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Oct 7, 2010 09:09 PM

Sweet Vietnamese pastry?

I'm catering an small event which calls for Vietnamese hors d'oeuvres. The savory side of the menu is taken care of, however we'd like to serve hot and cold Vietnamese coffee afterwards. I am trying to think of something to nibble on that would go with the coffee and still be Vietnamese. If I weren't restricted, I could think of dozens of Western-style pastries that are made to be consumed with coffee. To my surprise, I haven't been able to find something comparable from Vietnam, despite the French influence. One idea I had was to make pâté chaud with a sweet filling instead of pork. Maybe guava paste, but now I'm afraid I'm straying into Cuban territory. It seems like most of the desserts I've come across are rices and soups. Does anyone have any advice to offer? The only requirements are that the item be Vietnamese (or related/riffed from Viet cuisine) and that it can be eaten by hand from a small plate or napkin. Gluten-free would be a great bonus.

I hope someone's got a suggestion, I'm stumped.

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  1. The french influence is very high for viet desserts.
    Cream puffs (banh choux)
    sponge cakes with fresh strawberry filling and whipped cream or mocha cake (banh ngot)

    What about che (sweet dessert puddings) ?

    or my mom loves silky tofu with a ginger sugar simple syrup (which is gluten free) but that is not a fancy dessert

    Any local Viet bakery can give you more ideas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: septocaine_queen

      Great ideas, thanks! I especially dig the banh choux. I like the idea of puddings, but the crowd will be mostly non-Asians and I'm hoping for something handheld.

      1. re: Agent Orange

        This is a nice little explanation of them and you could have different flavored pastry creams. Easy to tray pass

    2. I used to get these little rice flour and coconut milk patties cooked in an oiled cast iron pan very like what's used in Japan for takoyaki. This was at a farmer's market in San Diego, and I can't remember what they're called in Vietnamese. I also don't know what they'd taste like cold, but hot off the grill they were fantastic, and only slightly sweet. I'm not even sure if they had sugar in the batter, but they were definitely gluten free...

      If you could figure out some ingenious edible container for sticky rice with coconut milk and sweet mung beans and/or roasted peanuts, or maybe mango, one that could be popped in the mouth from a plate...or little tapioca dumplings filled with sweet bean or taro paste in ginger syrup, or maybe tapioca and bananas in an edible container...those would all be gluten free, but gosh, maybe hard to do at a passed tray cocktail party. You might try Rebecca Reilly's or Annalise Roberts' cookbooks for gluten free pastry you could tamp into mini muffin cups, and bake those off to fill with one or several of the above. The textural contrast could be really intriguing and the flavors delicious and bold, but you'd need to do some trials. Do the Vietnamese ever eat custard in tart shells, or is it always more like creme caramel?

      1 Reply
      1. re: amyzan

        Vietnamese do fruit tarts just like the french. Anything with sweet rice or tapioca would have to be serve warm to maintain texture. Too cold it would be hard and gummy. The other question is how authentic do you want to be?

      2. Sesame seed balls filled with sweet mung bean paste would be gluten free but I prefer hot tea instead of coffee, to cut the oilyness from being deep fried. Mochi with red bean paste is not deep fried.

        Choux a la creme would work with coffee very well, and madeleines.

        1. I remember eating loads of quite traditional french-style patisserie in vietnam - it was amazing how things were made to stay so beautiful despite the heat. You might be able to go along the lines of using vietnamese flavours such as lemongrass, ginger, coconut, in more familiar desserts. And don't forget amazing fruit! Dragonfruit, lychees/rambutans, mangosteen. For example tartlets filled with lemongrass mousse and topped with tropical fruits. Maybe a fruit skewer with a salty/spicy dip. You could serve a tapioca pudding flavoured with coconut, ginger, mango, in a shot glass perhaps, as long as the custard/sauce part wasn't too thick and sticky. Could you somehow wrap sweet rice pudding in rice wrappers, like a vietnamese summer roll, like amyzan suggests?