When I was young, I spent most of my Saturdays at my grandmother’s house, secretly picking flowers off her houseplants, overfeeding her goldfish, and eating up all her snacks that she would get from Chinatown. I say “all her snacks,” but my grandma really only had two snack foods in her cupboard – one was the family pack lemon puff biscuits, which always tasted dry and slightly artificial, and the other was the Garden coconut wafers, which I knew had been laying around for a while. See, to save money, my grandma would buy the wafers in these big metal tins, which would take forever to finish. And for that reason, all the Garden wafers I’ve ever eaten at my grandmother’s house always tasted a bit stale. Still, I opted for the wafers over the biscuits.
I had a very specific method of eating the wafers. Because I was only allowed to have a few per visit, I would split the wafers into individual layers, so that it would seem like I had a whole lot more to eat than there actually was. As a kid, I would do this to all of my snacks, just to prolong my time with them. Sounds kind of silly, right?
But it’s funny how when I share these stories with my Asian friends, nearly all of them reciprocate with their own stories. My friend Timmy from Taiwan would freeze his lychee before eating them like little frozen popsicle balls. And my college classmate Grace, who grew up in Brooklyn, would take Haitai French Pie cookies, eat everything except the middle, and save the center apple pie filling for her last bites. “Always the last two bites because that was how the center fit perfectly into my mouth,” she says.
Of course, my love of Asian snacks didn’t end as a child. As a college student, the Japanese fruit gummy candies – you know, the ones that come in apple, kiwi, strawberry and lychee – were my ultimate companions for late night studying. A small confession is that I would bring them into the library as well. (An even bigger confession is I’ve prob- ably brought a snack into every library I’ve ever been in – and the culprit snack was usually Asian. I know, I know, but it’s hard to walk away once you’re in the studying groove.) Anyway, any “library snacker” can tell you that the hard part is not sneaking the snacks into the library, but eating them in silence. That takes skill, especially when you’re eating those crunchy rice crackers.
Now as an adult, I still find myself watching TV and curled up next to a bag of prawn crackers or snacking on the latest red bean, green tea and sesame Pocky. To this day, Asian snacks remain a comfort food for me. So here’s my own attempt at recreating that magic with a homemade Choco Pie recipe.
– 1 1/4 cup cake flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– splash of vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff or marshmallow creme
Chocolate Ganache Coating:
– 8 oz chocolate chips
– 1 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make batter by mixing dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Fill whoopie pie pan or muffin tin with 1/4 inch of batter.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cakes turn golden brown on the underside. Let cool. (Tops may still look pale.)
5. Meanwhile, prepare ganache by bringing a cup of heavy cream to a boil.
6. Immediately remove from heat and pour on top of chocolate.
7. Whisk till smooth. Set aside.
1. Cut tops off cake so that the surface is flat.
2. Spread about a teaspoon of marshmallow filling on the cake. Top it off with another cake, making sure the golden brown sides are exposed.
3. Place the assembled cakes on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the ganache. Pour a small amount of ganache on top of each of the assembled cakes until the tops and sides are covered. A spatula may be needed.
4. Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
— Story and photos by Christina Ng
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here.