STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS WITH PICTURS
Let’s start by making the filling. You will need some toasted sesame seeds. You can buy it pre-roasted. Mine is raw so I will place it in a baking pan and bake it in a 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Let it cool completely.
Put the sesame seeds into a blender along with 50 grams of granulated sugar. Blend this as fine as you can because we want the final result to be smooth and fluent.
Sesame seed will produce oil as you are grinding it, which makes it stick to the side of the blender. You will have to use a spatula to scrape it down and help to even it out.
Pour it into a bowl and mix with 75 grams of unsalted and melted butter. If you want to make this vegan, you can use coconut oil.
Continue by adding 45 grams of honey. Honey acts not only as a sweetener, but also, it will bind the filling together, so it is easier to roll into balls.
Mix this really well until there is no lump. Right now, the filling is very liquid, which is impossible to portion it out. You have to stick it into the freezer uncovered and chill for 30 minutes or until it is semi frozen.
Here is my trick to portion out the filling. Get a small round measuring spoon. I am using the 3/4 tsp, which is the perfect size. If you don’t have this measurement, you can use 1/2 tsp. You just have to scoop a little more to get the right amount. Put it on the scale, zero it out. Dip it in water to prevent stickiness. Then use it to scoop the filling like how you scoop ice cream. It should naturally ball up. Put it on the scale again, each one should be about 8 grams.
The ball is not perfect. You have to roll it in between your hands to make it round and smooth. Always remember to wet the spoon in between each scoop and continue to do the next one. I remember the first time I made Tangyuan, I was portioning the filling by hand. The butter gets soft really fast because my hands are warm. The sesame filling sticks all over my hand and the countertop. I was so frustrated. This spoon trick makes everything easy and fast.
Make sure the balls don’t touch each other. Otherwise it will be hard to separate them once frozen. Alright, pop them back into the freezer until it becomes rock hard, which will take about 1 hour.
While waiting, we can make the wrapper. Bring 160 grams of water to a boil then pour into 300 grams of glutinous rice flour. Mix this really because you want to evenly distribute the cooked glutinous rice, so it will be easier to knead until smooth later.
Continue by adding 75 grams of room temperature water in batches. Keep mixing at the same time.
Then go in with your hand to knead it until a rough dough forms. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom so you don’t waste anything.
Transfer it to a working surface. You only need a few minutes of kneading then it will be nice and smooth. If you feel the dough gets sticky, you can sprinkle a little more glutinous rice flour.
The dough should have a really good ductility, you can stretch it very long.
Roll the dough into a long even log. Then cut it into even small pieces. This recipe is enough to make 30-35 Tangyuan, you don’t really need to scale them. Just go with your eyes. Cover with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
Take the filling out of the freezer. It is rock hard now. Grab a piece of the dough and shape it into a small bowl. Put the filling in. Use your thumb and your forefinger to squeeze it around to push the wrapper up. When you get to the end, just pinch to close it. Roll the ball in between your hand until it is round and smooth. This is quite important because tangyuan is a symbol of reunion. It carries our best wishes. If you feel like the filling gets too soft while you are wrapping, you can pop them back into the freezer for 10-15 minutes and continue to wrap them.
Now comes to my favorite part - cooking the Tangyuan. Bring 3.5 cups of water to a boil. Drop in the glutinous rice balls. Carefully move the tangyuan so they don’t stick to the bottom. Turn the heat to low and keep it at a slight simmer. Stir it once every 30 seconds. The filling is cooked, so we are just cooking the wrapper. Don’t ask me how long this gonna take, because as soon as the glutinous rice balls float on the top of the water, they are cooked through. Quickly mix 4 tbsp of glutinous rice flour and 1/4 cup of water. Pour it into the pot to thicken up the soup. Add 4-6 tbsp of rose jam as a sweetener. You can use honey, syrup, sugar, or even monk fruit extract. Rose jam will give a beautiful pink color to the soup, which makes a great presentation. Last is an optional ingredients, 1/2 cup of sweet rice wine. This is what I am using, and yes, it is made with glutinous rice as well. You can see the rice grains. The alcohol content is very low and it taste sweet almost like syrup. I normally don’t drink wine, but this is an exception. It just gives me that hometown, childhood touch. Of course, if you can’t cook with alcohol, you can skip it and add a little more sweetener to adjust the taste.
Alright, let’s give it a try. It is very smooth and sticky. The filling is so sweet and packed with nuttiness. This is how it is supposed to taste like and why it is a blessing dessert. May all of us have a smooth and perfect life. You and your partner are sweet to each other and always stick together just like these sweet and sticky rice dumplings - Happy lantern festival.