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Coconut Balls

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This recipe for coconut balls uses glutinous rice flour – also called sticky rice flour – which is available at Chinese supermarkets. Made with adzuki beans, red bean paste is also available at Chinese markets.

This recipe makes 10 coconut rice balls and can easily be doubled to make 20. Red bean paste makes a nice filling because it’s quite malleable but feel free to experiment with other fillings if desired – a combination of crushed peanuts and brown sugar, or a mixture of softened butter, coconut and sugar would both be good choices.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes, or as needed
  • 5 tablespoons sweet red bean paste, or as needed
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons brown sugar, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup boiling water, or as needed*
  • Water to boil the coconut balls, as needed

Preparation:

Directions for Coconut Balls:
1. Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet and set aside. Take a heaping teaspoon of red bean paste (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) and roll into a ball. Roll in the brown sugar if using. Continue until you have 10 balls. Cover and set aside while preparing the dough.
2. Place the glutinous rice flour in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk, using a fork to stir it into the flour.
3. Slowly add the boiled water, using the fork to stir it in. Knead the flour for at least 1 minute (more kneading makes the balls more chewy). Then add more boiling water, 1 tablespoon or less at a time, working and shaping the dough until it has a texture similar to playdough – not too soft but easy to manipulate. (Note: Glutinous rice flour can be a bit tricky to work with – at first it looks too dry and the next thing you know the dough is sticking to your hands because you’ve added too much water. If that happens, add a bit more glutinous rice flour. On the other hand, if the dough is too dry, add more boiled water, a small amount at a time.
4. Roll the dough into a 10-inch log.
5. To fill the coconut balls: Cut off a 1-inch piece of dough. (Cover the remainder of the dough with a damp towel or wrap in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out while you are preparing the coconut balls). Roll into a ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand, so you have a 2 - 2 1/2 inch circle. Place a red bean paste ball into the center and gently fold the dough over. (To make it easier, flatten the red bean paste and spread it out a bit without coming too close to the edges).
6. Gently squeeze the dough and form back into a ball, rolling with your hands. Continue with the remainder of the dough.
7. Place the coconut balls in the boiling water. Use cooking chopsticks or a turner to move the balls occasionally so that they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook on medium-high heat (6 to 7 on the stovetop dial) until the balls rise and are floating on the top (about 6 1/2 to 7 minutes).
8. Roll the balls in the coconut (cooking chopsticks are excellent for this if you have them). Eat the coconut balls the same day. Enjoy!

*The amount of water needed can vary quite a bit depending on the the humidity level where you live and the age of the flour.

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