The Best Taiwanese Desserts You Need To Try 

Douhua is also known as tofu pudding
Douhua is also known as tofu pudding | © MielPhotos2008 / Getty Images
Taiwan is a culinary epicentre in the region, with a strong foodie culture. Delicious, great-quality food can be found everywhere in restaurants and street stalls. Here are some of our favourite puds with steps on how to make them.

Texture is a priority in Taiwanese cuisine, and it is no different when it comes to desserts. There are all kinds of sweet treats, drinks and cakes to try, and if you are not familiar, then hold on to your taste buds, as you’re in for a foodie adventure of flavour and texture like you’ve never tasted before.

Taro balls

Taro and sometimes sweet potato are used to make this chewy Taiwanese dessert. They’re usually purple, although the ones made from sweet potato are yellow. They can be eaten very cold or warm, and are often used as toppings for other desserts such as douhua and shaved ice. To make these yummy balls, click here.

Taro balls are a firm favourite and often served with other sweet snacks | © Marek Slusarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

Douhua

Douhua, or tofu pudding, is an old-fashioned Taiwanese dessert that many remember from childhood. It’s made of fresh tofu and served in a pool of brown-sugar or ginger syrup syrup. It can come with various toppings such as peanuts or taro balls, and is sometimes eaten with a peanut syrup. It’s a comforting pudding served warm, but you can eat it cold too. It can take a long time to prepare at home, but it’s worth the effort.

Grass jelly

Jelly desserts are popular in Taiwan and “xian cao”, or grass jelly, is made using mint extract. This black jelly, with a mild herbaceous taste, is shaped into cubes and served cold with syrup or condensed milk. It can also be added to other desserts such as shaved ice. Here’s how to make it at home.

Grass jelly with coconut milk and palm sugar | © Ariyani Tedjo / Alamy Stock Photo

Shaved ice

A block of ice is turned into thin shavings, then served, topped with seasonal fruits, syrup or condensed milk, tapioca, taro balls, among other things. It is eaten all year round, but is especially loved in the heat of the summer. It’s cousin, “snow ice”, is a similar dessert made from thin shavings of frozen milk or cream.

Mochi

This Japanese import is incredibly popular in Taiwan. They are small, round, gelatinous rice cakes that are chewy and mildly sweet; they come in different flavours such as sesame seed, matcha, taro and, most commonly, peanut. It’s eaten as a snack with tea, or as a sweet ending to a meal. You can also make it at home.

Mochi is a small, round, gelatinous rice cake | © Arco Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Sun cake

This disk-shaped pastry have a sugary or crunchy centre – if it has a soft, gooey centre it’s known as a wife cake. Both are made of paper-thin, powdery layers of pastry, which you can much with a cup of tea or dip into milk for breakfast. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the recipe here.

Ma lao

This traditional dessert or snack is a finger-shaped rice cake, deep fried and covered in maltose and crushed peanuts. It’s fibrous in the middle but melts in your mouth when you bite it, while the outside is sticky and crunchy.

Pineapple cakes

These tasty little snacks, also known as feng li sun, are extremely popular in Taiwan and famous all over the world. They are square with a shortbread exterior and a sweet pineapple jam-like filling. They are not only delicious but also symbolise good luck and prosperity. For a step-by-step recipe, click here.

Pineapple cake is one of Taiwan’s most popular desserts | © Addy Ho / Alamy Stock Photo

Moon cakes

Moon cakes, or yeubing, are traditionally eaten during the Moon Festival in September. They are usually given as gifts during this time, with many decorating their boxes. They have a thin crust and a thick, sweet filling, and their round shape symbolises the full moon and the coming together of families. Traditionally the filling is made from taro paste, red bean or lotus seed, although nowadays there are all kinds of fillings to choose from. For a quick and easy recipe, click here.