These Desserts Have A Secret (& Healthy!) Ingredient

Beans are a fiber- and protein-rich superfood that has had to overcome some bad PR, thanks to an infamous kids' rhyme. (You know the one.) We all know that beans can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner, but did you know that you can have beans for dessert, too? East Asian cultures have been letting their beans-as-dessert freak flags fly for a really long time — and if you've ever eaten a red bean bun, you know exactly why so many people are obsessed.

I’m calling it now: The beans-for-dessert campaign is on an upswing. Not only is red bean paste delicious, it's simple to make at home. (If you’re not in the mood to take the DIY route, you can buy it canned. Just search "adzuki paste" online). For those of you ready to swoon, here are three red bean dessert recipes you have to try. Then you can say you've bean there, done that.
Photographed by Brian Finke.
Cream Puffs With Red Bean Custard
Makes 18 - 20 cream puffs
Cream Puff Ingredients
5 eggs
1 stick butter, cubed
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Red Bean Custard
Ingredients
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup red bean paste (homemade or store-bought)
Powdered sugar

For the cream puff:

1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Beat eggs in a bowl and set aside.
3. Heat butter, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm to touch. Bring mixture to boil. With heat on low, add flour quickly. Mix together with a wooden spoon until shiny, sticky paste is formed.
4. Remove saucepan from heat. Slowly beat in egg mixture in four increments until combined.
5. Spoon pastry dough into a pastry bag or a plastic Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. Pipe into a circular shape on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn heat down to 220 degrees and continue baking for another 5 until lightly browned. Cool.

For the custard:

1. Beat eggs in a bowl and set aside. Combine flour and sugar in a separate bowl.
2. Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until warm, stirring constantly. Whisk eggs into the warm milk, stirring quickly.
3. Once combined, add flour-sugar mixture. Add butter and vanilla. Continue stirring custard mixture on low heat with wooden spoon. Custard will begin to thicken and coat spoon.
4. Cool custard. When ready to use, mix in red bean paste until combined.
5. Slice cream puffs in half and fill center with red bean custard. Using a sieve, dust each cream puff with powdered sugar.
Photographed by Brian Finke.
Red Bean & Chocolate Shortbread
Makes 15-20 cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup red bean paste

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour and cocoa powder. Set aside. In a medium bowl, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly add in flour mixture. Mix well.
3. Using a spatula, mix red bean paste into cookie batter until thoroughly combined. Cut with a cookie cutter or spoon and flatten into a disk on the cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are crisp and brown. Remove and cool on rack for 15 minutes.
Photographed by Brian Finke.
Miso-Butterscotch Pudding With Red Bean Granita
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Pudding Ingredients
3 egg yolks
1 egg
7 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup water
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
6 tbsp miso

Granita Ingredients
1 cup red bean paste
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup sugar

Instructions For Pudding:
1. Whisk egg yolks, egg, and cornstarch in medium bowl until combined.
2. Bring to boil brown sugar, salt, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mixture will start to foam. Reduce heat to low and slowly add whipping cream and milk. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk half of the milk/cream mixture into the egg mixture. Pour mixture into the saucepan. Continue whisking over medium heat until pudding mixture is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and miso until fully combined.
4. Strain through a sieve. Ladle into serving bowls or tupperware. Chill for at least 3 hours.

Instructions For Granita:
1. Combine red bean paste, hot water, and sugar in a medium bowl.
2. When cooled, freeze in a metal loaf pan for about 30 minutes. Ice will form around the edges.
3. Stir icy edges to center every 30 minutes until mixture is completely frozen, about 2 hours.

To Assemble:
Ladle chilled pudding into serving cups. Using a fork, scrape about ¼ cup granita on top of pudding. Serve.

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