Dessert is not served at Chinese meals in the same way as in some other countries. Generally there is no separate part of a meal that is reserved for eating dessert. However, China is home to many dessert foods, either as part of a meal or as a snack.
Known as tang in Chinese, this is a wide category that includes hard sweets of all kinds. Tanghulu, a type of fruit with a sugar-coated glaze often sold on the street falls into this category. Chinese cotton candy or yinsitang is said to have been invented 2000 years ago and is a stringy sugar solution that is folded many times into a thick bundle. Other more conventional Chinese-style candies can be bought in shops and supermarkets.
Rice cakes (gao) are sticky, sweet rice balls that are normally steamed. They can be soft and chewy or relatively form. Niangao is a popular type of rice cake, which can be served as a sticky treat or a pudding, flavored with red bean paste or rosewater.
Jellies are usually fruit flavored gelatine products. Soft and flexible, jellies sometimes have medicinal properties. Grass jelly (liangfen) is a jelly that is made by boiling the stalks of a mint-like plant in potassium carbonate and letting it cool to room temperature. It has a slightly bitter taste and is often mixed with soy milk.
Chinese dessert soups (tiantang) are hot and sweet and are most often found in Cantonese cuisine. Anything ranging from sweet tofu pudding, red bean soup to sweet almond soup counts as a dessert soup.
Regular ice cream can be bought throughout China but a special type of cold dessert is especially delicious. Baobing is a pile of shaved ice with sweet syrup. It’s often served with fresh fruits like strawberries and sometimes condensed milk. Originally from Taiwan, baobing has spread to many places in the mainland as well.