With an overwhelming raft of romantically-themed events and promotions due on Valentine’s Day, let’s not forget that tomorrow is also the Chinese Lantern Festival. As well as heading out to watch beautiful lanterns (as the name might suggest), Chinese families traditionally make glutinous rice balls on this special day.
The auspicious snack, round in shape and sweet in taste, symbolizes family unity, completeness, and happiness. If your family does not feel like going out to joins the Valentine chaos, this is the dessert to add a delicious final touch to your evening meal.
When I was young, at this time every year I looked forward to making glutinous rice balls with my mum. Here is the recipe we used to make the classic black sesame rice ball (黑芝麻汤圆), and we hope you enjoy making it as much as we did.
What you will need (for a family of 3-4):
1. 500g glutinous rice flour (500克糯米粉)
2. 200g black sesame seeds (200克黑芝麻)
3. 150g sugar (150克白糖)
4. Butter or animal fat, to taste (适量黄油或动物油)
1. Toast the black sesame seeds in a flat pan until they are all golden brown, then transfer them out of a pan to let them cool. Use a food processor to grind the seeds into a fine powder. 黑芝麻先炒熟，然后用搅拌机或料理机研磨成粉末。
2. Mix the grinded black sesame seeds with sugar and butter in a bowl and set aside. 拌入白糖成黑芝麻馅，备用。
3. Mix the glutinous rice flour with warm water in a big bowl until it forms a smooth dough. 糯米粉用60—70度的热水混合，揉成面团。
4. Divide the dough into about 20 equally-sized balls. Make a hole with your thumb in each and insert the filling. Seal them, then roll each between your hands into a perfect ball. 把面团分成约20个小圆面团, 用拇指在每个面团上按出一个小洞, 放入黑芝麻馅, 慢慢将开口处黏合，搓圆。
5. Heat up a pot of boiling water and drop the balls in. They are ready to serve as soon as they float to the top. 锅里放多点水烧开，下汤圆，煮开，看汤圆全浮起来即煮熟.
Photos: jmibanez and debra Solomon (Flickr)