Happy Lunar New Year to all who are celebrating! My favorite tradition is to make dumplings on Lunar New Year, but this year I wanted to try something new. Sesame balls are a classic Chinese dessert typically served with dim sum. The outside is a crispy nutty ball with a soft and chewy center filled with red bean paste or lotus paste. I made a new version with what I had on hand, and I have to say the flavors paired so well with the sweet sesame dough. They are easy and fun to make and I think you'll love this version:
Yields 8 large balls
Step : 1 Make the Paste. Yield: 1 cup Black Sugar and Toasted Walnut Paste:
1 cup of walnuts
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of black sugar (or Okinawa Sugar)
1/3 cup of Maple Syrup
Pinch of Salt
Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until fragrant. Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of black sugar. Let the sugar melt and toss the nuts to coat. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a food processor, add in the toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup of black sugar, and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is a fine coarse meal. Set the processor to low speed and drizzle in the maple slowly until a paste forms. Transfer the paste to a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Make the dough
2 cups of sweet rice flour
1/4 cup of black sugar
1 cup of hot water
1 cup of sesame seeds
In a small bowl, add the black sugar and pour in the hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate bowl, measure out the sweet rice flour. Pour the sugar and water into the flour and mix until a dough begins to firm. If the mixture is very dry, add additional hot water by the tablespoon until you have a workable dough and knead for 8 minutes.
Using a food scale, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 2.3 oz each. Roll each piece of dough in to a rough ball (doesn't have to be perfect at this step) and press it into a flat disk. Add about 2 teaspoons to the filling to the center and form into a ball, rolling it between your hands until it is very smooth and round.
To coat the balls in sesame seeds: Place the sesame seeds a square of cheese cloth and rinse them with water. Wring out excess water from the seeds and place into a bowl. Toss each ball around in the seeds until completely coated and set aside while you prepare the frying oil.
To Fry the Sesame Balls:
1.5 quarts of neutral frying oil such as peanut oil or vegetable oil
Affix a candy thermometer to the side of a large dutch oven and add the oil. Heat the frying oil to 350 degrees. Add each ball carefully to the hot oil. Watch the temperature of the oil to keep it stable at no lower than 320 degrees and allow the balls to fry for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, increase the heat of the oil a bit higher and fry the balls for another 2-3 minutes. This will ensure that the outside is fried to a crispier texture and will prevent the balls from deflating after they are taken out. Remove the balls and place on a wire rack to cool. Cool for about 15 minutes but not much longer than they because they are best when they are hot or very warm.