Taro Sponge Cake – Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving comes in all shapes and sizes: Small cozy gatherings, large family reunions, Friendsgivings and more. To me, Thanksgiving means a large potluck lunch with family and friends, complete with a huge turkey, mashed potatoes, and . . . sticky rice. And egg rolls. If we’re lucky, fried jumbo shrimp!

That’s right, I spent nearly every Thanksgiving of my childhood with my Chinese Church community in Wichita, Kansas. And let me tell you, the Chinese Church sure knows how to throw a potluck. The Thanksgiving potluck, though, pretty much rests in a league of its own.

I mean, it brings together the best of both worlds: Traditional Thanksgiving fare like a plump turkey and pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and savory Chinese favorites such as Chinese-style spareribs (yummm) and pig’s feet (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it).

Although my family has celebrated Thanksgiving in Houston for the last four years, this year, I am super excited that I have returned home to Wichita, Kansas for the holiday, and of course, to devour a massive potluck lunch (woohoo!!!!)!

And I get to see this baby…SO CUTE.

For today’s festivities, I decided to make a Chinese-style dessert: Sponge cake layers with a mixture of taro and whipping cream sandwiched in between, covered in mounds of fresh whipped cream. For those who don’t know (no shame here), taro is a root vegetable commonly used in Chinese cuisine – savory and sweet.

I don’t really know how to describe the taste; my sister says it tastes like “a really good potato, but more fragrant, like a different flavor.” I’m mostly excited by the fact that it is purple! If you’re interested, you can find one at any Asian grocery store. As for this recipe, my family actually made this cake for my mom’s birthday a couple of years back.

The sponge cake recipe comes from my dad’s super old Chinese cookbook (it’s actually falling apart!), and the taro filling is my sister’s personal creation. This cake . . . mmm. Yummy. I’m surprised it actually made it to my mom’s birthday dinner, considering how much I was eyeing it during the day. But, it was totally worth the wait . . . just like today’s potluck. Continue reading


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Thanksgiving Truffles

Approximately 12 years ago, I made pretty much the best dessert ever for my parent’s Thanksgiving dinner party: Mini turkeys. That’s right. Painstakingly hand-made mini turkeys consisting of a Hershey’s kiss and Oreo cookie body, candy corn feathers, and cut up Twizzlers for the wattle. Finishing those turkeys constituted basically the proudest moment of my life up to that point. Someone (besides my parents) even complimented me on them!

But then . . . no one ate them. Correction: I ate two. One brave adult ate one. And two of my friends, also around the age of 10, each ate one. Sad life. I’ve tried to block out that particular dessert experience from my mind for many years. Now, though, as I reflect back upon my first dessert rejection, I guess I (sorta kinda) get it.

I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily want to eat a mashup of store-bought candy masquerading as a dessert that had been touched and molded into shape with the possibly dirty (but I always washed my hands with soap – even under my fingernails!!!) fingers of a ten-year-old. I’m going on record now, though, to say that if I come across those lovely mini turkeys in my Thanksgiving festivities this year, I promise to eat one. Scratch that. I’m getting five of those suckers. Props to little kids who believe in their dessert craft!

In an effort to avoid the pain of rejection, though, I decided to create a more adult palate friendly dessert this year. And it’s still shaped like a turkey. Hah! Though it can be traditionally truffle shaped for those who so desire. As I considered different food combinations in my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about pumpkin and cream cheese. So, I didn’t. Instead, I used them, along with some powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and pumpkin pie spice as the filling for my truffles. Ermahgawd. I would most definitely eat this filling by itself. In a bowl – no melted chocolate covering or decoration needed. Continue reading