Thursday, February 7, 2008

Red Bean Desserts

Red bean may not replace chocolate, but you can get interesting, tasty desserts by checking out some local Korean-run bakeries.

Red bean paste mixes real beans and sugar into a mixture a little thicker than the filling of a cream donut. (Donut! Wait and hear about that!). It's not as sweet as a "Boston cream" or a jelly filling, but it has my favorite type of unusual, new flavor without being strange or really that exotic. These are great fun to enjoy on your own or to bring a selection to someone's house for dessert.

La Boulangarie Bakery off Rte 40 in Ellicott City sells fresh-made pastries filled with red bean for under $2 each. There is a baked version that tastes like a French dessert. There is also a steamed version that I actually preferred. A light cake in the shape of a bun with a walnut-sized dollop of red bean paste inside. They're fun to cut into pieces and serve to a bunch of people. (They're also individually wrapped in the picture.) La Boulangarie offers incredibly sweet-looking cakes and an assortment of other pastries, including a banana-shaped, banana-flavored cake that would be fun to serve kids.

But the four-mile drive east on Rte 40 is worth your time. Inside the H Mart supermarket is an outpost of the Momo Bakery. You'll see it right at the entrance with a similar display of formal cakes and other pastries. Momo has a separate cashier who you pay for the baked goods. First, try the red bean donut. "Fried but light" sounds like an oxymoron, but this is a delicious donut filled with the slightly sweet red bean. Eat it right out of the bag in your car. It is that good.

Then, go back inside to see if you feel a little more adventurous. Koreans make a rice-based sweet that they fill with various things, including red bean paste. They look like little dumplings. The consistency is like marzipan, but with a clean, lightly-sweet taste that makes me grab them whenever I see them at Momo. Mrs. HowChow loves them. Look at the packaged green and white sweets in the picture. That tray costs $3-4. The red bean sweets were the hit of my nephew's first birthday party.

Don't refrigerate the Korean sweets. They last 2-3 days on the counter, but they get hard if you put them in the fridge. As a practical matter, you can find the red bean sweets by either asking the Momo cashier or reading the ingredients on the label.

Click here for a list of other organic and ethnic markets in Howard County. Or here for all the posts about Korean restaurants and grocery stores. If you're looking for food while you shop, the Lotte is just down the shopping center from Shin Chon Garden, and the H Mart shopping center has a Korean place Beseto that has good food, but no table service.

La Boulangarie Bakery
8815 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21043

NEAR: Rte 40 and Rte 29 Intersection. The bakery is across the parking lot from the Lotte supermarket in the Lotte shopping center on Rte 40.

Momo Bakery
inside the H Mart supermarket (right in front)
800 N Rolling Rd
Catonsville, MD 21228
443-612-9020 (H Mart)

This is a short profile of the H Mart, and this is a longer post about why it is my favorite place for food. If you go there, definitely check out the popped rice bowls.

NEAR: Off Rte 40 just outside I-695. If you are driving on Rte 40 from Ellicott City, you'll see a Starbucks and a FedEx at the end of the H Mart shopping center. Turn right immediately after the Starbucks. If you miss it, just turn right at the next light.

La Boulangarie Bakery on Urbanspoon

Red Bean on Foodista

No comments: