Chinese cuisine may be world-famous, but some dish names just don't translate well (ants climbing up a tree, anyone?). Below we list five desserts that, while in desperate need of rebranding, are nevertheless delicious.
1. 'Double-skin milk' (双皮奶)
This Cantonese steamed dessert tastes kind of like pudding. Done right, the texture is creamy, soft and smooth. Ingredients are kept simple – milk (traditionally from water buffaloes), egg white and sugar – but the process of cooking (i.e., creating the 'two skins') can be surprisingly tricky. Eat it plain or with toppings like red beans, mango or lotus seeds.
2. 'Ginger milk curd' (姜撞奶)
The name literally translates to 'ginger hits milk,' which is a pretty accurate description of how this Cantonese dessert is made. Warm, sweetened milk is poured into a bowl with ginger juice, then covered and left to set for a few minutes. The result is a delicate, milky concoction with a zesty ginger kick. Whatever you do, though, don't stir – the ultra-soft texture might revert back to liquid form.
3. Eight treasure rice (八宝饭)
With ingredients like lard and glutinous rice as well as a fruitcake-like appearance, this dessert can be a little off-putting. But health concerns aside, it's much better than it looks (and sounds). Warm babaofan is sweet, soft, and studded with 'treasures' – tasty dried fruit and nuts. It's also sticky and filling, so we recommend going easy on this after-dinner treat.
4. 'Sugar oil cake' (糖油粑粑)
This Hunanese dessert may not look like much, but it's a tempting snack when made fresh. The recipe is easy: combine glutinous rice flour with water, then pan fry lightly. Add in sugar water to caramelize, and you'll soon have chewy, sweet, golden-brown 'cakes.' The simple treat is served in Hunan restaurants and street food stalls, but it's also a cinch to make at home.
5. Wife cakes (老婆饼)
Also known as sweetheart cakes, this Cantonese dessert is made of candied wintermelon inside a flaky pastry crust. Origins of the name have been lost to time, though more than one story gives credit to a loving couple. Ironically, since lard is involved in their creation, wife cakes probably aren't that great for your heart.
Bonus: 'Condom ice cream' (安全套雪糕)
While trawling the Chinese net in search of desserts, we came across this awkwardly-packaged frozen treat that shocked and alarmed parents back in 2009. Despite appearances, the paopao xueni ('bubble slushie') dessert was not wrapped inside a condom, and even enjoyed some popularity among schoolkids. It seems to have fallen out of production since, sadly – proof that the world just wasn't ready yet.