Success! Last weekend we threw a red egg and ginger party for Isabelle! This is a Chinese tradition where the new baby is officially introduced to relatives and family friends, and the baby’s name is revealed. Historically the red egg and ginger party was held when the baby was one month old, as high infant mortality rates meant that a baby surviving to one month of age was indeed a cause for celebration. Also, the mother was also typically kept at home to recover during the same month, so this party was also meant to mark her “return” to society.
Well, those mothers back then must have been pretty tough because I was certainly not up to having any parties at one month! These days, many families are more relaxed about when the red egg and ginger party is held: sometimes it’s at baby’s 100-day mark, sometimes it’s just within baby’s first year.
We decided to have the party right around Isabelle’s 100 days: I felt like I’d settled enough into the groove of parenting to take on planning a party, spring weather had arrived, and I would be returning to work in May, so the timing seemed perfect. Like most Chinese celebrations, red egg and ginger parties involve lots of food. These days they are usually lavish banquets held in Chinese restaurants. I decided I wanted something different, mainly since most of my relatives are in Hong Kong and if I didn’t have to worry about feeding hordes of family, I preferred to be a little more creative with our smaller, more intimate party. Since you’re on my site, you must know the logical conclusion was a dessert party!
The party was held outside in the patio of our complex, to take advantage of the delightful spring weather and to accommodate all the little kids. You know you must have passed some milestone in your life when planning get-togethers involves more figuring out of children’s activities than choosing the alcohol.
Presents and red envelopes for Isabelle! I love whoever wrote her name with the sidewalk chalk we handed out to the kiddies.
Traditionally red envelopes, or “lucky money”, were given as gifts to the new baby, and often pinned to their clothes. Although we got Isabelle a pretty red dress to wear, we forewent the money-pinning: the day was hot enough without her wearing an extra layer of money!
Here’s Isabelle in her party dress! I can’t believe how much she’s grown since she was born!
My idea for our version of the red egg and ginger party was to have desserts with Asian flavors, to reflect the merging of Western and Chinese sensibilities. Here, one of my favorite items, chocolate cupcakes with passion fruit curd filling. Some of the cupcakes have piped chocolate frosting on top, while others have fondant toppers made by my wonderfully talented friend Sarah of Sarah Lindsay Cakes. There are dragons, since Isabelle was born in the Year of the Dragon (she made it just in time), and little nests with red eggs and ginger. We did have a bowl of real eggs dyed red as per tradition, but I like the little fondant ones better – so cute! I suppose, in retrospect, having a bunch of desserts also meant that practically every dish had eggs in it, so I think we fulfilled the “egg” part of the party!
Although I wanted to make as many of the desserts as I could, I’m not crazy. Pre-baby, I’d be happy to work myself into the ground for a project, but now with a baby who needs me, I have to be realistic about what I can accomplish. Some of the desserts at the party were from some of my favorite local vendors, like these vanilla and chocolate cream puffs from Pacific Puffs. I guess these were the one item that wasn’t Asian in any way!
A pic of me with fellow food blogger Crystal and our babies. Now we have another thing to bond over besides food!
It was a little hard to take pictures of the whole dessert setup at the party because we were so busy and because of the uber-bright daylight, so here are some indoor set-up shots of the desserts we had. As a side note, I really liked the yellow and red paper pom poms we had to decoration – if you look in the first party photo, you can see where they’re tied to the trees and chairs.
A tower of chocolate cupcakes and cream puffs.
A shot from when I was filling the cupcakes so you can see the passion fruit curd filling. Passion fruit is one of my favorite flavors and this curd has a minimum of butter to really let the sweet-tartness shine through.
Lychee raspberry macarons from my favorite macaron place in the Bay Area, Chantal Guillon. The lychee raspberry was originally a special limited flavor for Valentine’s Day, but it proved so popular they extended the run – lucky for me! Chantal Guillon regularly rotates in other seasonal flavors.
Raspberry ginger lemonade – It’s called a red egg and ginger party because you’re also supposed to serve dishes with lots of ginger in them. Ginger is said to have warming, revitalizing properties, which help the new mother recover (my mom did put a lot of ginger in my food while she was here). I worked both red (ok, pink) and ginger into this drink.
The strawberry-white chocolate pocky I was testing in my last post made it onto the menu! Next to them are some red egg-shaped almond sugar cookies.
No pictures because they weren’t that exciting but we did also have fortune cookies and ginger candy from Hong Kong – my preferred way of eating ginger!
Lastly, the red egg and ginger party is also when you tell everyone the baby’s name. We of course gave Isabelle her English name when she was born, but we let my parents come up with her Chinese name. We decided that in English she would have Mike’s surname, but in Chinese she would have mine. I actually think it’s kind of cool that she has two completely different names: it’s like having an automatic alias!
In the excitement of the party we forgot to tell our guests her Chinese name, but we did have it on display with the presents. My mom, who practices Chinese calligraphy, wrote the name in two different styles for us:
The first character is my last name, Chu. The second character, “ai”, means love, so in a way her name in Chinese means “beloved”. The last character, “ling”, means bell, which my parents chose to go with Isabelle. I’m so grateful to my parents for giving Isabelle such a lovely name and I’m looking forward to teaching her about both sides of her heritage.
Thanks to all our friends who came! Happy 100 days Isabelle!
- If you are lucky enough to find fresh passionfruit, you can always use the pulp in this recipe. Otherwise, I use passionfruit puree - I like The Perfect Pantry brand. You can adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.
- 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 oz (57 g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup (43 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (94 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115 g) sour cream
- 1/2 cup passionfruit puree
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with baking-cup liners.
- Combine butter and chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate start to melt. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
- Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
- Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine. Add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
- Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
- Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool.
For the curd:
- Create a water bath by placing a saucepan of water over heat to simmer and placing a metal bowl unto the pan so its bottom does not touch the water. Whisk together passionfruit puree, sugar, eggs, and egg yolks in the bowl.
- Cook the mixture over the simmering water, whisking constantly, until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Keep whisking while the mixture is heating up to prevent the eggs from cooking.
- Take mixture off heat. Add in butter a couple pieces at a time and stir to thoroughly melt and combine.
- Pour curd into a container and place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to use.