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By Steven Li on 2007-07-07

July 07, 2007


Today’s post is devoted to a few of my favorite sweets in Bangkok. I loved how I could eat such a wide variety of desserts and sweet snacks without feeling weighed down or to out-sugared (the way I do after a big wedge of fudgy brownie or a hunk of warm bread pudding).

At the floating market we paddled our way pass many little boats selling everything from mango sticky rice to meringue crepes, curries, fruits, and this one item I hadn’t seen before…

It’s a plump, yeasty cake griddled and folded in half. Edges are crisp and burnt on some sports but the inside half is spotted with holes like a light sponge. The cake itself has no flavor on its own aside from a touch of sweetness, but the innards are dusted with a generous mix of fresh shredded coconut, crushed peanuts, sugar, and just a dabble of salt for contrast. The cake edges curl up, enforcing a makeshift wall to hold in the dust of fillings. But still, you must be careful, cause once you bite one end, everything seems to fall out the other!

This is quite a simple desserts and I’ve encountered many variations on it in Vietnam, and even in Hawaii on some occasions. Squares of pandan jelly topped with shredded coconut, it’s a straightforward and mellow, if not refreshing dessert. It’s most often eaten at room temperature, but I prefer it refrigerated till the jelly turns all super chilly – perfect for Bangkok’s insanely hot weather.

I’m a huge fan of grass jelly based desserts and often keep at least three jars of the canned jelly in my pantry. For dessert on hot days, I just open up the can, chop the jelly into big chunks and serve over a bowl of crushed ice and a dabble of honey. At this food stand near the Chatuchak Weekend Market the cubed jelly was topped with chunks of ice, a thin pandan syrup and spoonfuls of brown sugar. It was definitely a more dressed up version of what I’m used to, and the mounds of brown sugar was slightly excessive, but I just can’t get the taste of the wispy, fragrant pandan syrup off my mind. If I could only figure out how to remake the syrup at home, you’d find me attempting to mix it into drinks, pastries, dessert soups…oh the list would go on forever!

I’ve already done a post for the durian sticky rice (which is hands down the best dessert in the wooooorld, hehe), but I did make sure to save space for other sticky rice based desserts. This one here is a tasting order of four colors of sticky rice: yellow, purple, white, and green…for aesthetic purposes only, cause they all taste the same. The yellow layer you see on the top left and bottom right are thin cuts of sweet pandan custard that seriously melted into the warm square of rice. Top right is the shredded coconut, peanut, sugar and salt mix found in the pancake (the first picture in this post). And on the bottom left is another sweet-salty mix, I could not figure out what the ingredients were (it was good, so I just ate it without a thought!), though my mom claims dried shrimp was involved in the mix.

Oh man, ok, you’re really going to like this one! While wandering through the Ancient City (hour drive outside of Bangkok, it’s a life-sized remake of a town in ancient Thailand) we passed a stand selling a wide selection of desserts, and even though it was only 9:00 in the morning, who would be silly enough to pass up on dessert?!

Here’s a closer look. My mom was absolutely obsessed with this particular dessert. You see four pieces, but I only got to eat the one you see cut open – my mom insisted on having the other three for herself! Each glorious log however in a land between soft jelly and mochi, a creation all it’s own. Bite open the sticky layer doused in sesame, sugar, salt, peanuts, and long strands of fresh coconut and you’ll find a brilliant, and somewhat refreshing mix of sweet and nutty mung beans. The colors and contrasts of textures from the soft jelly, fresh coconuts and crisp beans, and that whole sweet-salty craze…gah, this was definitely a memorable dessert!

We also got this dessert from the same stand. You wouldn’t believe how many different kinds of desserts they sold – and each one was so colorful, it was like picking among rainbows :)

8 round balls on from the same jelly/mochi base as the previous, but the outside here is simply covered in shredded fresh coconut. Every little orb houses a sticky sweet-salty mix, nutty and demands just a bit of chewing effort, but yields and melts right into your mouth at the perfect moment. You have to take my word for it, these Thais know what they’re doing: keep it simple, use fresh ingredients, don’t make it too sweet and always add a touch of salt!

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