Monday, December 22, 2014

Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

It's officially winter! Are you feeling the cold? ^_^

I happened to chance upon the Lunar calendar on my mobile phone and noticed that Dōng Zhì 冬至 (Winter Solstice), a festival traditionally celebrated by the Chinese and East Asians with family getting together falls on the 22nd of December this year. This is my second winter solstice away from home. Recalling back, my husband and I were travelling in the Washington D.C. last winter solstice and had missed the eating of tang yuan (glutinous rice balls), a festive food that symbolises reunion traditionally eaten by the southern Chinese. It has been a year now, time flies!

In the past, my Mom used to cook our favourite store-bought glutinous rice balls with peanut fillings during this day of the year. Since this winter solstice came ahead of my year-end trip and glutinous rice flour was surprisingly available in this small city in the west of Florida, I decided to attempt my first home-make (plain) tang yuan from scratch. 

Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

After cracking my head on what to go with my plain home-made tang yuan, I decided on this sweet dessert soup which is quite commonly served to the newly-weds on their wedding day as it seeks to symbolise bliss and reunion. And it kind of brought me back to my wedding day. Much memories~

Have you had your tang yuan this winter solstice?

Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Balls of Glutinous Rice)
The Dream Baker's Creation
Serves 10

Ingredients Required

Tang Yuan
300 grams glutinous rice flour
250 ml water, or more as required
Edible food colourings, as desired
A pot of water
A large bowl of cold water

Dessert Soup
2000 ml water
1 cup dried longans
1/2 cup seedless red dates
Rock sugar, to taste

Preparation Steps

Tang Yuan

  1. In a large bowl, mix together glutinous rice flour and water to form a dough. 
  2. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes to form a pliable dough that is not too sticky to the hands. Balance the texture of the dough by adding more water or flour if dough is too dry or too wet.
  3. Divide dough into three equal portions. Add drops of edible food colouring, as desired to each portion and continue to knead until dough becomes even coloured.
  4. Pinch a small piece of the dough and roll them in between your palms to form a small round ball. Set aside on a baking sheet. Continue until the dough has been rolled into small round balls.
  5. Once done, set baking sheet in the freezer. This helps to firm the rice balls of dough and prevent sticking. Bring the pot of water to boil.
  6. When the water comes to a boil, drop the rice balls into the water and boil until the rice balls float to the surface of the water. Let them bob around for another 3 minutes then turn off the heat.
  7. Sieve out the rice balls and plunge them into the bowl of cold water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. This enhances the chewiness of the rice balls.
  8. Drain rice balls and transfer them to the ready dessert soup and serve.
Dessert soup
  1. In a large pot, combine water, dried longans and red dates and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiled, lower the heat and simmer until the longans puff to its maximum size, about 15 minutes. Add rock sugar to taste.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the cooked rice balls. Serves hot or cold. 

I divided the dough into three portions and made two coloured doughs. I used red edible food colouring and green pandan extract for the pink and green doughs. The original weight of the entire dough worked out to be approximately 550 grams.

I used a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon to portion the dough into smaller pieces so that the rolled rice balls are somewhat similar in size. The dough makes about 70 small rice balls.

The rice balls became more vibrant in colour after they have been cooked!
This recipe is really versatile, feel free to add more or substitute ingredients as desired.

I am sharing this Longan Red Dates with Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls), a festive and family food with Family Foodies (December 2014: Festive Family Food) hosted by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash and organised by Louisa of Eat Your Veg. A total fit with the theme! ^_^

At the same time, I am also sharing this with Recipe of the Week (#BestRecipes2014) hosted by Emily of A Mummy Too because this is definitely one of my favourite (festive) sweet recipe.

Dare to dream.
The Dream Baker


  1. These look absolutely beautiful - such a wonderful entry for December's festive Family Foodies challenge. Thanks so much for linking up :)

    1. Hi Vanesther, thank you! It's a traditional dessert eaten by almost every Chinese families - pretty much qualify as a family foodie I thought. ^_^ It's always my pleasure to share! :)