Seven Traditional Desserts in Kunming

In this city that is full of stories and traditions, Kunming desserts, without doubt, have their own due to those special ingredients and traditional cooking methods. In the following passages, we will introduce some of the very traditional local desserts that have been pleasing local people’s stomach for decades.


Rose Flower Cake

Kunming boasts the name of the “city of flower”, thanks to its mild weather and blooming flowers in all seasons. Kunming people use flowers to decorate their homes and offices, and they also put fresh flowers into their plates. One of the most well-known pastries in Kunming should be the Rose Flower Cake.


Historically speaking, the Rose Flower Cake was originated some 300 years ago during the Qing Dynasty, when the Emperor Qianlong loved this sweet, fresh rose aromatic cake so much that he made it one of the imperial desserts.

Today, people apply the main ingredient as fresh as they could found, which include fresh rose petals, wheat flour, sucrose and honey, etc. to make this tasty, crispy and sweet cake.


Jasmine Flower Cake


The huge climate differences in Yunnan have contributed to its varied wild jasmine flowers. When it comes to Jasmine Flower Cake, the cooking methods are similar to that of Rose Flower Cake but the flavor is quite different. People say that it is less sweet comparing with the Rose Flower Cake but it is hard to forget the fresh smell of jasmine lingers in your mouth.


Yunnan Ham Moon Cake

(photo credit: Jiqingxiang1907)

Moon cake plays a major role on one’s dinner table on Mid-autumn Festival in China. In Yunnan, locals have the Yunnan ham stuffed moon cakes during the festival and it is the only province you could find the authentic Yunnan ham moon cake. The secret ingredient is of course, the ham from Xuanwei City in Northeastern part of Yunnan. The outer layer of the moon cake is made from flour, lard and sugar while the Xuanwei ham and sugar as its fillings. After several hours of baking, a proper, fulfilling Yunnan ham moon cake could be served on the special day. It is not too sweet nor too greasy, but it is the flavor that have been catering for local people for a really long time.


It is suggested to have a cup of green tea or Pu’er tea to better digest the Yunnan ham moon cake.


Sticky Rice Ball


Sticky rice ball is a traditional and popular dessert in Kunming. Some people call it sweet rice dumpling, which indicates its shape and texture. But in Kunming, the sticky rice ball with some cooked soy flour as its coating is even more popular. The filling, too, has its own diversification according to each family’s preference. Some would use the red bean and sugar as its filling while some would stuff minced nuts, sugar and other ingredients.

This local dessert could be found in many local restaurants in Kunming, such as Jianxinyuan (建新园), Qiaoxiangyuan (桥香园), Yitianyuan (伊天园), Yikeyin (一颗印),etc.


Eight Treasure Rice Pudding


Traditionally speaking, Eight Treasure Rice Pudding is a dessert on Chinese New Year, but in Kunming, this dish could also be served on Spring Festival, Mid-autumn Festival and other important occasions such as wedding banquet, family reunion and so on. The name comes from its eight key ingredients including raisins, dates, dried fruits, nuts, sticky rice, candied winter melon, etc.

Today, one could purchase the half-done Eight Treasure Rice Pudding in major supermarkets and local markets. All you have to do is to put the rice pudding in a steamer and to enjoy the sweet dish.


Muguashui (Jelly-like porridge) with Rose Jam


The Yunnan local snack Muguashui is a jelly-like porridge, being one of the most popular summer snacks among local people. It is made from the seeds of the plant Pevuvian Apple Herb, which gives it a hint of fresh taste.

One could find this refreshing sweet snack in Jianxinyuan (建新园), Qiaoxiangyuan (桥香园) and some local restaurants.


Tiao Gao Ou Fen (Lotus root starch with rice cake and brown sugar syrup)


Special made rice cake with smooth, warm lotus root starch and to put some dried fruits, sesame and locally produced rose jam on top made this snack another sought-after dish in Kunming.

Wenmiao Laojie (文庙老街), Yunping Restaurant (云平风味园) have some authentic Tiao Gao Ou Fen.


(reference/photo credit: Kunmingfaner)