Friday, November 11, 2011

Chinese Sweet Rice Balls--a naturally gluten, milk, and soy-free treat

I recently bought some Chinese red rice to try for a little variety. I didn't find much on that but I stumbled across this recipe for Sweet Rice Balls that intrigued me. I'm always looking for easy recipes for my kids so I decided to try it. Result: BIG SUCCESS! They were a big hit and really easy to make.

Filling:
1/3 c peanut butter (or sesame, almond, or other desired nut butter)
1/4 c powdered sugar
rice, soy, or cow's milk to desired consistency

Stir powdered sugar into peanut butter and if necessary, add a small amount of liquid if it get's too thick and clumpy. You should be able to pick up and shape the peanut butter with your fingers. I used a knife to place pieces onto the balls.


Shells:

1 cup freshly ground sweet rice flour*
4-6 oz water
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
1/8 c fine ground flour of your choice (I used corn, but sorghum might be really good)
(optional) a nice health idea that I haven't tried yet is to add a small amount of ground flax seed


*I don't store flour, I store whole grains so I used a coffee grinder to grind sweet rice kernels (and it's so much cheaper!). You can use any kind of glutinous rice (does not contain actual gluten, it just means it's sticky). The coffee grinder is an easy way to grind a small amount of grain but it makes the flour a little bit coarse. This is why I had to add xanthan gum and another fine ground flour. If you use Mochiko or a store bought flour you can probably just use water and flour with no additional ingredients.

Fill a medium saucepan halfway full of water and begin to heat. Combine rice flour and water until it forms a large sticky ball. I mixed it with my hands. If the mixture is not sticking add the xanthan gum and other flour until it forms a ball. roll out the ball into a long "snake" and cut into 1/2" circles with a knife. Smash the circles flat and place a small amount of peanut butter filling onto the circles. Wrap the dough around the peanut butter and form small balls. When the water is boiling, place the balls into the water. They will float when they are done. It took mine about 5 minutes. These are best if served while warm.




Syrup: 
This is traditionally served with a fermented rice soup or brown sugar and ginger soup poured over the top. I'm trying to pack my kids with calories so I made a brown sugar and ginger syrup to pour over ours.

1/2 c brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground ginger*
1/4 c water

*You can also use a slice or two of fresh ginger instead.

Stir brown sugar and ginger together in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over rice balls and serve.


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