January 26, 2016

Chinese Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls 笑口棗

Chinese Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls 笑口棗

Balls, chinese, cookie, Laughing, laughing cookie, recipe, sesame, Smiling, smiling cookie, 笑口棗
By Published: 2016-01-26
It's almost time for the Chinese New Year 中國新年 and happy, plentiful thoughts of food, food, and even more delicious food are on my mind!  As anyone with proximity to Chinese culture will know, all things Chinese revolve around the copious consumption of all kinds of yummilicious foods.  Nom, nom, nom!!  We are going to celebrate the snack aspect of traditional Chinese New Year foods this time around and we start with the easy to make, delightfully addictive Chinese New Year favorite, Chinese Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls, or 笑口棗.  I'm sure you've seen these before, these little crisp sesame infused cookies can be bought everywhere during the Chinese New Year to munch on or to serve your CNY guests.  But I'll bet you've never had them homemade and fresh and I think you'll find they are waaaaay more delicious made at home than bought from any store.

Chocolate, macaroon, Macaron, recipe, ganache,  蛋白杏仁餅, 馬卡龍
Chocolate, macaroon, Macaron, recipe, ganache,  蛋白杏仁餅, 馬卡龍

The name of this chinese snack is so cute, Smiling Sesame Balls or Laughing Sesame Balls.  It comes from, I think, the way the dough ball cracks open when deep fried, thus resembling someone having a right jolly chuckle.  A happy thing to have in your house when the New Year rolls around, amiright?  This sesame cookie itself is super easy to make, the only maybe more tricky part is the deep frying which I was nervous about but turned out surprising easy as well.

Chocolate, macaroon, Macaron, recipe, ganache,  蛋白杏仁餅, 馬卡龍
Chocolate, macaroon, Macaron, recipe, ganache,  蛋白杏仁餅, 馬卡龍

After the dough is rested you need to roll the dough balls out.  I rolled mine out  to 3/4" inch balls but discovered that the dough, when fried, expands to more than twice the size which I found a bit bigger than what I wanted.  For a cookie ball that is just a biteful, I think that 1/2" inch is better.  It's up to you, any size of ball will do, just bear in mind that the dough will expand to 2-3 times the original size.

Chinese, Smiling, Sesame, Laughing,  Cookie, Balls, recipe, smiling cookie, laughing cookie,  笑口棗

You will find that the sesame cookie dough is quite a dryish dough and that when you roll in the sesame seeds, the seeds don't really stick too well to the dough.  To solve this problem, wet fingers with water and rub the dough balls until just lightly moistened all over.  Then, with your dry hand, roll the balls in sesame seeds, pressing the seeds in gently as you roll.  Ta-da!  Perfect sesame seed stick ons!

Chinese, Smiling, Sesame, Laughing,  Cookie, Balls, recipe, smiling cookie, laughing cookie,  笑口棗

Deep fry time!  My very first time to deep fry cookies, that's for sure.  But it turned out to be easy and fun and delicious.  The key to deep fry is keeping the right temperature if you want to achieve a light, crispy, non-greasy cookie ball.  The Smiling Sesame Cookie Ball needs to be deep fried at a slightly lower temperature so that the dough inside has enough time to cook through while the outside becomes a lovely golden color.  If you have a deep fry thermometer it is quite useful to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, making sure that it doesn't get too hot or cold.  When you fry at the right temperature the sesame balls are crisp and light, and totally yummilicious.  And you can watch as they start to smile!  Cool!

Chinese, Smiling, Sesame, Laughing,  Cookie, Balls, recipe, smiling cookie, laughing cookie,  笑口棗

Chinese Smiling Sesame Cookie Balls Recipe  笑口棗
(40-60 cookies)


2 1/2 cups low gluten cake* flour (300g)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar (160g)
3 tbsp hot water
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup white sesame seeds (120g)


Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together.  In separate bowl, stir sugar and hot water until dissolved.  Add 2 tbsp oil, egg and stir until mixed.  Pour wet into dry and stir until mixed, then knead into a dough.  If dough seems dry add extra oil, 1/2 tbsp at a time.  The dough should be pliant, and not stick to sides of the bowl.  Wrap in cling film and let rest in fridge for 40 mins.  

Roll into 1/2" (or 3/4") balls.  Pour sesame seeds into a plate.  Prepare a small saucer of water.  Dip fingers in water and lightly just moisten each dough ball before rolling in sesame seeds.  Gently press the seeds into dough.

In a small pot pour enough neutral tasting oil (vegetable oil or peanut oil) to cover the cookie balls.  Heat oil to 340F (170C).  Gently slide 6-8 sesame balls into oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pot.  The cookie balls will stay at the bottom for a little while, then float up by themselves.  Cook for 3-4 mins, turning the balls at intervals so that all sides are evenly browned.  When the sesame balls are a lovely golden color remove and set on paper towels to drain.  The sesame balls will crisp up as they cool.

Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Best when fresh, of course.

*Tip:  You can make your own cake flour if need be: take 2 tbsps flour out of a cup all purpose flour, add in  2 tbsps of cornstarch and stir thoroughly.  You now have 1 cup cake flour.


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