Monday, July 21, 2014

Something for your inner child: creamy peanut milk & peanut buns

If you have never tried peanut milk before, you are in for a treat. This tastes of a happy Chinese childhood crossed with melted peanut butter ice cream. We really have nothing like in it the States, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. 

It is also a dead simple recipe with no-fail, heavenly results.

Taipei in winter was always bone-crushingly cold, and I found that hot drinks were one of the best ways to deal with the weather. If they were sweet, so much the better, and if they were lusciously flavored, well, life didn’t get much better.

Bread filling of sugar & nuts
Summer in the city was just as bad: miserably hot and humid, and I would always be on the hunt for relief in the sweets shops that seemed to be on every corner. 

This drink was so popular that commercial ones were readily available. But the best ones were always house-made using some secret recipe or another.

This one is my favorite. I discovered that red dates added just the right fruity edge to keep this from being too saccharine or one-note. It is a very subtle touch, but makes all the difference in the world. If you have popsicle molds or an ice-cream maker, consider using this in either one. Your inner child will thank you.
Red dates & peanuts

Down below is a recipe for peanut buns that uses the dregs from the milk to make an utterly delicious bread. If you want to take this peanut tangent a bit further, consider rolling the dough around ground toasted peanuts and sugar. Simply amazing.

Peanut milk
Huāshēng nǎilù  花生奶露
All of China
Serves 4

8 red Chinese dates
8 ounces raw peanuts, preferably skinned
6 cups (or as needed) water, divided
2 tablespoons raw white rice
Pinch of sea salt
Rock sugar to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla (not traditional, but good)
Cook til thick

1. Start this recipe the night before. Place the dates in a small heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. When the dates are plump, slit each one open and discard the pit; reserve the soaking water. If the peanuts are unskinned, put them in a medium heatproof bowl and cover them too with boiling water. Wait 5 minutes, drain the peanuts in a colander, rinse with cool tap water, drain again, and dump them out onto a terrycloth towel. Rub the peanuts in the towel to remove the skins. Place the peanuts back in the work bowl, cover them with tap water, and let them soak overnight; the next day, drain and rinse the peanuts in a colander.

Ribbons of peanuts
2. Put the pitted dates, peanuts, rice, and 4 cups water (including the date soaking liquid) in a blender and pulverize the peanut mixture on high for a few minutes to make it as smooth as possible. Strain the peanut milk into a medium saucepan. Return the solids to the blender, add another 2 cups of water to the blender, and repeat this step to extract as much flavor from the peanuts as possible.

3. Add a piece of rock sugar about the size of a small egg (or to taste) and the pinch of salt to the saucepan, and bring the slowly liquid to a boil over medium heat before lowering the heat to so as to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook the peanut milk a few more minutes until thick, stirring the bottom often with a silicon or wooden spatula. Taste the peanut milk and add more sugar, if necessary. When the peanuts taste fully cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Either serve it immediately or cool it to room temperature and chill for a couple of hours.

Roll around filling

The dregs can be used in Fast Steamed Breads to make delicious peanut-flavored buns: In Step 2, add the leftover peanut mash to the yeast mixture along with 2 cups flour. Knead and add more flour as necessary. Form and steam the buns as directed.

For extra deliciousness, mix ground toasted peanuts with brown sugar, and then spread it over the peanut-flavored dough, forming the ribbon breads as directed in Taro Steamed Buns


  1. Simply a taste of heaven...I added almond extract to see if it would taste like almond milk.

    To make 杏仁奶露, would I be able to get a similar result by subtituting peanuts with almonds?

    I'm looking for a 米漿 recipe, would you happen to have one?

    Thank again for the recipe!

    Now to make the peanut buns...

  2. Mine came out whitish (I halved the recipe) and not creamy. The rock sugar I used is more oqaque and not as amber. When cooled, it's still not thick and creamy but tastes good, nonetheless, a bit like tofu pudding.

    Now I wished I made more.