Azuki beans? Beans as a dessert? Beans as a sweet snack?
Yes, yes and yes.
While many Western countries base their pastries and sweets on milk products and flour, In Asia, all kinds of beans are used as a foundation for pastries, snacks and desserts. The texture of sweetened beans – cooked and made into paste – is similar to that of marzipan (almond paste) or thick peanut butter.
Azuki beans are a complete source of protein, with high amounts of fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and Vitamin A. So it is a great way to integrate nutrients into your child’s snacks and desserts. Athletes eat them as power protein snacks when in training.
They are versatile and can be cooked for savory as well as for sweet dishes – salads, rice dishes, side dishes, jellies, ice-pops, cakes and cookies.
Azuki beans can now be bought in cans, prepared and cooked. And if you don’t have the time to cook them (as it can be a time-consuming process), that is an option. But I prefer to make my own, especially since I don’t want too much sugar (and not white sugar) in the snacks/desserts I give my son.
I have to admit it is not quick – you have to soak them overnight, then boil them twice to get rid of the foam and dark liquid emanating from the beans, then finally cook them with the sugar until the soupy texture is obtained.
But it is certainly worth it.
You can top the soup with many things – it is delicious with ice cream, whipped cream, thick yogurts, as well as different nuts and seeds. I use the seeds and mochi here for a variety in texture – soft soup with bits of mushy beans, crunchy seeds and buckwheat with chewy mochi.
Azuki Bean Soup
200g azuki beans
2 cups brown sugar or ½ cup Agave Nectar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grilled buckwheat
1 tablespoon flaxseeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Mochi rice cake, grilled
1. Wash the beans well.
2. In a large bowl, add the beans and cover them completely with water. Let it stand to soak overnight.
3. Drain the beans.
4. In a large pot, combine beans with water, covering the beans completely with water, and bring to a boil.
5. Drain the beans and rinse them under running water.
6. For the second time, combine beans with water enough to cover the beans and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let it simmer until the beans become very tender, about 30-40 minutes, skimming the surface for foam that will develop and float to the top. The beans should become mushy and very soft to the touch, collapsing between fingers when pressed.
7. Add the salt, brown sugar or Agave nectar and stir, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add more sugar if desired.
8. Add ½ cup to 1 cup cold water if needed – the texture should be thick but liquid enough for it to be a soup and not a paste. Take off heat when done.
9. Pour the soup into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle with mochi cakes, sesame seeds, flaxseeds and buckwheat and serve.