Okay, so the name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but fortunately for you, this is easier made than said! One of my friends at work and I periodically trade links to recipes (for instance, I think I talked her into making Portugese egg tarts this weekend...muahaha!) and a little while back, she sent me a link to Christine's Recipes. I don't remember the original recipe she linked to, but I was browsing (it's a great blog!) and came across this post on sweet potato glutinous rice balls. The pictures looked so nice and reminded me of tang yuan (which I love, but have never made myself), so I knew I had to make these.
I decided to make both purple and orange sweet potato versions, since I happened to have stocked up on both. The first step to making these is to cook your potatoes; steaming is called for in the original recipe, but I baked mine, and it worked out fine. I wouldn't boil them, though! The ratio is 1 part glutinous rice flour to 2 parts of sweet potato, although of course, you will adjust based on how moist your potatoes are. I had to add a bit of water to the purple version, because they are much drier in texture than the orange sweet potatoes. You want a pliable, slightly moist, but not sticky dough. It actually feels a bit like playdough to me!
Pinch off a piece, approximately ping pong ball sized, and roll into a smooth ball. Then take your thumb and make a well; be careful not to go all the way through.
Fill with a chunk of palm sugar. Or, if you are like me and were too lazy to go to Chinatown to buy palm sugar, fill with some dark brown sugar. Pinch to seal, and then roll between your palms to make a nice smooth ball. Repeat with the remaining dough.
See? Nice and neat :D These are now ready to be cooked. Simply bring a large pot of water to the boil, and then drop the balls in gently. Stir immediately so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pot, as they'll sink. (And don't crowd the pan!) Boil until they float; they will also swell somewhat, especially if you cover the pan. After they float, cook them for another 2-3 minutes, and then scoop out with a slotted spoon. Let drain for a minute and then keep the cooked balls on a lightly greased plate until they're all done.
Just before serving, roll each ball in some shredded coconut. You could also serve these as tang yuan, in a ginger syrup. That would probably be pretty delicious, too (and I'll probably do that with the leftovers!) These should be served still warm, so that when you bite into them you'll get a delicious explosion of liquid sweetness. Mmm, sweet explosions.
Aren't they pretty? :) Happy Saturday!