Chinese Dessert Recipes

Lai Yut, Chinese Beautiful Moon Tart RecipeLai Yut, Chinese Beautiful Moon Tarts
(Source ©suphatthra-china/123RF)

Traditional Chinese dessert recipes from the early 1900s are extremely rare and difficult to find, but since the Chinese were positively among the first to create what we now call confections, it is only fitting that I include several on this website.

Below are recipes for San Char Go, Gum Lu, and Lai Yut, the Beautiful Moon Tarts now called Mooncakes. Enjoy making homemade desserts that are truly special.

Traditional Chinese Dessert Recipes

Chinese-Japanese Cook Book (1914)

Lai Yut / Beautiful Moon Tart — Mooncakes

Two cupfuls of rice flour; one tablespoonful of clarified goose fat; two eggs.

These tarts are sort of a dumpling. Work a heaping tablespoonful of clarified goose fat into two cups of rice flour. Add ice-cold water slowly to make a stiff paste.

Roll out, brush with the whipped whites of eggs, and fold over several times, each time brushing with egg; then roll about quarter of an inch thick and cut into rounds about the size of a small saucer.

Put in the filling, and place another round of paste on top. Press together at the edge, forming a rounded edge, and brush all again with white of egg.

Bake for fifty minutes in a moderate oven, then remove the outer flake, which will leave the tart snow white. Decorate with a yellow moon in the center, cut from candied orange peel or painted with fruit coloring.

Moon Tart Filling:

Two cups of lychee nuts, stoned and mashed to a pulp, one and one-half cupfuls of sugar, quarter of a cupful of crystallized limes, and a teaspoonful of mixed spices. Mix all well together, and use to fill tart.

Another Moon Tart Filling:

Quarter of a pound of beef fat, cut in small pieces, one cupful of chopped dates, one cupful of preserved pineapple, quarter of a cupful of blanched chopped almonds, one and one-half cupfuls of sugar, and one teaspoonful of mixed spices. Mix thoroughly.


San Char Go — Red Date Candy

A favorite Chinese candy made from red Chinese dates. The fruit is first mashed to a pulp, then mixed with powdered sugar and gelatin, beaten into a paste, rolled in sheets as thin as paper, and spread in the sun to dry.

After it has dried crisp, it is cut into squares of six by four inches, wrapped in waxed paper, and packed in bundles. It has a delightful piquant flavor, tart and sweet.

Almond Cakes

Chinese Almond CakesEnjoy Little Chinese Almond Cakes
(Source: ©szefei/Depositphotos.com)

What's a collection of traditional Chinese dessert recipes without an authentic recipe for Chinese almond cake? Now, you can enjoy the little almond cakes once enjoyed by the highest Mandarin of Shanghai.

Two cupfuls of rice flour; one-quarter cupful of almond oil; one-half cupful of chopped almonds; one and one-half cupfuls of powdered sugar; two eggs.

Mix thoroughly two cupfuls of rice flour, one and one-half cupfuls of powdered sugar, and half a cupful of blanched almonds, chopped very fine, with a quarter of a cupful of almond oil. Moisten with two beaten eggs. Use no water, and if too stiff, add more egg.

Roll about a quarter of an inch thick, and cut in fanciful shapes. Place half an almond in the center of each cake, and bake them for one hour in a moderate oven.

These cakes are certain to keep for a long time if they are placed in a tin box.

Gum Lu — Golden Cakes

One and one-half cupfuls of rice flour; one cupful of honey; one-quarter cupful of mixed nuts, chopped; three teaspoonfuls of clarified goose fat; yolks of two eggs; pinch of salt.

Take one and one-half cupfuls of rice flour and a pinch of salt and into this work three teaspoonfuls of clarified goose fat. Then chop very fine about a quarter of a cup of minced nuts. Beat the yolks of two eggs, and mix all together.

Now pour in one cup of raw, dark honey. If too moist, add more flour. Stir thoroughly for fifteen or twenty minutes, and pour into small cake pans, well oiled, and bake slowly for two hours.

Traditional Chinese Dessert Recipes

The Chinese Cook Book (1917)

Chinese Sugar Bars CandyChinese Sugar Bars of Sesame Seed and Peanut Candy
(Source: ©luknaja/Depositphotos.com)

"These Chinese Dessert Recipes are written in such a clear, simple form that anyone by following its rules can prepare dishes of rare delicacy and flavor." —Shiu Wong Chan, author of The Chinese Cook Book, 1917.


Hon Yun Buen — Chinese Almond Cake

1 pound flour
1/2 pound sugar
1/2 pound lard
5 eggs
1/4 teaspoonful alkaline solution (substitute baking soda)

(a) Mix the flour, sugar, lard, eggs, and solution well on a suitable board. Add a little quantity of lard at a time until every particle of flour will contain an equal amount of each substance.

(b) Make into a cake of any desired size. In the center of each place an almond.

(c) Put into a suitable pan and bake in the oven until nicely browned. The length of time depends on the temperature of the oven and the amount of cake.

Guy Don Go — Chinese Sponge Cake

Chinese Sponge CakeMake Guy Don Go — Steamed Chinese Sponge Cake
(Source: ©Stripped_Pixel/Depositphoto.com)

10 eggs
1 pound sugar
2/3 pound flour
A few drops of lemon juice

(a) Beat the eggs in a suitable bowl. Mix well with sugar. Beat for an hour, being careful always to beat in one direction.

(b) Mix with the flour and lemon juice.

(c) Put into a suitable pan and steam for 3/4 hour.

This traditional Chinese dessert recipe is so easy yet the cakes are so light and delicious.

Mar Ti Go — Water Chestnut Pudding

2 cups water chestnut powder
1 cup sugar
6 cups water

(a) Dissolve the water chestnut powder in a little cold water. Mash well.

(b) Now add the sugar and the 6 cups of water. Stir well.

(c) Put into a suitable pan. Steam until done (about 1 hour).

Out Fun Go — Lily Root Pudding

2 cups lily root powder
1 cup sugar
6 cups water

(a) Dissolve the lily root powder in a small quantity of cold water. Mash well.

(b) To this add the 6 cups of water and the sugar. Stir well.

(c) Put into a suitable pan. Steam until done (about 1 hour).

Far Sung Tong — Peanut Candy

1 pound peanuts
1/2 pound sugar

(a) Fry the nuts in a hot pan for 10 minutes. Take off the skins.

(b) Put 1 bowl of water in a hot, oiled pan. To this add the sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until there is no water left.

(c) Mix the peanuts with the sugar on a board. Roll while hot until the mixture is 1/2-inch thick. Let cool.

(d) Cut to desired size.

Ge Mar Tong — Sesame Seed Candy

1 pound sugar
4 ounces cornstarch
2 handfuls sesame seeds

(a) Oil pan well. Pour into it 1 bowl of water and then the sugar and cornstarch. Cook until no water is left.

(b) Roll out on a board sprinkled with the sesame seeds. Roll into balls or bars. Let cool.

Chinese Dessert Recipe for Fritters

Chinese Cookery in the Home (1911)

Chinese Fritters RecipeTry This Easy Recipe for Chinese Fritters
(Source: Chinese Cookery in the Home, 1911)

Fried Chinese Fritters

Two cups of rice flour; one-half cup sugar; scald both together with hot water and mix like bread, kneading lightly. Roll into little balls and cook in deep fat as you would ordinary fritters or doughnuts.

About the Chinese Dessert Recipes

When these old fashioned recipes were first published in 1914, Chinese food had just become popular in North America. Chinese restaurants were commonly found in many cities, and most challenged the competition by providing the finest in restaurant cuisine.

However, in that day, Chinese cookbooks were quite rare so there were hardly any Chinese foods made in the average kitchen. Now, you have access to authentic recipes so you can make your own.

These delicious Chinese confections make the perfect treats to serve after a special meal, especially after a Chinese dinner. Try one of these traditional Chinese dessert recipes today.

Chinese Cookbook History

Chinese-Japanese CookbookChinese-Japanese Cookbook

When the Chinese-Japanese Cook Book was originally published in 1914, it was the first of its kind.  In China, cookbooks were nonexistent, and traditional recipes were highly prized.

The following excerpt from the book's Preface explains:

"No cookbooks, so far as the authors know, have ever been published in China. Recipes descend like heirlooms from one generation of cooks to another.

"The recipes included in this book (the Chinese ones, that is) have been handed down from Vo Ling, a worthy descendant of a long line of noted Chinese cooks, and himself head cook to Gow Gai, one time highest mandarin of Shanghai.

"They are all genuine, and were given as an especial expression of respect by a near relative of the famous family of Chinese cooks."

We are truly privileged to have these rare, traditional Chinese Dessert Recipes.

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