Asian Dessert Recipes

Asian desserts can be completely different than Western desserts. Some desserts come in the form of sweet and creamy broths, others come in the forms of different textures and tastes. In this webpage, I will feature my favorite and easy to make desserts. They are:

- Pulut hitam, black glutinous rice with coconut cream

- Red bean soup

- Bubur cha cha, a Nyonya coconut and starch delight

- Bubble tea

- Muar chee, a Malaysian sticky glutinous rice ball coated with sweetened crushed nuts

- Apam balik, a Malaysian turnover pancake or crêpe

- Talam agar agar, a Nyonya tow-layered coconut jelly

Pulut Hitam

I recently tasted this at a house party so I decided to try it. I cooked it in my Instant Pot pressure cooker and it turned out great!

Ingredients (Yields ~2 liters of servings):

1 cup of dried black glutinous rice, 4 cups water and a few pandan leaves. Gula melaka, brown sugar, salt and coconut cream to taste.

2 more cups of hot water to adjust the consistency.

Optional: cooked sago pearls.


1. Wash the rice multiple times until the water runs clear

2. Pour the rice with 4 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Set it to cook for 1 hour

3. After an hour, let the pressure release naturally

4. Stir in another cup of water, pandan leaves, gula melaka and brown sugar. Switch to slow cook for 30 minutes

5. Adjust the consistency by adding hot water. Season with some salt. Let it cook for another 10 minutes and stir occasionally

6. Serve warm or cooled with coconut cream. Add cooked sago pearls

Bubur Cha Cha

Bubur cha cha is a delicious Nyonya dessert that is made of sweet potato and yam in coconut milk. The name suggests it is "mixed porridge". You can serve this hot or cold. The recipe below is very easy to make. Feel free to adjust the ingredients below to meet your desired consistency and taste. 

Ingredients (Yields 6 to 8 servings):

1 large sweet potato, 2 small Japanese yams, 1 small tapioca, 1 can of coconut milk (400ml), 400 ml water, 1 tsp pandan extract and 1 tbs brown sugar.


1. Peel away the skins of sweet potato, yams and tapioca. Cut to 1/4 inch cubes

2. Fill a medium sauce pot halfway with water. Place a steamer basket over the water and cover. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat

3. Distribute the cubes in the steamer basket, cover and cook until the cubes are fork tender (~15 mins)

4. Remove the basket from the pot. Pour away the water

Steamed cubes

5. In the same sauce pot, pour the cubes and add coconut milk and water. Stir in pandan extract and brown sugar 

6. Bring the mixture to a boil over low heat (~15 mins)

7. Remove from heat and serve in dessert bowls. Enjoy!


1. I have omitted many other ingredients commonly found in bubur cha cha such as tapioca balls, banana, black eyed beans and jelly. Feel free to add them.

2. If you don't own a steamer basket, you can boil the root veg. I noted that steaming them tasted better and cooked faster than boiling. Steam has a higher temp (100 degC) than boiling water, thus cooking food faster.

Red  Bean Soup

Red bean soup is served as a dessert in Asian cuisine. There are many variations to this dessert- some includes lotus seeds and coconut milk like my recipe. It can be served chilled during hot summer days or hot during the cold winter months. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Yields 5 servings):

1 cup of dried red beans (azuki beans), 5 cups of water, 4 tbs coconut milk, 1 tbs dried lotus seeds and 1 tbs sugar.


1. Rinse dried red beans and lotus seeds. Remove hollow beans, skins, stones or dirt

2. Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a pot. Add red beans and lotus seed. Reduce to low heat and boil for an hour

3. Add sugar and stir. Boil until the red beans and lotus seeds are soft

4. Add coconut milk and stir. Serve hot or chilled


If you like a thicker consistency, reduce the amount of water. Add more sugar if you like a sweeter soup. 

You can use a crock pot / slow cooker to make this soup. Add green mung beans for variation.

Red bean with lotus seeds soup

Bubble Tea

To be honest, I learned about bubble tea when I moved to the States. It was originated in Taiwan and slowly spread all over the world. Bubble teas are made with milk and/or juice and tapioca balls. In this recipe, I purchased dried tapioca balls and mix them with my favorite drinks. The balls taste neutral so you can pretty much add them in any your favorite drinks. 

Ingredients (Yield 2 to 3 drinks):

0.5 cup dried tapioca balls, 5 cups water, and 3 glasses of your favorite drinks


2. Reduce heat and cover the saucepan. Let it boil for the next 5 mins.

3. Scoop the balls into your drinks. Serve with bubble tea straws!

Fully boiled tapioca balls. Expanded by 50%

Bubble teas with fruit juice

Muar Chee Recipe

Many Malaysian desserts are made with glutinous rice flour (also known as sweet rice flour). I had some leftover flour and decided to make a long forgotten dessert called muar chee. The dessert contains sticky balls coated with crushed nuts and sugar. Traditionally peanuts are used but I'm substituting with walnuts.


0.75 cup glutinous flour (I use Mochiko),  0.5 cup water, 0.5 cup coconut milk, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 cup toasted walnuts, 3 tbs sugar and 0.5 tbs sesame seeds 


1. Crush walnuts. Combine walnuts, sugar and sesame seeds. Spread on a plate

2. In  microwavable bowl, mix flour, water, coconut milk and sesame oil. Microwave on high for 2 mins. Check mixture and continue to microwave in one minute intervals until flour mixture is cooked and sticky

3. Dump sticky mess in the walnuts mixture. Coat it with sweetened nuts.  Cut to bite sizes and roll to coat the balls completely

4. Serve with toothpicks.

Muar chee with toasted and crushed pistachio and almond

Apam balik

Apam balik is a delicious Nyonya turnover dessert with peanut and/or sweet corn filling. It comes in two textures- crispy thin or chewy thick. In my recipe, I adapted Seasaltwithfood's chewy version by adding an elegant twist to the filling :) 

Ingredients (Yields 6 to 8 servings):


1.25 cups all-purpose flour, 0.5 tsp baking powder, 0.5 tsp instant yeast, 1 large egg, 2 tbsp sugar, and

1 cup water


1 cup roasted peanuts- coarsely ground, 0.5 cup toasted almond slivers, 0.5 cup sweet corn, 2 tsp organic honey, and 2 tbs melted butter


1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, instant yeast, egg, sugar, and water. Wrap the bowl and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight

2. Mix sweet corn, honey and butter

3. Lightly oil a small non-stick pan or a crepe pan (about 5 to 6 inches diameter) over a moderate heat. When the pan is hot, add about 0.5 cup of batter, evenly coating the pan. Cook for about 1 minute until the batter sets and form small bubbles

4. Sprinkle nuts and buttered corn. Continue to cook until the pancake is light golden brown in color 

5. Loosen the edges. Fold the pancake into half, and transfer it onto a plate

6. Slice into 2 or 3 pieces and serve warm with your fav hot beverage 

Talam Agar Agar

Talam agar agar is an easy Nyonya two-layered coconut jelly. The recipe below came directly from five o'clock teaspoon website. I substituted the rose water with pandan extract.

Ingredients (Yields 4 servings):

Bottom layer:

2 g (scant 1/2 teaspoon) powdered agar-agar

1 1/2 cups water

1 pandan leaf

3 Tbs sugar

A drop of pandan extract

Top Layer:

1 g (scant 1/2 teaspoon) powdered agar-agar

1/4 cup thick coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 pandan leaf

1 Tbs sugar

pinch salt

1. Heat the ingredients for the bottom layer in a saucepan until agar dissolves. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Rinse ramekins under water. Pour liquid into ramekins and place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes to set.

2. Heat the ingredients for the top layer in a saucepan until agar dissolves. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Remove ramekins from refrigerator and pour over the firmed bottom layer. Return to refrigerator for 10 minutes or until set . To serve, loosen the agar-agar with an offset spatula and turn onto plates. Sprinkle with toasted dried coconut and drizzle with some extra coconut milk.

General agar-agar to liquid ratio:

3.5 g desiccated agar blocks per 2-3 cups of water (1/2 to 3/4 liter)

2 g powdered agar per 2 cups water (1/2 liter)