It was the hub’s birthday yesterday. Last year I made herbal mee suah, a tradition that symbolizes longevity. This year, he was travelling, and only reached home at midnight. It was too late to have mee suah, so I wanted something simpler in the form of a dessert.
So I made tang yuan. It is usually made during the Winter Solstice, and the round shape is meant to signify harmony and togetherness. It is also said that eating this signifies getting older. So based on that, I made this dessert for the hubs. I don’t think people usually serve tang yuan for birthdays, but a birthday is always a good time to indulge in something sweet, no?
I used RasaMalaysia’s recipe here as her recipes have never failed me thus far. I did some modifications however.
8 oz. glutinous rice flour
180 ml water (3/4 cup water)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons)
5 cups water (reduced to 4 cups after boiling)
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. old ginger (skin peeled and then lightly pounded with the flat side of a cleaver)
1/2 teaspoon sweet osmanthus (optional) – I left these out
2 screwpine leaves or pandan leaves (tie them into a knot, optional)
1. Lightly toast the black sesame seeds over medium fire until you smell the aroma of the black sesame seeds. Please take note that the sesame seeds will start popping when they are heated, so use your lid to cover. Don’t burn the black sesame seeds; transfer them out and let cool.
2. Use a mini food processor to grind the black sesame seeds until they become fine. If like me, you don’t have a mini food processor, use a pestle and mortar and plenty of elbow grease to pound the seeds into a fine paste
3. Transfer the ground black sesame into a wok, add sugar and butter and stir well to form a thick paste. If it is too dry, add more butter. Dish out and let cool in the fridge. (This will make the filling easier.)
4. In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands. I found that I had to add more water than what the recipe specified. The trick is to add very little water gradually till you get a good consistency (not sticking to your fingers).
5. Divide equally into 16-20 balls (the bigger the size, the easier it is to do the filling). Flatten each ball in your palm, and then place some black sesame paste and lay it in the middle of the flattened ball. Fold the edge to seal the dumpling. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, very gently and delicately. Set aside.
6. Prepare the ginger syrup by boiling the water. Add the ginger and screwpine/pandan leaves (optional) into the water and boil for 10-15 minutes with medium heat. Add sugar and sweet osmanthus and boil for another 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and reduce to about 4 cups of water. Add more sugar to taste if you like.
7.Heat up another pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, transfer them out and into the ginger syrup. Turn off heat and serve the black sesame dumplings in a bowl immediately.
Note: You do not boil the dumplings in the syrup as you run the risk of having a dumpling leak and tainting your clear syrup.
The filling was sooooo good, I could have happily eaten it on it’s own.