidays only, so here's how you can get your hands on these bites of heaven...
Ingredients - for the soft dough
3 cups - All-purpose flour
20g - Sugar
160g - Fat/lard
250ml - Warm water
Ingredients - for the pastry dough
265g - Cake flour
140g - Fat/lard
Ingredients - for the sweet filling
450g - Red adzuki beans
3 1/2 cups - Water
5g - Dried orange peel
1 cup - Oil (vegetable is preferred)
190g - Rock sugar (or to taste, your choice)
Method (for the sweet filling)
2) Place over a high heat for around 25 minutes. Once this time has passed, allow to heat for a further 10 minutes over a medium-to-low heat.
3) Once the time has passed, carefully open the lid to release the hot steam then remove from the heat.
4) Allow to cool then blend the ingredients until a puree is created.
5) Fetch a nonstick pan and heat 1 cup of oil (your choice) over a medium heat.
6) Add the red bean puree and sugar together and cook until a thick paste forms (30-40 mins over a medium-to-low heat). Continue to stir in more oil if required throughout.
7) Once this time has elapsed, let the paste cool until warm to touch.
Method (for the soft dough)
1) In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour and 2 tbps of sugar. Form a deep hole in the centre of the mixture and add the fat/lard.
2) Begin mixing with a spatula, whilst adding 3-4 batches of water to the mixture, maintaining the consistency throughout.
3) Continue to fold the dough to form a smooth ball, then cover this once mixed with clear wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
Method (for the pastry dough)
1) Combine 2 cups of cake flour with the fat/lard, then knead these two ingredients to form a dough.
2) Roll into a ball, then cover with clear wrap.
3) Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes with the soft dough.
Method (assembling all ingredients)
1) Take both dough mixtures out of the fridge and weight each ball.
2) Calculate: Total weight of both balls ÷ Number of balls of red bean paste = Amount of dough needed for one mooncake.
3) Once you have calculated how much paste each mooncake needs, place each dough onto a flat surface and divided into two equal portions.
4) Cover your kitchen surface with flour then press the soft dough into a large disc shape, adding the pastry dough in the middle of the flour.
5) Close all sides of the dough to form a large ball (continue to flour the work surface to avoid any sticking).
6) Roll the mixture with a pin into a rectangular shape with a thickness of around 0.6cm.
7) Fold the rectangular shape into a tri-fold, then roll it out again into a rectangle shape that is around 0.3cm thick.
8) Roll up the sheet on the longer edge into a tube, then cut this into cylinders as per the weight you calculated earlier.
9) Take one of the dough segments and roll the dough into a 4-inch circle, then add a ball of your juicy red bean paste filling in the middle and close the sides together.
10) Flatten the balls into a 1-inch thick disc, then place on a sheet lined with baking paper. Repeat this process until all mooncakes have been made.
11) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C (Gas Mark 5) and place the tray in the middle of the oven.
12) Bake the mooncake mixture for 15 minutes, carefully flipping each mooncake throughout, then bake for a further 15 minutes.
13) After this time has passed, remove from the oven and allow to cool until you're able to handle them!
14) Serve and enjoy!
2) Chinese Fortune Cake with Goji Berries
If you're looking for a filling, sweet breakfast option to kickstart your day - this is the recipe you'll want to try!
Ingredients (serves 6)
3 cup - All-purpose flour
390ml - Hot water
6 tsps - Baking powder
1 1/2 cup - Sugar (brown or white)
30g - Dried goji berries
1) Melt the sugar and hot water in a pan, then add the dried goji berries to soften in the mixture. Once softened, set to one side. Remove a couple of softened goji berries as we will use these for the topping.
2) Combine your flour and baking powder, then add the sugar-water mixture.
3) Stir the batter for around 3-5 minutes to allow it to thicken (the longer you can mix the better - work those muscles)!
4) Once this has thickened to your liking, pour the goji batter into small cupcake molds.
5) Fill a deep pot completely with water, bring this to the boil and then place a tray on top to form a steamer.
6) Once the water has boiled, place the mixture on top of the tray to allow the batter to stream cook for around 10 minutes on a high heat, then a further 10-15 minutes on a medium-to-low heat.
7) Remove from heat and place a goji berry on top of each fortune cake.
8) Allow to cool to room temperature - serve and enjoy!
3) Chinese Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon & Orange
To top off your Chinese New Year celebrations, we're concluding our favourite sweet recipes with the icing on the cake (pun intended)...
30g - Dried Orange Peel
3 sticks - Dried Cinnamon Bark powder (grounded)
1 cup - All purpose flour
1/2 tps - Baking powder
1/2 tps - Baking soda
2/3 cup - Grated chocolate (your choice)
1/4 cup - Coffee brewed
1/2 cup - Buttermilk
1 tps - Vanilla extract
1 - Large egg
1 cup - Sugar (your choice)
1 cup - Extra thick cream
12oz - Chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
Method (cake base)
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (Gas Mark 4).
2) Bring together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon powder and whisk together in a bowl.
3) In a separate bowl, mix the brewed coffee and grated chocolate together.
4) Stir together until the chocolate has melted in the mixture. Add the vanilla extract and buttermilk, then blend a little longer until thoroughly mixed.
5) Set mixture aside, then in a large mixing bowl, beat the egg and sugar until light and airy (fluffy mixture - should take around 3 minutes).
6) Combine this with the chocolate mixture and stir with a spoon.
7) Once the mixture has combined, pour this into two cake pans and place these in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
8) After this period, remove the cake pan and let it cool to room temperature.
1) Grab a nonstick pan and a large bowl.
2) Heat the extra thick cream to boiling point, then pour the chocolate chips on top and allow this to sit for 4-5 minutes (no stirring required).
3) Whisk this mixture until thick (should look like a rich chocolate brown like the image above).
4) Pour a small amount of this ganache mixture on top of the cake layer and allow time for this to cool to room temperature.
5) Run the ganache mixture across the rest of the cake to form of a thin layer on top (use a flat spatula to help).
6) Top the chocolate cake with dried orange peel (and coffee beans, if you like) for a sweet topping, and any remaining cinnamon powder.
7) Chill for 2 hours in the fridge before serving.
8) Once this time elapses, cut into slices, serve and enjoy!
Now you’re prepared with 3 sweet treat recipes to try over Chinese New Year, you can join the movement and taste some herbal goodness. We’d love to see you put a creative twist on these recipes, so please send us your food pics on Instagram and tag us at @vitaherbalnutrition!
For any additional recipe ideas using Chinese herbal ingredients, click here.