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Eight Treasure Rice Pudding

Servings: 8
Eight Treasure Rice Pudding is one of those Chinese New Year desserts that you may have tried once or twice in your life, perhaps at a Chinese banquet or party, but have never bothered to learn how to make. At first glance it looks like SO much work. Attempting the multicolored design made from candied fruit, molded into sweet rice can be a threatening task to anyone who feels that he or she is less than an artist. Contrary to what it seems, Eight Treasure Rice Pudding is probably one of the easiest Chinese desserts to make, aside from fresh-cut oranges.

For the Pudding:
200g (7 oz.) dates, stoned and chopped
255g can (8 oz.) red bean paste
450g (1 lb.) glutinous rice
600ml (1 pint) cold water
40g (1 1/2 oz.) lard (or shortening), melted
2 tablespoons sugar
25g (1 oz.) angelica
Red and Green glace cherries
2 oz. flaked almonds

For the Syrup:
100g (4 oz.) sugar
250ml (8 fl. oz.) cold water
1 teaspoon almond essence (extract)
1 tablespoon cornflour
3 tablespoons water

1. Mix the chopped dates with the red bean paste.

2. Rinse the rice, drain, then place in a 2 litre (3 1/2 pint) saucepan and add the cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 25 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of lard (or shortening) and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well.

3. Grease a 1.2 litre (2 pint) heatproof bowl or pudding mold and line it with three-quarters of the cooked rice. Spoon the bean paste mixture on to the rice and then place the remaining rice on top. Spread the rice evently and press down flat with the palm of your hand. Put a plate over the bowl (or mold) and unmould the pudding carefully onto a serving dish.

4. Decorate the top of the pudding with the angelica, red and green glace cherries and flaked almonds in an attractive pattern. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap then put the original bowl back over the pudding and turn it back into the bowl. Remove the plate and cover the top with plastic wrap. Steam the pudding for at least 1 hour. The pudding can be reheated.

5. While the pudding is steaming make up the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small pan and boil until the sugar dissolves. add the almond extract. Blend the cornflour and water and stir in to thicken the sauce.

6. When ready to serve, unmould the pudding carefully and peel off the plastic wrap. Pour the hot syrup over the top and serve at once.

Makes 8 servings.

Notes: Other fruits may be used for decoration if desired, such as apricots, pineapple, prunes, papaya, wintermelon, coconut, and lotus seeds.

ANGELICA Definition:
[ an-JEHL-ih-kah ] This sweet "herb of the angels" is a member of the parsley family. Grown extensively in Europe, its pale green, celery-like stalks are most often candied and used as decorations for cakes and other desserts. Angelica is also used to flavor LIQUEURS.

Source: The New Food Lover's Companion, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Source: Cookbook
Date: January 18, 2003