At the start of every Spring, our family makes a Japanese & Korean sweet bun called manju. Manju is a traditional sweet bread filled with sweetened red bean paste (anko), but you can also fill it with sweetened white bean paste (shiroan), chestnut paste (kurian) or even chocolates or preserves. Hiyoko means “chick" and it is known that hiyoko manju (baby chick sweet bun) derives from the Fukuoka Prefecture of Japan over 100 years ago. Fukuoka has been a creative hub in Japan for over a century and that is definitely displayed through their adorable treats and pastries.
These little chicks are simple to make. They form a firm shell but are soft and sweet inside. Enjoy them with tea or coffee and be sure to include them at your next Easter brunch.
3/4 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 can of sweetened red bean paste (common in most asian grocery stores)
Before making your dough, using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, measure out 12 individual tablespoons of paste and roll it into a ball. Place each ball on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow them to harden in your freezer for at least 30 minutes. This will allow you to neatly wrap dough around the firm paste, avoiding a mushy mess.
To make dough, in a large bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and egg yolk and mix with with a rubber spatula/spoon until yolk is completely incorporated. Then add all-purpose flour and baking powder and mix until it forms a soft and smooth dough. You can knead the dough for a couple of minutes to incorporate any flour and dough bits in your bowl. Once a round smooth dough is achieved, cover bowl with cloth and let dough rest for 30 minutes in your refrigerator.
Once rested, divide dough into 12 even pieces, roll each piece into a ball and press flat into a round large enough to cover your paste balls. Once all 12 pieces are wrapped they should be thawed enough to be shaped.
Gently roll each bun in your hands creating a cylindrical shape. Gently squeeze one end and form the neck of your chick. Determine where you would like the beak then using your thumb and index finger, pull the dough to form it’s beak, in a pinching motion. You can have your chicks face pointed straight or pointed up. You can shape it however you wish!
On a parchment lined cookie sheet, bake chicks at 300 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. You’ll notice the beaks have a darkened more defined color when ready. If you over bake, the dough will form cracks.
To decorate the chicks, use a steel chopstick or skewer and heat over a flame. Gently press the hot tip to create each eye then press the side of your steel chopstick/skewer twice on each side to create a two lined wing texture. You’ll want to reheat your steel chopstick/skewer each time you press it into your bun.
These are commonly served room temperature and can be made a day in advance. Enjoy!