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Snowskin Mooncakes Part 2: Making the Dough and the Cakes (Cach Lam Vo Banh)

Beautiful and delicate, these Snowskin Mooncakes are so much fun to make!This is Part 2 of the recipe for making Snowskin Mooncakes, must-have cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Last week I posted Snowskin Mooncakes Part 1 which shares the recipes for the Simple Syrup and Taro Root filling.  These delicious mooncakes come in a wide variety of fillings from sweet to savory and traditional to trendy.  The taro root is one of my favorite fillings but there are plenty of other scrumptious options.  So, if there’s another filling you enjoy, by all means, substitute that filling for the taro root.  You can also refer to my earlier Mooncake posts for a Lotus Seed filling and a Red Bean filling.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Please note you must use roasted or cooked glutinous rice flour.  There are no substitutes for this unique flour.  As this flour is already cooked, no additional cooking is required.  Using glutinous rice flour will not work in this recipe and you will have raw dough that should not be eaten.  The roasted/cooked glutinous rice brand is typically sold right next to the rice flours and glutinous rice flours.  If may be labeled “Cooked Glutinous Rice Flour”, “Roast(ed) Glutinous Rice Flour” or “Glutinous-Fried Rice Flour”.  It has a distinct roasted rice aroma and taste, unlike raw rice flour.  Some of the brands that are available are in the US are:  Coconut Tree, (brand I use in this recipe) and Fortuna.  I use to be able to buy the Cock brand but haven’t been able to find it the markets in recent years.  This brand was my favorite.  (Update:  A special thanks to Amy (who in the comments below) shared with me the store carrying the Cock brand:  AA Marketplace, 13220 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843.  It’s a really awesome Asian grocery store with tons of products.)

This dough is quite sticky.  When working with it, make sure there’s a thin layer of the cooked glutinous rice flour between the dough and your hands.  Work the dough gently with your hands and avoid squashing your fingers in the dough or they will be incredibly sticky.

The texture and consistency of the dough varies with the brand of cooked glutinous rice flour used.  You’ll need to experiment  to achieve the same dough consistency I showed in the video.  You may have to add more cooked glutinous rice flour or even cut back so sift in the flour gradually.

As you need to use a good amount of the flour in the recipe and then to knead the dough, I recommend sifting an entire package of the flour.  That way it’s ready to go and you don’t have to sift each time the flour is needed.

I do not add oil to my dough.  If the dough is extremely sticky and adding flour leaves it really dry, add 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil and knead it for 1-2 minutes.

If you enjoy the pomelo essence that’s commonly added to these cakes, add about 1/2 teaspoon while kneading the dough.  Go easy on pomelo essence as the fragrance can be overpowering and too much can make the cake bitter.

The below recipe yields approximately 2 pounds or 907 grams of dough.  You can make 9-200 gram cakes having 100 grams of dough and 100 grams of filling per cake.

When all the cakes are made, place them in a cake dish/pan, cover and let rest overnight.  Enjoy these delicious cakes the next day and you’ll be pleased to find the cakes are softer and sweeter after they’ve had time to rest.  The mooncakes can be left unrefrigerated for about 2 days.  After that time, cover and refrigerate.  Allow to warm to room temperature before serving or warm in the microwave on Low power.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups Simple Syrup
1 3/4 cups roasted/cooked glutinous rice flour + 2/3 cup for rolling, dusting the molds
Taro Root filling (or your choice of filling)

Directions

Pour the simple syrup into a large bowl.  Sift 1/2 cup cooked glutinous rice flour into the simple syrup and stir quickly.  Repeat the process 2 more times making sure to stir vigorously for at least 1 minute with the addition of each 1/2 cup of cooked glutinous rice flour.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour and combine well.  Note the dough will be quite thick and sticky.  Let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

Cover the work surface with a 1/4 cup of sifted cooked glutinous rice flour.  Transfer the dough to the work surface.  Sprinkle the dough with another layer of sifted cooked glutinous rice flour.  Gently roll the dough in the flour coating it well.   Roll the dough into a log.  Fold over the ends and then roll again.  Repeat this process 3 times.  Gently knead the dough a few times.  Do not overwork the dough.  This process should take about 5 minutes.

Cut off a golf ball-sized amount of the dough.  Roll into a ball and allow to rest on the work surface for 5 minutes.  If the ball does not flatten or lose its shape, it’s good and you can continue to making the cakes.  If the ball flattens or loses its shape, add more flour and incorporate into the dough.  Perform the ball test again.

Dust the mooncake molds with the sifted flour and then remove the excess amounts by inverting the mold and tapping it gently with our fingers.

Cut a piece of dough and weigh it to make sure it’s the needed size.  Shaped the dough into a small patty.  Place the filling ball in the center of the dough and then wrap the dough around the filling.  Pinch the dough together to seal.  Gently roll the ball between your palms to smooth out the dough.

Please the cake ball into the mooncake mold with the seams facing upward.  Using your palm, gently press the cake into the molds.  Use your fingers to push the dough to the edges of the mold making sure to fill it completely.

Flip the mold over.  Remove the lid and then tap the sides of the mold to remove the cake.

Dust off the excess flour using a pastry brush and transfer to a plate using an small offet spatula.  These cakes are delicate so move them with care.

Yields: 2 lbs dough, number of cakes varies depending on size of the mooncake molds

To make these pretty and colorful mooncakes, watch the video below.


These Snowskin Mooncakes with a Taro Root filling really pop with just a bit of food coloring!

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Snowskin Mooncakes Part 1: Making the Syrup and Taro Root Filling (Banh Deo: Cach Nau Nuoc Duong, Lam Nhan Khoai Mon)

Snowskin Mooncake with a sweet Taro Root FillingI am counting down the days to the Mid-Autumn Festival.  Every year as this holiday approaches, I wish I had more time to make these beautiful mooncakes.  They are fun to make, lovely to look at and so delicious to eat.  The only downside is they are labor-intensive.  Over the years, I’ve developed a method of making these cakes over two days so it’s more manageable.  I make the filling and syrup one day.  Then on the following day, I make the dough and form the cakes.  In sharing these videos, I am following the same timeline.  Below is the first part of the recipe where we make the simple syrup and filling balls.  Please click this link for Snowskin Mooncakes Part 2.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

When making the syrup, remember there’s no stirring while it’s cooking.  (I know this is difficult. 🙂 )  Stirring causes the sugar to recrystallize and we don’t want this.  The lemon juice also helps to prevent recrystallization as well.

I don’t typically cook in grams, but for this recipe it’s best, as most mooncake molds are sized in grams.  You can eye-ball the measurements but I do recommend using a food scale to size the filling balls appropriately.

The typical dough to filling ratio is 1:1 although this is not a hard and fast rule.  For a 200 gram mold, you would make the dough 100 grams and the filling 100 grams.  I prefer slightly more dough to filling in my mooncakes.  For a 200 gram cake, I use 120 grams for the dough and 80 grams for the filling.  Again, there’s no set rule so feel free to adjust to your preference.

There’s just enough water in the recipe to cook the taro root and provide liquid for processing.  If you over-boil the taro root, you won’t have enough liquid and will unwittingly overwork the food processor as the taro root is quite starchy.  If you need to add more water during processing to make the filling smooth, go ahead but be sure to use hot water.  It’s better to have a looser filling where we can cook-off the liquid later than a filling that is too dry.

It is very common for taro root filling to get crusty or form a skin on the pan when cooking.  We can add more vegetable oil if you don’t mind the extra oil or we can be diligent about stirring continually and scrapping the bottom and sides of the pan.  If the pan gets too crusty, transfer to a clean one and continue cooking.

If the filling is initially loose and drippy, you may need to cook for more than 20-25 minutes.  In this case, add an extra 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil after 20 minutes so the filling doesn’t get too dry.

Watch the video below for instructions.


Simple Syrup

Ingredients

4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions

Add the water and sugar into a saucepan.  Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Put away the whisk.  There’s no stirring after this step.

Set the heat to Medium and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice.  Gently swirl the pan combining the lemon juice and syrup.  Bring the syrup to a gentle boil again.

Turn off the heat and allow to cool completely.

If not using right away, store in a jar or air-tight container.  No refrigeration is needed.

Yields: 5 cups

Taro Root Filling

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs taro root (fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water

Optional: 1 oz cooked purple sweet potato or yam
1 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp powdered milk or creamer
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp roasted/cooked glutinous rice flour
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions

Remove the skin of the taro root using a vegetable peeler.  Cut into small chunks.  Place in a saucepan along with salt and water.  Cover the pan and bring to a boil over High heat.  When it comes to a boil, stir the taro root.  Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the taro root is soft and can be easily mashed.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the taro root along with the liquid into a food processor.  Optionally add the purple sweet potato or yam.  Add the butter, powdered milk, sugar, and cooked glutinous rice flour.  Process for 2 minutes or until the filling is smooth and resembles a thick cake batter.

In a large frying pan or skillet, add the vegetable oil and then the filling.  Cook the filling over Low heat making sure to stir it constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan.  Cook the filling for approximately 20-25 minutes.  As the liquid is cooked-off, the filling becomes much thicker, resembling dough.  When the filling can be folded several times, hold its shape and not flatten, it’s done.  Turn-off the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Divide the filling into the sized needed for your mooncakes.  Roll into balls and allow to cool completely.

Cover and refrigerate the balls if not using right away.  Allow to come to room temperature before using to make mooncakes.

Yields: 1 1/2 lbs or 680 grams

Taro Root Filling Balls for Mooncakes

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Cream Puffs (Banh Choux/Banh Su Kem)

 

Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Every now and then you need a sweet treat that is completely decadent and indulgent.  Well friends, this dessert delivers!  Made with a light, soft pastry dough and filled with a gooey, sweet custard, these Cream Puffs are absolutely luscious!  These French-inspired pastries are not as difficult to make as you might think.  Below I’ve broken down the recipe so it’ll be easy to follow and shared some recipe shortcuts and tips.  The next time you need a sophisticated dessert with a some flair, try this easy recipe.  And when you serve these eye-catching Cream Puffs, everyone will think you’re a master pastry chef!  By all means, graciously take the credit! 🙂

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Keep an eye on the consistency of the dough after you add the third egg.  If it seems wet, add just the egg yolk and not the egg whites.  If after adding all 4 eggs the dough seems dry, add 1 Tbsp of water or more as needed.  The pastry dough should be moist and pliable but not dry.  Test by placing a dollop of the dough on a plate.  It should hold its shape and not ooze.  If it’s too wet, sift in a little flour.

After placing the puffs on a baking sheet, bake them right away.  Don’t let them sit long or the dough will get too soft.

The time-consuming part of the recipe is making the puffs.  If you’re pressed for time, simply drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a baking sheet like you would drop biscuits or cookie dough.  For fancier, prettier puffs, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Another option is to bake the puffs in muffin pans.  The mini-muffin pans work really well if you don’t want to fuss with a pastry bag but want the puffs to be a bit more uniform.

If you’d like to make the Cream Puffs in advance, make the filling and puffs the day before and refrigerate.  Allow the puffs and filling to come to room temperature before assembling and serving.

Refrigerate any uneaten portions.  These puffs are best if eaten within 1-2 days.

Recipe Shortcuts and Variations

A shortcut for making the filling from scratch is to use instant pudding.  For even more time-savings, buy the ready-to-eat pudding cups–it doesn’t get simpler than that!  The instant pudding or pudding cups are super convenient and inexpensive and nowadays there are many more flavor options other than chocolate and vanilla.

For a lighter fluffier filling, add equal parts of whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping to the custard or pudding.

The traditional Cream Puffs have a vanilla custard but make it with whatever filling you like.  Here are some yummy filling options:

  • Fruit – Add a few spoonfuls of preserves or jam to the custard filling or add pureed fresh fruit.  Some tasty flavors to try: Banana, Strawberry, Cherry, Apple, and Pineapples
  • Butterscotch – replace the white sugar in the filling recipe with dark brown sugar
  • Coconut – replace half of the milk with coconut milk.  Optionally, add grated coconut flakes for more flavor and texture.
  • Coffee – add 2 tsp of instant coffee
  • Mocha – add 2 tsp of instant coffee + 2 tsp chocolate powder
  • Alcohol and Liqueurs:  Add a 2 tsp of sweet rum or brandy or add a flavored liqueur like Godiva Chocolate, Bailey’s or Kahlua

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Pandan Waffle Cones and Cookies, Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, and Orange Chiffon Cake with Edible Flowers.

Ingredients

for the Custard Filling
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the Puffs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet vanilla sugar (3/4 Tbsp)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
4 large eggs

Optional Toppings
1/4 cup melted chocolate
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle boil over Medium heat and then turn-off the heat.  Measure out 1 cup of hot milk and set aside.  Leave the remaining milk in the saucepan.

In a separate saucepan, add sugar, flour, cornstarch, egg yolks and the cup of milk set aside earlier.  Whisk together combining all ingredients well.  Using a sieve, strain the custard mixture into the remaining milk still in the saucepan.  Over Medium Low heat, stir constantly while cooking the sauce until it thickens, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Turn-off the heat.  Whip the custard vigorously for 1 minute to remove any lumps.  Add the vanilla extract and combine well.  Transfer to a bowl and cover the custard surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

Combine flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla sugar and sift.  In a saucepan over Medium heat, add water and butter and cook until the butter is melted.  When the liquid just starts to boil, reduce the heat to Low.  Add the sifted flour mixture and quickly stir together making a soft dough.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.  Spread out the dough and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add 1 egg to the dough and mix on  Low speed for 1 minute.  Continue adding the eggs one at a time and then mixing for 1 minute until all the eggs are added.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place tablespoonfuls of dough onto a large baking sheet or use a pastry bag to make the puffs.  Wet fingertips with water and then gently press the top of each puff flattening any peaks.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until puffy and golden brown.

Remove puffs from the oven.  Pierce each puff with a toothpick to release any hot air inside, place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Use a hand blender to whip the custard filling so it’s smooth and creamy.

Cut each puff in half lengthwise but not all the way across.  Pull back the top.  Fill the puff with a generous amount of the custard filling.

Optionally, drizzle the puffs with melted chocolate and dust with powdered sugar.

Yields: 16 puffs, approximately 3 inches in diameter

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

 

Mini Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Mini Cream Puffs (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

 

Heart-Shaped Cream Puff (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Heart-Shaped Cream Puff (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

 

Mini Cream Puffs with Chocolate Pudding Center (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

Mini Cream Puffs with Chocolate Pudding Center (Banh Su Kem/Banh Choux)

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Sesame Balls (Banh Cam)

Sesame Balls (Banh Cam) | recipe from runawayrice.comMaking these delicious Sesame Balls is an activity the whole family can enjoy.  This is one of those recipes where it helps to have lots of helping hands.  Set up an assembly line where someone can roll the balls, the kiddies can apply the sesame seeds and someone can fry the balls.  Of course, you’ll have lots of volunteers for the eating part.  The recipe makes 1 dozen good-sized sesame balls but you can easily double or triple the recipe as needed.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Different brands of glutinous rice flour yield different results.  Test the dough by stretching it slightly.  If it cracks, it’s too dry so add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  The dough should be soft and smooth and not sticky.

Gently press the sesame seeds into the ball or they will pop off when they are immersed in the hot oil.

The rule for frying these balls is to have the oil level slightly higher than the height of the balls.  You can use less oil if you use a smaller pan but you’ll have to fry in several batches.  If you’re making a double recipe, let’s say for a party, buy lots of oil and fry in a large wok.

Getting the oil temperature just right is probably the trickiest part of cooking these balls to perfection.  Keep in mind that once the oil reaches the desired temperature of 315 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll have to turn down the heat slightly to keep it at this temperature.  If the oil is too hot, the balls will cook too quickly.  The dough will be over-cooked on the outside but raw on the inside.  I use a thermometer to get the oil temperature just right.  If you don’t have one, you can test the oil by dipping chopsticks into the oil.  If small bubbles form gently around the tips of the chopsticks, the oil is the right temperature.  The bubbles should be gentle and not splatter and form vigorously indicating the oil is too hot.  If the latter is the case, lower the heat and try again in a few minutes.

Refrigerate what is not eaten at the end of the day.  The best way to reheat the balls is to pop them in the toaster oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 minutes.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Hollow Donuts (Banh Tieu).

Ingredients

12 filling balls
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup potato flakes + 1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups glutinous rice flour
1 Tbsp rice flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
3 cups vegetable oil for frying

Directions

In a measuring cup, combine sugar with the hot water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  In a large bowl, add the boiling water to the potato flakes.  Stir until the potatoes are thick and creamy.  Add the glutinous rice flour, rice flour, baking powder, oil and syrup.  Mix together working in the dry flour until a soft dough forms.  Knead the dough gently with your hands.  If the dough is too dry, add water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  The dough should be soft and smooth, not wet and sticky.   (The additional water varies with the type of glutinous rice flour used.  I typically add  2-3 Tbsp more.)  Cover dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch log.  Cut the log in half and then cut each section in half again making 4 equal sections.  Cut each of the sections into 3 equal pieces making 12 pieces all together.

Take a section of dough and flatten making approximately a 3-inch circle. Flatten the edges of the dough so it’s slightly thinner than the middle.  Place a filling ball in the center.  Wrap the dough around the ball pinching together the ends sealing the filling completely.  Roll the ball between your palms to form a smooth ball.

Roll the ball in sesame seeds covering the dough completely.  Gently roll the ball between your palms pressing the sesame seeds into the dough.

Over Medium heat, heat oil until the temperature is 315 degrees Fahrenheit.  Turn down heat slightly to Medium Low.  Carefully drop the sesame balls into the hot oil.  Cook for 1 minute and then rotate the balls.  After 3 minutes the balls float to the top.  Fry balls for another 5-7 minutes rotating them in the oil so they brown evenly.  When they are golden brown, remove from pan and place on paper towels and allow to cool slightly.

Enjoy while warm!

Yields:  1 dozen

Sesame Balls (Banh Cam) | recipe from runawayrice.com

 

 

 

Sesame Balls with Pumpkin Filling | recipe from runawayrice.com
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Sweet Fillings for Desserts and Pastries: Mung Bean and Coconut, Pumpkin Spice (Nhan Dau Xanh, Nhan Bi Do)

Mung Bean and Pumpkin Filling Balls | recipe from runawayrice.comThis recipe is a two-parter.  In Part 1, below, I share the recipe for making a sweet mung bean and coconut filling–a more traditional recipe.  If you’re looking for a different fusion of flavors, check out my second filling recipe where I use pumpkin.  In Part 2 (to be released next week), I use these fillings to make scrumptious Sesame Balls.  The mung bean balls are familiar and delicious but my favorite is the pumpkin filling.  I love the combination of pumpkin and spice and the flavors go so well with the fried sweet dough.  It is decadent and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The key to making a good filling is cooking it just right so it’s not too dry or too wet   If it’s too dry you won’t be able to roll it into a ball.  If it’s too wet, it becomes difficult to encase with a layer of dough as it will stick to your fingers and the dough.  Also keep in mind, moisture content is different when using freshly mashed mung bean versus previously frozen and thawed mung bean.  I always have to add more water to the previously frozen mung bean to get the balls to form nicely.  If you want a creamy, richer taste, you can always add more vegetable oil as I only use a minimal amount in my recipe.  The pumpkin filling has more moisture and the cooking time is longer.  Please note these balls tend to be wetter than the mung bean balls.  For the pumpkin filling, if I have the time, I’ll refrigerate overnight.  This helps to dry them out further.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Mooncakes with Sweet Red Bean Filling (Banh Trung Thu / Banh Nuong Nhan Dau Do), Snowskin Mooncakes Part 1: Making the Syrup and Taro Root Filling (Banh Deo: Cach Nau Nuoc Duong, Lam Nhan Khoai Mon) and Salted Egg Yolks.

Mung Bean and Coconut Filling

Ingredients
9 oz mashed mung bean
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut flakes

Directions

Combine water and sugar over Low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In a large skillet over Medium Low heat, add the mashed mung bean, simple syrup, oil and vanilla extract.

Mix together forming a thick paste.  Continue stirring the filling as it cooks.  After 3-4 minutes the filling dries and has the consistency of a thick dough.  Turn off the heat and add in the coconut flakes.  Combine well.

When filling is cool enough to handle, roll into even-sized balls.  (It’s easier to roll into balls when the filling is still warm.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yields:  1 dozen balls


Pumpkin Spice Filling

Ingredients

15 oz can pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vegetable oil

Directions

Combine water and brown sugar over Low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In a large skillet over Medium Low heat, add the pureed pumpkin, all spices, vanilla extract, oil and melted sugar.  Mix together.

Stirring frequently, cook the filling for 10-12 minutes or until it has the consistency of a thick dough.

When the filling is cool enough to handle, roll into even-sized balls.  (It’s easier to roll into balls when the filling is still warm.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yields:  1 dozen balls

Mung Bean Filling Balls | recipe from runawayrice.com

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