01/20/2012 01:54 EST | Updated 03/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Lunar New Year: Chinese Golden Balls With Walnut Paste (RECIPE)

Celebrate Chinese New Year, which begins Monday, and enjoy this dish of traditional golden balls. When they're warm, you can truly taste the rich, savoury flavour of sweet walnut paste.

If desired, you can make them a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate, then refry golden balls up to 2 hours before serving.

Chinese Golden Balls

Sweet Walnut Paste

250 ml (1 cup) toasted and finely ground walnuts (see directions)

30 ml (2 tbsp) honey

15 ml (1 tbsp) condensed milk

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) salt

Glutinous Rice Dough

750 ml (3 cups) glutinous rice flour

125 ml (1/2 cup) raw white sesame seeds

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) water

125 ml (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar

Oil, for frying

In a large dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally until lightly brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool and grind until fine consistence.

Golden Balls: In a medium bowl, combine toasted walnuts, honey, condensed milk and salt to form a thick paste. Roll paste into 1-cm (1/2-inch) round balls. Set aside.

Glutinous Rice Dough: Place rice flour in a medium bowl and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, place water and brown sugar and heat on medium-high until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and gently pour into rice flour and stir to incorporate until a pliable dough is formed. Knead dough with your hands a few times and roll into a ball.

Cut ball in half and roll each half into a 25-cm (10-inch) log. Slice each log into 10 pieces and roll pieces into balls.

Take 1 ball and form a well with your fingers. Place a walnut paste ball in well and pinch dough back together so that the dough envelopes the walnut paste. Roll into a ball. Lightly wet ball with water and roll in sesame seeds. Repeat steps until you have made 20 balls.

Pour enough oil into a deep-fyer or deep heavy-bottomed pot to come at least 7.5 cm (3 inches) up the side of pot. Heat to 160 C (325 F).

In batches of 4, gently drop balls into deep fryer. After 2 minutes, gently squeeze balls with wooden chopsticks or a slotted spoon to help them expand. Turn them frequently to brown evenly, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let rest on a tray lined with a paper towel.

Serve warm.

Makes 20 balls.

Nutritional information per serving (1 ball): 259 calories; 3 g protein; 16 g fat (2 g saturated fat); 27 g carbohydrate; 1 g fibre; 18 mg sodium.

Source: California Walnuts,