more sweets in china....not a total wasteland
I'm still somewhere in China at this point, though not sure where. All I know is we head through Macau to Hong Kong tomorrow. Which means no more firewall! I may end up flooding social media with photos if I can. I have been told the wifi at the next hotel is not the greatest--yeah. Anyway, we are at a Sheraton and it has a Starbucks in the lobby. Yes, there are a handful of them around, but no where near as prevalent as SF. Oh, it also has a fast wifi connection, thus I'm putting this post before we leave tomorrow.
Beyond my previous post, I did want to at least put forth a few things sweets wise I've come across that haven't been bad. I do try to scout out any bakery that might be nearby and try my best to get to them. While folks were visiting some museum or something, I ventured out on my own. Down the street, around the corner and along a stretch of busy road that had a fair number of other tiny food spots locals go. That's when I spotted this little stand with trays of cookie things. I stopped, perused, pointed, then handed over what seemed like only a couple bucks and went on my way.
Many cookies I came across of the crumbly shortbread type of variety, it's just the flavor adds that changes. It's why I only got two of that type before getting adventurous. The above swirly ones were coconut and the other, obviously, sesame seed. Usually I like my cookies crunchy along the edges and soft in the middle, full of gooey chocolate. But you are not going to find that in China. Not too sweet, you could taste the coconut and sesame seeds aplenty in each one. They remind of the kind of cookie you'd likely have at an afternoon tea or something. Wouldn't normally be my first choice but, as is, they were good (enough).
The heart shape on the left was sure enough a plamier. I was a bit surprised to see it and had to get it. Hard, crisp and crunchy with plenty of melted, then hardened sugar crystals. The cookie was more flaky than crumbly with what I'm sure my brain was imagining as something akin to butter. I did like it and it is much like you'd find at a European or stateside bakery.
That horn thing has a crust similar to the palmier. The filling was like butter, but not butter. Not quite creamy, not quite solid with mild sweetness. A local who spoke English told me it was egg powder cream, which is exactly as it sounds. Egg powder, some sugar, some butter, some....yeah, I think that was it. I'm not sure whether I totally believe her, but it was like one of those horns you get at an Italian bakery but with a filling that is heartier and thicker. This gets a thumbs up too.
The other one is 2 soft cookies with sweetened green bean paste inside. Hard to tell what the cookie was here as the filling pretty much overpowers everything. While they call it green bean paste they really mean mung beans, same deal as the red bean stuff. (If you wanna know what's in it, I'll let you Google it. Or Yahoo it, if you are in China) Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite. The SO liked it though. The designs on the cookies mean double good luck or happiness. Whether that means in eating it or giving it to someone I was a little fuzzy on.
There are a couple bakeries in SF's Chinatown serving up this tiny pie and people there seem to clamor over them. I figured they were a thing here, but have only come across them twice so far in all the bakeries I've hit. Still, when I see them, I pick up a few and share around. Little egg custards in flaky crusts--it's like a small perfect little 2 bite (for me) treat. They are best right out of the oven when the custard is still on the pudding side. Though, they are still tasty when they cool off and the texture becomes more flan like. I think they use lard in the crust and not butter so it'd be nice to try one like that sometime, but I may have to make my own for that. One place I had these put a small squirt of blueberry jam inside adding a nice twist I liked a lot.
Okay, so this isn't exactly China specific, but when I saw in that bakery, I really wanted to try it. The SO said I was just going to be disappointed as it could just be one of those airy pretty desserts. Turns out is wasn't exactly like a cheesecake, but it's not far off. The topping tasted more cooked fresh sugar and cherries than that tinny flavor you get from canned ones. The cake part was not a thick hard cheesecake, it was more whipped cream cheese that was almost spongy. The crust was graham cracker, but it did lack that nice butter flavor you usually get. Not sure what they used, but it ain't butter. The basic flavors of cherry cheesecake are there, and the fluffy-ness reminds of the frozen variety cheesecake you get from the store which has the same texture. For the moment I was in and craving most anything with a wit of heft, this pretty much hit the spot for me. It's not China, but after 16 days, I really didn't care.
That's it for this batch. I did come across a surprise find in Shanghai I'll cover next time. I was either delirious form lack of food or something, but, well, you'll see. Till next time, look out Hong Kong here we come!