Chinese New Year Recipe: Yuanxiao (sweet rice balls)

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Yuanxiao, or sweet rice balls, are traditionally eaten on Lantern Festival, which is the last day of the two-week Chinese New Year holiday. Lantern Festival falls on the first full moon of the new year and people traditionally go out on the street at night carrying lanterns, and light fireworks and visit friends and family. They also eat this sweet dessert, which has a round shape symbolizing family unity and happiness (and the full moon). The ingredients can be found at Asian supermarkets.

 

Ingredients:

 

4 1/2 cups glutinous (sticky) rice flour
7/8 cup (14 tablespoons) butter
7 oz (200 g) black sesame powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp white wine

 

Instructions:

 

1. Mix butter with sesame powder, sugar and wine. You may need to heat the mixture a little to soften it. Let the mixture cool and then form into very small balls (as big around as a penny).

 

2. Put the rice flour in a bowl and mix with a little water at a time until it holds together and is soft like play-doh.

 

3. Make the dough into balls a little smaller than a golf ball. Make a deep indentation in each ball and put the smaller balls of sesame powder mixture inside, and then close it up completely.

 

4. Cook them in boiling water. Make sure to keep stirring gently in one direction while cooking. When the water reaches a boil, add some cold water and let it boil again. When they float on the water, continue to boil for about one minute at a lower temperature.

 

5. Remove from the pan immediately. Serve them while hot in a bowl covered with the water they were cooked in. You can also add some ginger and sugar to the broth to make a sweet syrup.

 

*This recipe has been partially adapted from: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/chinesenewyear/r/yuanxiao.htm

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