Baked Mickey-Shaped Red Bean Sesame Balls
It’s time for another Mickey-shaped rendition of one of my favorite childhood treats: red bean sesame balls!
These delicious gooey rice balls of goodness are so tasty and are a perfect dessert to finish off a filling dim sum meal...or just to eat as a snack! Sesame rice balls are traditionally deep-fried, so of course, me being me, I decided to try out a baked version instead!
Though my favorite filling for sesame balls is red bean, they also can be found with mung bean paste filling as well (this is more commonly Vietnamese-styled). Both are super yummy, so you can’t go wrong with either one!
So let’s jump in!
This recipe is actually very simple ingredients-wise! All you’ll need is some mochiko flour, water, red bean paste, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and sweetener of choice (I’m using monkfruit sweetener, but sugar works just fine).
For the red bean paste, you can choose to either purchase readymade red bean paste from your local grocery store, or you can choose to make your own using dried red beans. The same goes for the sesame seeds: you can purchase toasted sesame seeds or you can toast them yourself at home!
I should also clarify that the red beans used in this recipe are adzuki/azuki beans, not to be mistaken with red kidney beans. You can tell the difference between them visually as azuki beans are smaller and red kidney beans are, well, kidney shaped! If you want to substitute azuki beans with kidney beans, it's possible, but you may want to incorporate more sugar/sweetener in your paste because azuki beans have a natural sweetness to them that kidney beans do not. But if you can, I would suggest using azuki beans.
The Baking Process
If you choose to purchase pre-made red bean paste, you’ll have an even easier time with this recipe since everything basically just needs to be mixed together and wrapped! BUT if you’re like me and want to make your own paste, either because you just want to or because you want to control the sweetness, this recipe will take quite a bit longer. The red bean paste process actually takes the longest amount of time with this whole recipe.
First, you’ll need to prepare your beans the night before you want to use them by soaking them in water. The longer you leave them in water the better to rehydrate the beans and make them easier to cook. Then you’ll need to simmer the beans for around an hour until they’re mashable before adding in your sweetener and stirring until almost all the liquid is evaporated and you’re left with your paste. I added ¼ cup of monkfruit sweetener and the paste was very lightly sweetened, which was to my liking. If you like a bit of a sweeter paste, you should add a little more and you can taste it along the way. Keep in mind that the sesame ball dough doesn’t contain any sugar so it will not be sweet.
When the paste is finished you can refrigerate it until it’s time to use it.
As for the sesame seeds, the process of toasting them is also very simple. You’ll place them in a pan and stir them over medium to medium-high heat until they turn golden brown. You can continue doing this until it reaches the color you desire. And as an added benefit, the seeds give off such a yummy aroma as they’re toasting!
Now onto the mochiko dough. I consistently run into issues when I’m making dough with mochiko flour. I somehow always find myself in a vicious cycle of water, flour, water, flour until I’ve essentially overworked my dough and struggle to get myself to the right dough consistency. Don’t be like me. Start off with less water and add on as you’re mixing to make sure you don’t add too much water that makes the dough too liquid-like that it doesn’t hold its structure. When I first mixed in my water I thought the dough was too dry and added more water, but I think I was not patient enough and didn’t initially mix enough to incorporate the water. I also find it much easier to mix your dough well if you use your hands. I tried to avoid this at first by using a fork, but it’s just not the same. Use your hands, it’s worth it.
So after I finally got myself out of the vicious cycle and had a workable dough, I split it into 8 equal parts. From here I split each piece further so that I could make Mickey shapes, but if you’re only interested in making sesame balls, splitting into 8 is enough. Of course, you can adjust this to whatever size balls you want. After rolling them up and flattening them, I rolled up a scoop of red bean paste, placed it in the center, and wrapped it up!
Now it’s time to boil them! After getting a pot of water boiling you’ll want to cook each ball for about 2 minutes. If you have any shapes that might detach (I lost a Mickey ear on one of them) you should use a spoon to gently place the pieces into the water. Otherwise you can drop ‘em in. When you scoop the balls out of the water, transfer them to a bowl of cold water. This will help reduce the sliminess that coats the outside.
And voila! A dim sum favorite, but baked and Disney-fied!
So as I mentioned, I definitely think I overworked the dough because of my impatience, so these particular sesame balls came out somewhat dense. The red bean paste was yummy and not too sweet. However, because the mochi dough itself is not sweetened, as I mentioned before, this treat is definitely on the lesser sweet side of the spectrum. If you're looking for a sweeter version, I would suggest adding more sugar to the red bean paste and maybe adding a teaspoon or two to the dough. If you add sugar to the dough you may need just a little bit more water depending on how much sugar you are adding. So be careful. (Sorry, I'm paranoid now)
As with most foods, they have the best taste and texture when they’re eaten fresh, but you can always refresh them using a moist napkin and a microwave if you refrigerate them and have them later.
Baked Mickey-Shaped Red Bean Sesame Balls
Red bean paste (or purchase premade red bean paste)
ºoº ¼ cup dried red beans (azuki)
ºoº 4 cups water
ºoº ¼ cup monkfruit sweetener (or sweetener of choice)
ºoº 3.5 oz mochiko flour
ºoº 80 ml water
ºoº ¼ tsp sesame oil
Red bean paste
Soak the red beans in 1 cup of water overnight
Drain the red beans and simmer over medium heat with 3 cups of water for 1 hour until the beans can be easily mashed
Add ¼ cup of monkfruit sweetener and stir until a paste is formed
Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paste and refrigerate until ready to use
Add the sesame seeds to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until the sesame seeds are golden brown and toasted
Mix together the mochiko flour and water
Mix in the sesame oil
Split the dough into 8 pieces
Roll out each piece into a ball and flatten, then add a scoop of red bean paste to the center and seal
After all the balls are completed, boil a pot of water and add each ball into the pot to boil for 2 minutes
Transfer each ball into a bowl of cold water after it’s finished boiling
Preheat the oven to 250F
Drain each piece and cover in toasted white sesame seeds
Bake for roughly 7-8 minutes until lightly golden brown (adjust to preference)
ºoº You can adjust the amount of sweetener in the red bean paste to your taste depending on how sweet you like it. The dough is not sweetened, so if you want a sweeter dessert, you may want to add more to the paste
ºoº To get the right dough consistency you may want to keep some extra mochiko flour or water handy. But BEWARE of the vicious cycle. It’s better to have drier dough that you need to add a little bit of moisture to than wet dough that you need to make drier
ºoº Toasting the sesame seeds is optional, but adds a nice toasty flavor
ºoº Once the sesame balls are boiled and coated with sesame seeds they’re ready to eat! The baking portion is an added benefit of giving them a golden brown color and crunchier outside
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