Warm, luscious chocolate sesame balls, made with rice flour and dark chocolate coated in sesame seeds and deep-fried, is a traditional Chinese dessert. Think Chinese profiteroles.
These chocolate sesame balls are what I call my naughty but nice Chinese-style profiteroles. In this recipe, glutinous rice flour is used to make a snug casing for pieces of dark chocolate molded into a ball shape. The balls are coated in fragrant sesame seeds and then deep-fried. They expand and turn golden brown and the sesame seeds toast in the oil, giving a crunchy outer crust, while the chocolate inside melts. And if that’s not enough, melted chocolate is poured over—the ultimate grand finale! For chocolate lovers, this is a must-try recipe. So, forget the traditional Chinese red bean paste filling and hands up for dark chocolate.–Ching-He Huang
LC GLUTINOUS & GLUTEN-FREE NOTE
Just to set things straight, this recipe calls for glutinous rice flour, also known as sweet rice flour or mochikio, although due to some quirk or some schmuck at some point in the history of words, it actually doesn’t contain gluten nor is it sweet. Confusing, yes? The term “glutinous” simply refers to the flour’s stickiness when combined with liquid, which actually does stand to reason given that the flour is derived from sticky rice, which you’ve probably seen on menus—or, we hope, experienced firsthand—at Thai restaurants. Do not substitute anything labeled rice flour without the word sweet or mochiko or glutinous. Now, what to do with the rest of the package? Grab a Thai or Chinese cookbook and flip to the handmade noodles or the dessert chapters and report back to us so we can try that recipe, too, cuz at least one of us [Editor’s Note: Me!] keeps it as a staple in her pantry and is always curious to try something new.
Chocolate Sesame Balls
- 2 cups glutinous rice flour
- 1/3 cup brown sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons boiling water in a bowl
- 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons cold water
- 4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into 24 pieces
- 3 ounces white sesame seeds
- 3 cups oil for deep frying
- 4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- Strawberries or cape gooseberries (optional)
- Dump the rice flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
- In a smaller bowl, stir together the sugar and boiling water until it has dissolved. Pour it into the well in the rice flour and add the cold water. Combine to make a dough and then knead in the bowl or on a work surface dusted very lightly with rice flour for 5 minutes, shaping it into a ball.
- Dust your hands with some rice flour and shape the dough into 12 balls, each of which is roughly the size of golf balls.
- Holding a dough ball in 1 hand, use the thumb of the other and make a hole in the dough to form a cup. Press 2 pieces chocolate, 1 on top of the other, in the hole and gather the edges of the dough together to encase the chocolate and seal the dough. Do this with each blob of dough, then roll each of the blobs in your hands until it is perfectly round, then roll the ball in the sesame seeds.
- In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over but not touching a pot of barely simmering water, break the second piece of chocolate into pieces and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to melt. Once melted do not stir again, but leave it over the hot water until you are ready to serve.
- Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or wok to 350°F (175°C), or until a tiny piece of the dough browns in 15 seconds. Carefully deep fry the sesame seed balls, a few at a time, until the sesame seeds turn golden brown and the balls start to float to the surface, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Once cooked, place the sesame balls on a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm with the melted chocolate poured over or passed on the side. If you wish, you can cut open one of the balls on each serving plate and place a strawberry or cape gooseberry in the bed of chocolate.
Originally published July 30, 2006