Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet Sesame Dumplings 汤圆 (Tangyuan)

     These couple past weeks have sure gone by quick.  And by that, I mean that it's the end of Chinese New Year, today, and my mom and brother are finally coming back from China tonight!
     At the end of a long day, nothing is more comforting than a nice bowl  of tangyuan.  Those are a traditional Chinese dessert made of gluttinous rice flour, water and filling.  Tangyuan are a tradition to eat on Chinese New Year, but I've never made them myself before.  Why not try them yourself?
      First, you toast some sesame seeds and grind them to a paste.

      Then you add some sugar and butter and melt it all together.
      It will be liquidy, but after you chill it for half an hour, it'll be dryer and easier to scoop onto the dough.
      To make the dough, just mix glutinous or sweet rice flour with water and knead it until it's smooth.  It's that easy.

      Then, cut it into equal portions and roll the pieces into balls.
      Flatten the balls into circles and fill them like a dumpling.

      Then, just boil them in some water (you can add brown sugar to the water to make a nice, sweet soup) and when they float, they're done!

       I love watching the little white balls float to the surface, and them devouring them right after.  You can make and wrap the dumplings ahead of time and cover and freeze them for a long time before boiling them.  You can also make them without the filling.

Sweet Boiled Sesame Dumplings 汤圆

makes 16-20 tangyuan
adapted from Rasa Malaysia 


8 oz glutinous rice ( or sweet rice) flour
180ml (3/4 cup) water, room temperature
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick or 2 oz) unsalted butter


  1. Combine the glutinous rice flour and water and knead until it's smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Toast the sesame seeds in a wok over medium heat, just until they're fragrant.  Then grind them in a blender or food processor until fine.  Return to wok over low heat and add butter and sugar, stirring until it's a smooth paste.  Pour into a small bowl, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for at least thirty minutes, until it's drier and scoopable. 
  3. Cut the dough into 16-20 pieces.  Roll into balls and flatten.  Put a bit of filling in the middle and wrap it up.  Then, gently roll the dumpling into a spherical shape. Repeat with the rest of the dough.  If not cooking them on the same day, cover in plastic wrap and freeze.
  4. Boil some water and add a spoonful of brown sugar.  Add the dumplings and boil.  When they float on the surface, remove with a ladle and pour into a bowl.  Serve immediately.  

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