These little pretty purses called tang-yuan, meaning ‘soup circles’, are a wildly beloved Chinese dessert and are very popular, if not mandatory, at all major celebratory events. Each ball is a mouthful of complimenting textures and flavours – chewy and runny, sweet and slightly salty, intensely nutty and rich – balanced with the subtle bitterness and fragrance from lightly honey-sweetened green tea.
- 105 g smooth peanut butter
- 30 g coconut oil, warmed slightly until melted
- 18 g brown sugar
- 190 g glutinous (sticky) rice flour, plus extra, to dust
- 135 ml water
- 28 ml canola oil
- hot green tea lightly sweetened with honey, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 40 minutes
Freezing time 30 minutes
To make the peanut butter filling, whisk the peanut butter, coconut oil and brown sugar in a bowl until even and very smooth, then chill in the fridge for 30–40 minutes or until solidified.
Scoop out little balls, about 2 teaspoons each, and roll until lightly coated on a small tray generously dusted with the extra rice flour, shaping them as round as you can with your hand. You should have about 15 peanut butter balls. Freeze for 30 minutes to harden.
To make the sticky rice wrappers, combine the rice flour and water in a large bowl with a fork; the mixture will be very dry and chalky, and that's totally fine. Make 2 small balls, about 1 tablespoon each but no larger, by squeezing the mixture tightly with your hand, then cook in boiling water for 5 minutes or until they float to the top and slightly swell. Return the cooked balls to the bowl with the canola oil. Cool for 2–3 minutes, then knead everything for at least 5 minutes or until a very even, smooth, soft dough (it should be very pliable and slightly sticky). If the dough is tough and cracks, add 1 tablespoon of water. If it is sticky, add more rice flour.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and cover with plastic wrap. Take the hard peanut butter balls out of the freezer. Flatten 1 portion of dough with your hand until 3 mm thick (do not dust with more rice flour). Place 1 peanut butter ball in the centre, bring the dough edges tightly together at the top and pinch off the excess dough. Roll the ball between your palms, shaping as round and even as you can (be careful not to expose the filling). Roll in the extra rice flour and set aside on a tray.
Repeat with the remaining dough (you can gather the scrap dough to make 2–3 more) and peanut butter balls. Freeze the balls until needed.
To cook and serve, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Dust off the excess rice flour, then gently drop the balls into the water. Give a gentle stir to prevent sticking to the bottom, then cook for 3–4 minutes or until they float to the surface, then another 1 minute or until slightly swelled. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with honey green tea.
• Glutinous rice flour, also known as sweet or sticky rice flour, is available from Asian food stores.
Recipe from Lady and Pups by Mandy Lee, with photographs by Mandy Lee.