Split yellow pea cake (wan dou huang) – a simple Chinese dessert recipe

Pulses such as split peas and lentils are a great source of iron, and if you get bored of cooking with them for savoury dishes, then you can try out this traditional Beijing snack, made with mostly just yellow split peas (and some sugar). It’s very much a spring snack, and is eaten before the third of the third lunar month, which is 9th April this year.

The cooking time is quite long, but mostly it just needs to be left to simmer on the stove – there is very little prep needed. This recipe makes a large batch that’d last a few weeks. You can downscale and make a smaller batch to start off with.


1kg of split yellow peas
6 dried jujubes 

300g of sugar

You’ll also need water and a tiny dash of oil.

Step 1: soak the split yellow peas overnight.


Step 2: add water to the pan so that the yellow split peas are well covered (roughly 2:1 ratio to the peas), then boil the split yellow peas with the jujubes for 3+ hours on low heat, until mushy.

Step 3: remove the jujubes from the pan, remove the husks and seeds and stir the “meat” back in. Boil for a further 30 minutes.


Step 4: sieve away any large pieces of yellow split pea, or alternatively, place everything into a blender until it’s all smooth. The place a touch of oil into a pan and heat the yellow split pea gel/mash.


Step 5: add the sugar. Keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom, until all the sugar as blended into the yellow split pea.


Step 6: roll into a flat piece, allow to cool, cut and serve! (Once cut, they should be kept cold in the fridge.)

They’re usually cut with a knife into diamond shapes, but you can also use a small cookie cutter to cut them into various other shapes. What shapes would you like to try?


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