I was so busy preparing for Christmas that I nearly forgotten about this year's Winter Solstice Festival. Winter Solstice Festival or Dong Zhi is supposed to be a huge day for the Chinese. To kick start this festival, I am planning to make black sesame tang yuan, or black sesame glutinous rice balls, this year. Tang yuan is served during this festival to signify reunion and wholeness in the family.
For those of you who are not aware of its nutritional values, black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B, manganese, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is said to be able to prevent graying hair and improve kidney functions besides a host of other benefits (you can read about it here). Although unimpressive in its darkish colour, it has strong nutty bitter taste and aromatic smell. When paired artfully with other ingredients, it will give you that ultimate umani taste.
Black sesame tang yuan is a very common dessert for Winter Solstice Festival. Nowadays, these little glutinous rice balls are available throughout the year in major grocery stores. All that needs to be done is to boil a pot of ginger syrup and add the cooked balls into the syrup. Since I still have plenty of black sesame seeds, I am making my own. The taste is far superior and authentic. If you are making a lot of it, it is more economical too!
To make the tang yuan stand out, I am planning a surprise. I am making an oozy filling instead of the normal paste, hence, the name molten lava. I have to be honest with you, it is not an easy feat. It is delicate. You have to work fast to wrap the tang yuan or else the filling would get messy once it starts to melt. In my trial run, I have to take one ball out from the freezer at a time to wrap. But the result is so satisfying. It tasted phenomenal. ..and it burst in the mouth! Truly worth my salt!
For the skin, I opted plain to complement the intense flavour of the filling. I made a gingery syrup to go with this tang yuan. You could also use red beans or soya bean milk if you want something different. I also took the liberty of rolling some of those precious morsels in desiccated coconut and serve dry. It gave me a totally different food experience. Looks really pretty too!
Molten Lava Black Sesame Tang Yuan 流沙黑芝麻湯圓Makes 20 balls
60 g Black sesame seeds, toasted
40 g peanut butter
25 g castor sugar
30 g vegetable oil/lard
1 tbsp hot water
140 g glutinous rice flour
60 ml hot water
60 ml water
2.5 liter water
20 gm ginger (one thumb)
3 pandan leaves, knotted
150 rock sugar or to taste
1. Prepare filling. Grind black sesame seeds in a spice grinder until it become very fine and turn to paste. Add hot water to castor sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Lastly add all ingredients in filling into a bowl and mix until it resembles cream. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of filling into an ice cube tray with round shape and put into the freezer. When filling almost harden, use a spoon to shape it into a ball. Continue to freeze until needed.
2. Prepare the skin/dough. Pour hot water into the flour and stir continuously with a fork or chopstick. Then add the remaining water until flour forms a dough. Set dough into refregerator for 1/2 hour or until needed
3. Meanwhile, prepare syrup. Put all the ingredients in soup into a pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes and set aside until needed.
4. Make the tang yuen. Pinch a little dough (about 15g) and knead to form a ball with your palms. Flatten dough and put frozen filling in the middle. Carefully inch dough towards the top until the dough completely covers the filling. Make sure there are no leakages. If you spot any leakages, pinch a little dough to patch up that area.
5. Bring a pot of water to boil. Put the balls into the hot water. Put to a low simmer and cook for about 3 minutes (depending on how big the balls are) before removing. As the balls are very delicate and might be unsightly if burst, it is advisable to cook in batches. Transfer balls into hot ginger syrup and serve. I rolled half in desiccated coconut to serve dry.
Check out my Red Beans Tang Yuan With Pumpkin Skin here: