Bean-genuity: Sweet Red Bean Cookies

When Tomato first gave me her list of “to make” Japanese foods, she ended with “red bean ice cream, of course.”

Of course. I really wanted to make it. I really, really did. After all I love ice cream SO much.  I had the ice cream maker canister in the freezer and everything, but in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It’s just too cold out. I can get behind ice cream at almost any time. Even if it’s 20 degrees out (like when Mama Buddha and I went to Ghiradelli over Christmas for hot fudge sundaes). But it was TWO degrees today. Two. And that, my friend, is my ice cream limit.

However, I couldn’t shake the red bean theme from my head, and since I had lots of time on my hands thanks to another adult snow day, I came up with a Sweet Red Bean cookie.  Most red bean cookie concoctions are ravioli-like; a sweet, chewy rice flour dumpling filled with the red bean filling, but I wanted to try something a bit different so I hodgepodged a few cookie recipes to come up with this one. Plus, I got a shiny new mixer for Christmas that I had yet to use.


Thanks, Mom!

The result?


Good!  I surprised myself with this one. While taste-testing the batter (come on, who does NOT eat cookie dough? Those who possess more self-control than I…), I feared the red bean flavor would be lost, and the result would taste like nothing more than a sugar cookie. However, once they were out of the oven and cooled, I was pleased to taste a subtle yet distinct sweet red bean flavor, complemented by the sesame seed and/or sugar coating.


Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, these cookies were a success.

So, maybe not Japanese in reality, they are Japanese in spirit, and that’s what counts.




Sweet Red Bean Cookies
Yields 20
Sweet, soft red bean cookies
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  1. 5 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. ½ cup granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup brown sugar
  4. ½ cup sweetened red bean paste (available at Asian or other ethnic grocers)
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp powdered ginger (optional)
  8. pinch ground cloves (optional)
  9. ½ tsp salt
  10. 1 tsp vanilla
  11. 1 ½ cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour (your choice)
  12. ½ cup granulated sugar or 1 cup toasted sesame seeds for rolling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and airy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add the red bean paste and salt. Incorporate well.
  4. Add in the baking soda and flour and mix until just combined.
  5. Roll about 1 TB of the batter into a ball. Roll the ball in either sugar or sesame seeds, as desired.
  6. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 1- ½ inches apart and press flat with a fork.
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly golden. Let sit on the baking sheet about 3 minutes before moving to a rack to finish cooling.
  1. Reader's notes: Let sit in the freezer for one week before eating- they're better this way! Also, ginger and cloves heighten the taste!
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World

Parting thoughts: Grandma Buddha got me a brand, spanking new camera for Christmas, currently on its way from those swinging folks in the Amazon jungle. I hope this makes a noticeable difference with prettier pictures. While you may not notice initially, hopefully you will after February 9th, when I take the class to learn how to use it.

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