Chinese Walnut Dessert Soup
When I lived in Hong Kong several years back, I used to frequent this Chinese dessert place called Honeymoon Desserts at least three to four times a week. Now, it's not typical in that they don't specialize in those Asian desserts where you have a ton of fruit and beans piled on top of gigantic mounds of ice. They don't really have cakes although, they did have yummy treats like mochi and durian pancake (I'm not a fan of durian either). But what they are spectacular in, and was the reason I went, are Chinese dessert soups.
I know you've heard me talk about them before. These are sweet soups traditionally served warm, that maybe something as simple as ground up sesame seeds - similar to a porridge and then sweetened lightly with some sugar. It sounds mundane, but man, is it delicious. Everything is creamy, but not because of dairy. And the cool thing about Honeymoon Desserts is you can mix and match. So if I wanted black sesame soup mixed with peanut soup, then add in some tapioca pearls, and maybe some mango slices (maybe I went a little off with the mango), I could totally do that. You want your soup served cold, they can do that too. It's traditional stuff, but the place has found a great way to incorporate modern flavors and textures.
My recipe is for a traditional walnut soup, which is essentially walnuts pureed with a bit of water. Chinese slab sugar is added in for flavor. Again, I know it doesn't sound spectacular, but the walnuts and their oils inside produce this rich and creamy flavor that is not heavy or overbearing. The soup is silky smooth and just glides down your palate. The natural components in the walnut actually thicken up the soup very well, but usually, a bit of rice flour is added to act as a thickener.
I decided to change this up a little and add toasted rice, which will give the walnut soup that fragrant flavor you get similar to that in Japanese toasted rice or barley teas. The soup is rich, fragrant, and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness to bring it all together.
1. On medium to medium-high heat, toast walnuts and rice for several minutes until fragrant and golden. Set aside to let cool.
2. In a saucepan, bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the walnuts and rice. Boil for 1-2 minute uncovered and let cool.
4. In a larger saucepan, pour in walnut puree and heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Add in slab sugar and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes while whisking occasionally. Turn off heat. Soup should be thick and creamy. Additional water or milk can be added if a thinner consistency is desired.
- 2 cups shelled walnuts
- 1/4 cup rice
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 slabs brown candy (3 oz)
- milk (optional)