The Grocery Ninja leaves no aisle unexplored, no jar unopened, no produce untasted. Creep along with her below, and read her past market missions here.

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Long before I was introduced to the snap, crackle, and pop of Rice Krispie treats, I was sinking my teeth into these Chinese soft flour cakes, or sachima. Made with flour, eggs, maltose, and lard (yes, lard—which, gram for gram, has “less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol” than butter, so I’ve never understood why people get so antsy about it), these are chewy, sticky-sweet, and have that fun, universally adored “mozzarella stretch effect," trailing gossamer strands of golden malt syrup between bites.

No, you do not want to eat these with braces or a newly installed crown.

20080225sachimapkt.jpgYou do, however, want to make a point of getting them fresh from an Asian bakery rather than in a plastic pack at the grocery. The fresh ones are soft, still warm (if you're lucky), and smell incredible. My faves are the ones harboring plumpish black raisins, though they also come studded with toasted sesame seeds (white and black), crunchy walnuts, and in the ubiquitous green tea flavor that's in everything from toothpaste (nasty!) to bread pudding (disconcerting) these days.

Fortunately for the pig-averse, you're far likelier to find the vegetable oil rather than the porcine version here in the States. And if you're wondering why you should bother seeking them out when you could easily whip up their cereal bar twin? Because, if you look closely, you'll see that sachima is also a close cousin to the funnel cake (or hundreds of mini donuts glued together with sticky syrup), and if a funnel cake that tastes like Rice Krispie treats doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.

Bonus: With low-glycemic index maltose used as the sweetener, it's really not as tooth-jarringly sweet as you'd expect. Add to that the very short ingredient list, and there's a case for it being practically a health food. Not that you shouldn't share ... I'm just saying.

About the author: Wan Yan Ling is an impoverished grad student and sourdough finger-crosser living in Rhode Island. She can usually be found in the kitchen procrastinating on "real work" or online tracking down obscure recipes. Ling thinks eating alone is no fun, and she still believes in hand-mixing.

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