THEY COMPLETE ME
Sorry but I have to run off quickly today, and leave you with this traditional and wildly beloved Chinese dessert. These little pretty purses called tang-yuan, meaning “soup-circles”, are very popular, if not mandatory, at all major celebratory event and holidays because of their literal implication for roundedness and completeness. The elegance of its name may be lost in translation but I assure you that the reasons for their popularity are not, if you would just invest 1 hour of your life to find out.
The recipe for sticky rice ball-dough is an update from an older recipe, which I thought had a couple unnecessary steps and confusions. Then instead of making a peanut-filling from scratch, which would probably never be as smooth with my incompetent food-processor, I decided to use a mix of store-bought smooth peanut butter with a little coconut oil (to loosen the texture further) and brown sugar. The sticky rice wrapper is slippery and chewy, like little delicious purses bursting with lava-like peanut butter filling that comes with a hint of coconuts. It’s a mouthful of complimenting textures and flavours, chewy and runny, sweet and slightly salty, intensely nutty and rich but balanced with the subtle bitterness and fragrance from lightly honey-sweetened green tea.
More than just words, they’ll complete you.
*UPDATE APRIL 15, 2015: Someone commented on how the rice balls crack after freezing, which happened to me today as well. And the only difference I noticed about the process was that my dough was too wet and sticky this time. Even though I used the exact amount of sticky rice flour and water, my 2 pre-cooked dough-balls were bigger than usual, which resulted in a huge difference in the wetness of the final dough. So keep in mind.
*UPDATE 02/13/2016: I made this recipe again and want to make a slight change to the ratio. I find the original ratio to be too soft, so I would use 110 grams of water first instead of 130 grams. If you find that the dough cracks or is too dry to stick together, then cook another small piece of dough and knead it in as Instructed.
- 6 tbsp (105 grams) smooth peanut butter
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) coconut oil, warmed up slightly until melted
- 2 tbsp (18 grams) light brown or brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup (190 grams) sticky rice flour, plus more for dusting
- Scant 1/2 cup (110 grams) water
- 2 tbsp (25 grams) canola oil
- Hot brewed green tea, lightly sweetened with honey
- TO MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER FILLING: Whisk together smooth peanut butter, coconut oil and light brown sugar until even and very smooth, then chill in the fridge for 30~40 min until solidified. Scoop out little balls about 2 tsp each, then roll in a small tray that's generously dusted with sticky rice flour so they're lightly coated, and shape them as round as you can with your hand. You should have about 15+ of them. Flash freeze for 30 min to harden.
- TO MAKE THE STICKY RICE WRAPPER: Combine sticky rice flour and water in a large bowl with a fork. The mixture would seem very dry and chalky, and that's totally fine. Make 2 small balls (about 1 tbsp each but no larger) by squeezing the mixture tightly together with your hand, then cook them in boiling water for 5 min until floated to the top and slightly swelled up. Add the cooked balls back to the bowl, along with canola oil. Let cool for a couple min, then knead everything together for at least 5 min, into a very even, smooth and soft dough. It should be very pliable and very slightly sticky. If it seems tough and cracks, add another tbsp of water. If it's sticky, add more sticky rice flour until it isn't.
- Divid the dough into 12 equal portions and cover with plastic wrap. Take the peanut butter-filling out of the freezer (should be pretty hard at this point). Flatten 1 portion of the dough with your hand (do NOT dust with more flour) into about 1/8" (3 mm) thickness. Place 1 filling in the center, then bring the edges tightly together at the top, then pinch off excess dough. Roll the ball in between your palms to shape them as round and even as you can (but careful not to expose the filling), then roll in extra sticky rice flour and set aside on a tray. Repeat with the rest, then gather the scrap-dough and you should be able to make 2~3 more out of it. These can be kept frozen until needed.
- TO COOK AND SERVE: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dust off any excess sticky rice flour, then gently drop the balls into the pot. Give it a gentle stir to prevent sticking on the bottom, then cook for 3~4 min until they float to the surface, then another min until slightly swelled up. Drain with slotted spoon, and serve with honey green tea.
Again, this is a recipe I would recommend measuring by weight instead of volume.