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Black Sesame and Peanut Tang Yuan 芝麻花生湯圓

Black Sesame and Peanut Tang Yuan 芝麻花生湯圓

It’s never a bad time to make Tang Yuan. This is a sweet version, stuffed with Dong He Black Sesame Paste and chopped peanuts, with dough colored naturally using Red Dragonfruit Juice.

The concept is fairly simple: You make filling balls out of fat, sugar and nut butters, then freeze them solid. Wrap an elastic glutinous rice dough (made chewier and more workable with the help of a ban ma) around the frozen filling, and cook. When heated, the oil and fat in the filling becomes molten, so when you bite into the dumpling, a delicious lava oozes out.

Black Sesame and Peanut Filled Tang Yuan

Serves: about 10 servings or 35-40 dumplings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


Black Sesame Filling

  • 3 Tbsp Dong He black sesame paste
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 2.5 Tbsp butter, softened

Peanut Sesame Filling

  • 3 Tbsp crushed, roasted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 2.5 Tbsp butter, softened

White Dough

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • ½ cup warm water

Pink Dough

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • ½ cup room temperature water
  • half a red dragon fruit
  • another 1/4 cup of water for the dragonfruit juice

Sweet Ginger Soup

  • 1 2 inch piece of ginger, sliced thinly
  • 3/4 rock sugar
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2-3 red jujubes (optional)


Make the filling first, since it needs to rest in the freezer. This can be done the day before.

  1. Mash the black sesame paste with the butter and turbinado sugar until incorporated.
  2. Put the mixture into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to harden. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Scoop out about a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball and place it on the parchment paper. You should be able to get roughly 20 balls. Freeze.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the peanut mixture.

Make the soup:

  1. Put ginger, rock sugar and 6 cups of water into a sauce pan. Add jujubes if using.
  2. Bring to a boil, stir, and lower the heat to just below a simmer. Steep and keep warm while making the tang yuan.

Make the dough:

  1. First make the dragonfruit juice, which will be used to add color to one of the doughs. Blend half a dragonfruit with about 1/4 of water until smooth. Strain juice through a sieve to remove pulp and seeds. Set aside and let it come to room temperature.
  2. Place the glutinous rice flour in a mixing bowl. Slowly add in the dragonfruit juice while mixing. The dough should not be wet or sticking to the bowl or your hands. If it is too wet, sprinkle a bit more glutinous rice flour and knead until smooth. You want a dough that feels a dry, that cleaves like a piece of chalk, you'll be adding more moisture later.
  3. Now to make the Ban Ma, a crucial step to make a chewy dough: Cover and rest the dough while you bring a pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, pinch off a piece of the dough, roughly around 1” sized ball. If you’re doubling the recipe, you could flatten this into a disc so it cooks evenly.
  4. When the water is boiling, pinch off a piece of the dough, roughly around 1” sized ball. Flatten it into a disc, add it into the water and cook until it floats to the surface.
  5. Remove the cooked ball of dough and knead it back in with the uncooked dough. This is gonna get sticky and feel unnatural if it's your first time, but just knead and believe. If, after 5 minutes, the dough is still very wet, add a bit more starch to even things out. Knead until the dough is soft and smooth (like a baby’s butt, as they say).
  6. Repeat above steps for the white dough, using room temperature water instead of dragonfruit juice. Be sure to keep all dough covered with a damp cloth while you work, so they don't dry out.
  7. Divide the dough into 20 pieces and roll them into balls. Keep these covered as well, to prevent drying.
  8. Remove frozen fillings from the freezer (do this in batches so they don't melt while you're working.
  9. Using your fingers, flatten one dough ball into a rounded disc and wrap it around the frozen filling ball. Fold over the edges of the dough to enclose the filling inside. If it cracks just use your fingers to gently pinch together the dough. Then roll the tang yuan between the palms of your hand to produce an even sphere. Repeat process until all the tang yuan are filled.
  10. To cook, Bring 6 cups of water to boil. Gently lower the tang yuan into the boiling water. When the water comes to a boil again, add a cup of cool water. Repeat this step 2 more times, or until the Tang Yuan float. When the dumplings float, they're done.
  11. To serve, ladle a bit of ginger soup into a bowl. Gently transfer 4 tang yuan into the bowl. Add more soup if desired.

Recipe by: Lisa Cheng Smith
Image Credit: Lisa Cheng Smith