Sweet Rice Cake Balls with Black Sesame and Brown Sugar

Yesterday was the last day of Chinese New Year.  That was the end of 15 days’ celebration.  And sweet rice cake balls are a traditional festive dish to serve on this day.  They are round shape which symbolizes a better and more fortunate new year.  The sweetness of sweet rice cake balls represents a new year will go by smoothly without any trouble.

In the small southern town I am from, we serve sweet rice cake balls in sweet brown sugar and ginger soup.  The spiciness from the ginger root gives the whole dish an exotic flavor.  You will be surprised to taste how great brown sugar and ginger go together.

For sweet rice cake balls:

2 cups of sweet rice flour
3/4 cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon oil
2 teaspoons sugar

For black sesame fillings:

1 1/2 cups black sesame seeds
4 tablespoons honey
6 to 8 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (use more if you have a sweet tooth)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter


Ground black sesame is available in Asian grocery store.  But I always prefer to roast and grind the black sesame seeds  myself.   The aroma is so much stronger and the flavor is more intense.

For the soup:

1 small piece of ginger root
brown sugar to taste


Heat a cast iron skillet with black sesame seeds over medium low heat.  Stir occasionally until the seeds are fully toasted.

It might be hard to tell when they are done because they are all black.

There is a trick that you can add a teaspoon white sesame seeds.  When they turn slightly yellow, you know the seeds are perfectly toasted.

Add roasted black sesame seeds to a coffee grinder in two or three batches.  Grind them as finely as you can.  But don’t over grind because they might turn into sesame butter. 

Microwave the butter until it is melted.  Add ground sesame, honey and confectioner’s sugar.  Mix well.

Divide them into equal small pieces.  I got 26 pieces.  You can make them any size you want, just not too big.   Roll each of them into a sesame ball.  Refrigerate for over 1 hour or until they harden, which will make the next step so much easier. 

In a medium bowl, add sweet rice flour and sugar.  And then add oil and milk while whisk with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon.  When the flour starts to come together, knead with hands until it forms a sweet rice cake dough ball. 

Divide the dough into equal small pieces too, about the size of black sesame balls or a little bigger.

Press down one piece of dough.  Add black sesame ball to its center.

Wrap it up and roll into a ball again.  When you are working on the cake balls, remember to cover the rest with plastic wrap.  It is normal that sweet rice cake balls fall apart during the process because sweet rice flour has no gluten at all.

Repeat the process until all are done.

Cook the sweet rice balls in boiling water seasoned with sliced ginger and brown sugar until they float.

Serve immediately. 

This is definitely one of my favorite sweet rice cakes.  The nutty, fruity and strong sesame aroma becomes the star in this dish.  And the sweetness from honey, confectioner’s sugar and brown sugar just complete it.

If you don’t like ginger and brown sugar soup, it is ok to serve in them plain.  They taste great too. O(∩_∩)O~