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ice and snow and fond memories

Recipe: chinese shaved ice dessert (bao bing)

The Crazy Rain stopped earlier this week and now we seem to be back to our late summer pattern of cooler nights, warm days, and afternoon showers. This ping-pong cycling of temperatures has me donning pants, long-sleeve tops, and fuzzy socks in the mornings and shorts by noon. At night, we tuck Kaweah into her doggy bed with her doggy quilt to ward the cold away from her old bones. I thought we were well on our way to fall, but a trip to Boulder (the long way) dragged me through temperatures in the 80s. It’s never too chilly for me to enjoy a frozen dessert, but late summer is a great time for everyone to indulge in a nice cold treat.


i got this on amazon for $25 this summer (glass bowl not included)



When we had the rare snow day in southern Virginia, Kris and I would stay at home and watch cartoons, slide down the stairs riding in our sleeping bags, jump from untold heights pretending to be superheroes (Green Lantern – I was always Green Lantern), and go play in the snow. To warm up, Kris would always make tea. But we were kids and the tea was bitter, so we added (too much) sugar. The tea was also too hot, so Kris would scoop up some fresh clean snow in a mug and then pour the hot sweet tea over it. I started my love affair with tea slushies at an early age.

the ice disk

shaved ice



The paucity of snow days didn’t deter us from our slushie fix. My parents had an old school manual crank shaved ice machine. Now that I think of it, it was dangerous as hell – but that’s what the 70s were all about! We’d freeze the ice disk and then take turns grinding the ice into soft fluffy flakes, then douse it with artificially flavored and colored syrups. Again – the 70s.

water and brown sugar

dissolve over high heat

brown sugar syrup



Whenever Jeremy and I would visit Grandma in the Bay Area, we’d take her out to eat at the various Chinese restaurants or sushi bars around town. She loved going to Hot Pot City – a place that serves Chinese hot pot. I always looked forward to the dessert bar, which was basically Taiwanese shaved ice with all manner of toppings like boba (tapioca pearls), sweet red bean soup, sweet peanut soup, fresh fruits, etc. It’s called bao bing and I love it.

sweetened condensed milk

fresh fruit: peaches, lychee, strawberries, kiwi

diced or sliced



Apparently, there are Taiwanese shaved ice shops where you can get seriously insane with the toppings. I’ve seen them piled a foot high with toppings plastered to the sides. And you don’t have to settle for water ice, you can get shaved almond milk ice or milk ice or fruity flavored ice. Whoa!!!! When I first got my shaved ice machine, Jeremy didn’t seem terribly enthusiastic. He’s never been a huge fan of Chinese desserts, so I said I’d make a shaved ice bar and I would include toppings he’d like. And don’t worry – if you don’t have or want to get a shaved ice machine, just blender some ice until it is fluffy. It may not be as fine, but it will do the trick.

sugar and a cup of double strength coffee

pour them into a saucepan and make coffee syrup



My preferred combination of toppings has always been: chilled sweet red bean soup, chilled sweet peanut soup, boba, brown sugar syrup, and a light drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. But it’s really anything you want.

the bar: brown sugar syrup, sweetened condensed milk, coffee syrup, sweet red bean soup, sweet peanut soup, peaches, strawberries, green tea mochi, boba, lychee, kiwi (not pictured: various ice creams)



The first version is the fruity bowl. That’s not an official name, it’s just my name for it. Fill the bowl with shaved ice, top with fruit, a little sweetened condensed milk, some green tea mochi cut into little squares, and a scoop of passion fruit ice cream.

pour the sweetened condensed milk – you don’t need too much

add some mochi

fruity bowl!!



Next up is the Jeremy bowl, because it’s full of the goodies he likes. It skews toward a more western flavor profile. This starts with a bowl of shaved ice, then some boba and mochi (Jeremy prefers it without the boba), sweetened condensed milk, a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, and a dousing of coffee syrup. He loved it. LOVED IT.

top with boba and mochi

sweetened condensed milk

pouring chilled coffee syrup over the ice cream

digging into the jeremy bowl



You might be wondering if the sweetened condensed milk is necessary. I wouldn’t say it is necessary, but a small amount really makes a difference in the overall flavor, so go for it. Now for the final version, which is my default. I call it the Jen bowl: shaved ice, boba, green tea mochi (you can also do plain or whatever flavor you like), sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar syrup, sweet red bean soup, sweet peanut soup. People also do sweet green bean soup, grass jelly, ai-yu jelly, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and just plain crazy things.

all of my fixins

ladle some sweet red bean soup

then sweet peanut soup

brown sugar syrup

final drizzle of sweetened condensed milk



What I love about the soups is that their liquids all mingle and taste so good together on ice. The only drawback to this whole thing is making the soups because Jeremy doesn’t eat them. You don’t require much per serving – maybe a half cup at most. If you live near an Asian grocery store, you can probably purchase them in cans and save yourself some cooking time. The shaved ice bar is a great idea for a party if people want to customize their own bowl, or you can make a giant bowl that everyone shares! Good times.

the jen bowl



Chinese Shaved Ice (Bao Bing)
[print recipe]

shaved ice (or blendered ice)
chilled sweet red bean soup
chilled sweet peanut soup
brown sugar syrup
coffee syrup
green tea mochi (or plain, or whatever flavor you like)
boba (pearl tapioca), follow package instructions
fresh fruit, cut into large dice
ice cream (vanilla, fruit flavors, whatever you prefer)
sweetened condensed milk

Place shaved ice in a bowl. Pile your favorite combination of toppings on the ice. Serve.

sweet red bean soup
1/2 cup adzuki beans, dried
4 cups water (more as needed)
1/4 cup sugar (more or less to your preference)

Soak the beans in water overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. In a 3 quart saucepan, combine the adzuki beans with 4 cups of water and set to boil over high heat. When the water reaches a boil, let it continue for a minute. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan (take care that it doesn’t boil over – ugh, what a mess). Let the beans simmer for about 90 minutes or until they are soft enough that they are almost falling apart (I simmered mine for 2 hours, but I’m at elevation). When the adzuki beans are done, remove from heat and stir in the sugar. You can either leave the beans as they are, blender all of the soup, or only blender half of the soup/beans. Totally up to you.

sweet peanut soup
6 oz. peanuts, shelled
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsps coconut milk

Soak the peanuts in a large bowl of water overnight and make sure none are sticking out of the water. If there are skins on the peanuts, they will come off after soaking them. When done soaking, rinse the peanuts and drain all of the excess water off. Place the peanuts in a pressure cooker and add the 4 cups of water. Pressure cook the peanuts on high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30-40 additional minutes. Remove from heat and let the pressure cooker cool naturally (natural release). Remove the lid of the pressure cooker and heat the soup over medium heat. Add sugar to taste. The peanuts should be completely soft after all of that time in the pressure cooker. If they aren’t, let them boil until they reach a creamy fall-apart texture. Add coconut milk and let the soup return to a boil for a minute. Remove from heat.

brown sugar syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup water

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for a minute. Turn off the heat and let cool. Chill the syrup in the refrigerator.

coffee syrup
1 cup double strength coffee (brew with twice the grounds)
1/2 cup sugar

Combine the coffee and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Let it barely simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate.

green tea mochi
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1-2 cups potato starch or cornstarch

In a medium bowl, whisk the rice flour and matcha powder together. Stir in the water until smooth. Stir in the sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave the mochi batter on high power for 2 minutes (give it a stir after 1 minute to prevent burning). Stir the mochi and cook 30 seconds at a time until there is no more liquid in the mochi and it is sticky as all get out. Layer potato starch or cornstarch on a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Scrape the mochi onto the starch. Sprinkle more starch over the mochi and begin to press the mochi out to a square or circle of 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the mochi into 1/2-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1/2-inch square pieces.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

almond jello dessert matcha tea slushie with boba red bean (azuki) ice cream strawberry daifuku mochi

13 nibbles at “ice and snow and fond memories”

  1. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    My parents and their friends actually jointed purchased an authentic shaved ice machine from Taiwan once. This thing weighed like 50 pounds, and we had all the bao bing we wanted during the summertime. My favorite toppings are always the red bean, ai-yu and grass jelly. I love the idea of making this into a bao bing party!

  2. megan says:

    i have that same shaved ice machine! It’s good!
    do you know how they make cotton shaved ice? also known as mian hua bing? or xue hua bing? i would LOVE to learn to make that base on my own….it’s too expensive to fly to CA just for that :( I like your bowl better :)

  3. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I’ve never seen anything like this and now it will haunt my soul until I make it!

  4. Belinda @themoonblushbaker says:

    I really love you do ethic desserts, my dad craves this constantly and I love to make it for him. Thank you for such a detailed recipe. I have a hand held ice shaver, I think I need an upgrade!

  5. Mary says:

    Thanks Jen, a wonderful post… brings back memories of childhood days and warm weather.
    I remember Halo-Halo, the shaved-ice of the Philippines, with colorful mixtures of fruits, beans, and treats – sweet condense milk a must :-)

  6. selina says:

    Oh Jen, I was just telling Dean that I need to make some shaved ice with red beans. I have been missing my parents and home so much, so I comfort myself with the food. It always brings a smile to my face when I read your stories and recipes, never mind the drool that comes out uncontrollably. Sending you and your beautiful state much love. XO

  7. Dina says:

    i love this. it looks great. i’d love to make my own.

  8. Alice says:

    This post really made my day! I never knew that there were shaved ice machines for home use; I always thought there were only commercial shave ice machines. I love shaved ice, but there there aren’t any stores that offer it where I live (only snow cone places) :( But I really want my own machine now. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival by the way!

  9. Sherry says:

    Oh my god, I had no idea they made Shaved Ice Machines! I now know what I’m going to buy my sister for Christmas this year!

  10. Chris says:

    I bought my electric ice machine from Target a few years ago. It could take the ice moulds or just regualr cubes. In Malaysia we have a version of this called “ais campur” or “ais kacang”. Salted crispy peanuts is a very good topping. Canned coconut milk is a good option. Love the idea of a shaved ice bar.

  11. jenyu says:

    Eva – I’ve never tried it with the grass jelly, but it sounds good! I’ll have to do that next summer (or this winter – hee!)

    megan – I have no idea. I’m not even sure I’ve had it. I think the commercial machines can make it SUPER fine though. Mmmmm…

    Rocky Mountain Woman – ;)

    Belinda – so far, mine has held up well this past summer! They’re pretty awesome (and super fast compared to hand-crank).

    Mary – yes!!

    selina – ha ha, you are so cute! I hope you got your shaved ice fix. I hear Taiwan makes the best :)

    Dina – it’s easy (and anything goes!)

    Alice – the home use machines aren’t as fine as the commercial, but they work well enough and besides – the ice eventually melts ;) Thanks!

    Sherry – :)

    Chris – Not sure mine takes regular ice cubes (probably not), but how cool!

  12. Nadia says:

    AH, the jeremy bowl sounds like a much much much better coffee treat than affogato, which I’ve been having lately! And your brown sugar syrup look so lovely~ I just bought a snow machine from real hawaiian ice and I absolutely cannot wait to have a snow party with all your combinations!

  13. Susan says:

    I lived in Taiwan for a couple of years and loved this stuff. Thanks for showing me how to make it at home.

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