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Red Bean Paste + Friday Fave Five

October 28, 2016

October, Halloween 'round the corner, leaves falling... there's a definite mood in the air. So it only makes sense, as everyone's putting out their orange string lights and decorative gourds, to make.... red bean paste?Maybe not your typical a hankering, but that deep earthy-sweet flavor and maroon shade feel just right for these cooler, shorter days. Red bean (known as azuki bean to some), if you've never tried it, is a common ingredient across Asia and often blitzed into a sweet, smooth paste for filling a number of enticing pastries. It's something I've grown up eating, a familiar flavor memory from puffy dumplings and moon cakes, and never once did I think it weird to have a bean play a major role in dessert.

This recipe for homemade red bean paste, a simpler (and hopefully more nutritionally viable) take on the stuff you might find in cans at the Asian grocery, comes to you via the good folks at The Woks of Life. I made this bread the other day (such a pretty swirl! so soft and scrumptious!) as well as the paste to go inside it, and I dare say this filling will find its way into other concoctions in my kitchen... Red bean three ways

One batch of red bean paste, endless possibilities.

Red Bean Paste
(adapted from The Woks of Life)

8 oz. dried red beans, rinsed
1/2 - 3/4 cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
5 tbsp butter (for a looser consistency and richer taste, use more butter)
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Soak the red beans for 8 hours or overnight. To cook, pour the water and beans into a medium-sized pot, ensuring there's enough water to cover the beans by about a quarter inch. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover (cracking the lid just a little). Cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are very soft. If you still have a lot of excess water, uncover the pot to let more liquid evaporate.

Once beans are cooked and the mixture is very thick, you're ready to blend. If you prefer your paste chunky, you can simply mash with a fork or potato masher. If you like a smoother texture, use a food processor or immersion blender to blitz the mixture to your desired consistency.

Cut butter into 1 tbsp pieces and add to the paste along with the sugar and salt. Blend until butter is fully melted and all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Let cool before adding to your cookies, toast, dumplings, or other vehicles for red bean paste delivery.

But wait! There's more!

For this week's postscript: the S&S Friday Fave Five!

1. #cookiesandkindess is a movement started by Dorie Greenspan to share your baking endeavors with your friends, family, all your people. Which is, I mean, kind of the core tenet of Sugar & Stamp, so... all aboard, folks, let's spread some cookie love <3 <3 <3
2. I made a riff on these molasses cookies, like, a week ago. Even as I type, I'm nibbling on the last remains of that batch, and the fact that it's still so delicious is frankly a little frightening. Don't worry, I'll share soon ;)
3. A concept I’m becoming increasingly interested in as the days grow colder and shorter: hygge.
4. For Eater Sweets Week, I got to show some illustrated love for some really delicious Asian desserts around Seattle. Among them: Hood Famous Bakeshop's Ube Cheesecake. I'm doubly excited because a) it's awesome to see Filipino flavors popping up around Seattle and b) you can't not be excited about this cheesecake.
5. Haven't figured out what to dress up as for Halloween? Why not your dog's favorite toy...?

That's it! Bye!