There’s nothing better than settling into a local favourite on a sunny day. Fortunately, you will find plenty of both in Singapore. If you have just moved to the country, you will be pleasantly surprised that the local desserts are not only cheap but also delectable. The only downside is the risk of addiction to these simple yet satisfying treats. From the refreshing ice kachang that leaves with a brain freeze every now and then to a hot bowl of beancurd, here are a number of local desserts you must try when you are in Singapore.
Must-Try Local Desserts
Made with a combination of pandan leaves, cream and coconut milk, cendol is easily one of the most popular local desserts in Singapore. Perfect for a midday snack on a sunny day, the main component of cendol is its freshly shaved ice which glues all the other ingredients together perfectly. Although cendol was originally from Indonesia and Malaysia, the Singaporean version differs to some extent. For instance, the Singaporean cendol will be served with green jelly, sweetened red beans and sometimes sweet corn with palm sugar and coconut milk. Whereas the Indonesian version of this dish is comprised of palm sugar, green jelly and coconut milk. However, do note that there are other variations of the dessert in Indonesia based on the place of origin.
Tau Huay (Bean Curd)
Served either hot or cold, bean curd is a fairly simple dessert that is also referred to as tofu pudding or soybean pudding. As its name suggests, the humble treat is comprised of silky tofu that is served with a clear sweet syrup. What makes this dessert so special is that it can be eaten either hot or cold depending on your mood—or the weather. Moreover, there are also a number of flavours that you can indulge in. Some stalls serve a variety of flavours including mango, strawberry, durian, chocolate, etc. Bean curds are best eaten with fried dough fritters called You Tiao. This gives the overall dish a delicate balance between sweet and salty.
Also known as Ice Kachang or Ais kacang, this thirst-quenching dessert contains similar characteristics to cendol. Originating from Malaysia, ice kacang is a combination of freshly shaved ice, sweet syrup, red beans and grass jelly or agar agar. But that’s not all, the true highlight of this dessert is the toppings that crown and serve as the finishing touch to the entire dessert. The most popular toppings include peanuts (known as peanut kachang), evaporated or condensed milk, sweet corn, gula melaka syrup and neon coloured syrups that come in a variety of colours. Needless to say, this dessert is nothing short of eye-catching! Do note that on a hot day, your dessert might be reduced to a puddle if you don’t eat it fast enough.
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Although ice cream isn’t a Singaporean dessert, it’s the way its served that truly gives it a local twist. The ice cream peddlers of Singapore, which mainly consists of uncles on motorbikes with a sidecar freezer, can be found in some neighbourhoods and even along the entirety of Orchard road. Their sidecar freezers contain a variety of flavours. You can either get your ice cream in a cone or you can experience eat like a local and have your block of ice cream between a folded slice of bread or thin wafer slices. If you have trouble locating these uncles in Orchard road, just keep an eye out the distinctive Wall’s umbrellas that stand prominently amidst the bustling crowd.
The fragrant and modest-looking tutu kueh is a small, doughy steamed rice flour snack that is often sold at streetside stalls in Chinatown and night markets. Its distinctive shape is caused by filling a mould with finely pounded rice flour, of which a portion is removed to make space for the filling. Afterwards, another layer of rice flour is added to seal the filling before the cake is tipped over on a cloth and cooked on a steamer. The treat is filled with either ground peanut or brown palm sugar mixed with shredded coconut. Before it is sold to consumers, it is placed on a piece of pandan leaf specifically cut to fit the snack.
Tasters beware, this treat might just leave you addicted! The round and green boiled rice cakes are coated with grated coconut and filled with liquid gula melaka (palm sugar). To be more specific, the dough is made from glutinous rice flour, sometimes it’s mixed with tapioca. Interestingly enough, the small pieces of palm sugar are hard when they are first inserted into rice dough and rolled into balls. They are then boiled, which causes the palm sugar inside the rice cake to melt. This essentially causes an explosion of flavours when you first bite into it. Mostly found in nasi padang restaurants, Peranakan eateries, Malay stalls in hawker centres, ondeh ondeh can also be found in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.