Friday, November 20, 2015

Recipe: Homemade Coconut Snowballs


You've probably seen these in Chinese grocery stores or, if you're lucky, in pot lucks. These glutinous rice coconut snowballs can be filled with a variety of things like toasted ground peanuts, black sesame, sesame and sugar, or coconut and sugar. I've noticed that many cultures have a version of this. It's called nom plae ai in Cambodian, for instance; in Thai, it's kha nom tom; and banh bao chi in Vietnamese.

Here's the recipe Mom wrote down many years ago. She knew exactly what everything meant. I've seen her make this a few times so I'll try my best to break it down.

Glutinous Rice Cake
1 bag (400g) of glutinous rice flour
3/4 cup of sugar
3-1/2 cups water

Ratio of Filling: 
2 Parts Toasted sesame, gently crushed
2 Parts Toasted medium desiccated coconut
1 Part Brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Fine desiccated coconut for the outside
Small muffin cups

Stir the glutinous rice flour with the sugar in a microwaveable bowl. Mix in the water.

Now to cook this dough, you'll put the bowl on high for 6 minutes. Take it out and stir it. The contents will be really hot, so be careful.

After you've stirred it, put it back in the microwave for another 6 minutes. Once it's finished the second time, take it out again and stir it.

Now return it to the microwave and cook it one last time for 3 minutes. The glutinous rice dough is now finished. Take it out and stir it occasionally until the dough is warm.

To prepare the filling, toast the medium desiccated coconuts until lightly brown and fragrant. Do the same with the sesame seeds. Allow both the toasted coconut and sesame seeds to cool off. Then using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush the toasted sesame seeds to bring out the flavour and then add the sesame into a bowl. Alternatively, you can just use the back of a spoon to crush it in the bowl. Mix in the brown sugar with the sesame seeds, desiccated coconut and salt. Adjust to taste. Now in another bowl, add about half a cup of the fine desiccated coconut and set aside. The amount doesn't matter, because you'll probably need more.

Once the dough has cooled off, everything is ready to be assembled. Grab some cling film large enough to cover your hand. Using flavourless oil, add a bit and spread it on one side so that the sticky glutinous rice dough doesn't stick. Some people like using plastic disposable kitchen gloves, but we prefer the plastic wrap method.

You'll want to grab about a tablespoon of the cooked glutinous rice dough and then flatten it into a circle or oval. Add the filling into the middle. Then using the plastic wrap, seal the filling in and then form into a ball. Roll the ball in the fine coconut and then place into a muffin cup. Repeat until you're done.

- Since the ratio of the filling changes with our mood, we don't have exact measurements. The ratio is an approximation. But with everything that you cook, we recommend that you adjust it to your taste.
- For the filling, you can also use toasted ground peanuts with brown sugar.
- Do you prefer the dough to be sweeter? You can use 1 cup of sugar instead of only 3/4 cup.
- If you want to make the snowballs smaller, like what we made at the top of this post, you can use a teaspoon of the glutinous rice dough instead of a tablespoon.
- You can use the glutinous rice dough recipe to make Filipino palitaw

The fragrant filling, that our family loves, contains toasted coconut, toasted sesame seeds and brown sugar.

The dough will look similar to this after the first 6 minutes in the microwave.

Time to assemble! I accidentally put this in the coconut before the filling. No prob. We were making small ones too, so we used a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon.

Step 1: Take about tablespoon of the cooked glutinous rice and flatten into an oval.

Step 2: Generously top the cooked glutinous rice oval.

Step 3: Seal the middle, seal the ends, then form into a ball.

Step 4: Roll the balls in finely shredded coconut. Mmm.. that's not a ball. 

Step 5: Quality assurance. Aw, yeah!

There it is. Another rare recipe on the blog. If you do try out the recipe, please let us know how it turned out! What would your favourite filling be?

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