Sesame jewels. The Chinatown treat home-made.

Let’s continue with the Chinese festivities for Lunar New Year, click here for many ideas).
Now, 芝麻球 , zhimaqiu, pearls with sesame. Hot, golden, crispy, and the inside sweet and melting. Everybody buys them it seems. But they are really quick and simple to make. Also you will know what they are made of.

The inside is boiled azuki beans mixed with sugar (here kurozato black sugar), mashed with a fork.
The dough is made of mochiko, and you can also use shiratamako, both are processed glutinous rice flour. You really need this ingredient, or an equivalent, and not ordinary rice floor. (read here about these rice flours)
Add enough lukewarm water to obtain a sort of playdo.

Then shape the balls and roll them in sesame seeds.

Then fry about 5~8 minutes in oil at about 160 degrees Celsius.

Freshly made. They have to be served hot.
They are not as perfectly round as those you buy, but you’d solve that as doing like they do at the stalls : taking them out of the freezer into the oil. They hold their shape… I don’t think that’s necessary.

So you have a crispy thin crust around, soft white dough and creamy filling.

Enjoy with jasmine tea.

Pon de rin, donut like a ring of pearls, baked version

A ring of ball cakes, sweetened with kurozato black sugar.

The fast-food Mr Donut sells those pon de rin. The mean is “pon” like pao de queijo, shaped in ring… and donutifried, of course.

The dough was nearly the same as :

pao de queijo (click here)

But I used 1/3 of cheese and added kurozato (black sugar).

I formed the rings on baking paper. Painted oil all around. Baked 20 minutes. Passing oil 2 or 3 times during that time.

With confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon.

Pão de queijo, draft

I tried to make pão de queijo the Japan…er, I mean Brazilian cheese ball cakes. Yes, we find them in bakeries here in Japan, in some modified version. Without cheese, or it’s tasteless invisible-to-tastebud cheese.

Cheese, egg and shiratamako. I had that Greek cheese, very strong. I should have used tapioca flour, for Brazilian version. I’ve read those we had here were made of a rice flour like shiratamako (that is processed, like dried mochi).
But but… I started and found I had not enough of this. So I’ve added potato starch.
So roughly :
A : 50 g egg + 3 tbs water + 50 g shiratamako + 50 g potato starch
B : 4 tbs grated cheese

I mixed well the ingredients of A. Then added the cheese.

Formed balls. 2 with black sesame. 2 with chives.

Baked 25 minutes.

The taste is great, the best I’ve eaten. But they should be softer, like French gougere. They are too much like cake.

Wagashi saga. Full edition.

DSC01074-002mikan daifuku

The Japanese are sweet lovers. Now, all sorts of Western and Asian sweets can be found in big cities, and there are many talented bakers.

Wagashi means “Japanese sweets”, and it refers to the snack, usually sweet, served with tea. Eating desserts is not the custom. You eat lunch at 11~12 , then at 3 pm, you have a sweet with tea.

murasaki hanamame

The bulk of wagashi are made on a base of 2 ingredients : rice and azuki beans. And the artisans carve hundreds of refined designs -inspired by nature and seasonal events. So you may have the impression that they all taste the same and are only decorative. Actually, even in traditional shops, there exist many other flavors, sesame, roast soy beans, sweet potato, nuts, yuzu, chestnut, ume plum, cherry blossom, matcha, dry fruits, cassia cinnamon…
I have no ambition to compete in refinement of making with the famous shops. I have them on occasions, not too often as the quality ones are not cheap. Making my snacks is mostly a hobby and a way to avoid the supermarket range ones.
My home-made wagashi don’t always follow the traditional recipes, but I try to indicate when I adapt. Usually, I want mines to be less sweetened.


Sweet pastes
There are several sweet pastes called “an”.
“anko” the most common is made of red azuki beans. Other beans are used too, white for “shiro an”, and also red, yellow, black…
“kimi-an” is yellow and egg flavored. “kuri-an” is made with chestnut. Etc

Cooking azuki beans

Making anko (brown filling) from the beans. Tsubuan and koshian. Easy recipe.

Making kimi-an (yellow filling, with egg)

Rice, rice flour, processed rice flours

Making o-hagi, the basic wagashi (from rice)

Making daifuku mochi from mochiko (from mochi flour)

Making kashiwa-mochi (from joshinko rice flour)

Other flours

kuzu, kudzu :
warabi (bracken) :
warabi mochi
agar agar :

Home-made wagashi



Gold and Chestnut : kuri kinton

Kuri, the sweet (2nd style of kuri kinton)

Kinako-bo and mugi-cha

Polka-dot kabocha yokan

Making o-hagi

Mizu-yokan and nashi

After-Eight Daifuku Mochi

Choco-coco hari-nezumi



Azuki filled “sweet potato”


Ichigo daifuku mochi

Zenzai with yaki-mochi

Ginger kuzu-yu


choco-chip matcha-an daifuku

Tokoroten cherry…

Kimi-an dango, Japanese sweets like pearls of gold

Tamago-chan, cute egg wagashi



Lemon snow-flake mochi

Mochinnamon bun

Cubes of refreshment : heart-heaven in black sweetness


Okinawan mochi

warabi mochi (classic recipe)

ichigo-dama (strawberry pearls)


Setsubun (start of Spring festival)

Casual tea.

About wagashi and mochi from the shop… (Summer)

Yatsuhashi for sakura season (from the shop)

Assorted Spring wagashi (from the shop)

Kashiwa-mochi for Children Day, May 5th (from the shop)

okaki mochi

noshi mochi

Other dessert compilations :

Crazy and Healthy Sweets (compilation)

French desserts – Dessert francais (compilation)

Wagashi saga 1, mochiko : Sweet Potato dango

Let’s make the classic Japanese sweet dango (small rice balls). They can be served in different ways, on skewers or not, roasted or not, flavored/colored, with syrup, with anko (bean jam)…

I am going to present the different ingredients for wagashi (Japanese sweets).


It’s a white powder sold in Japanese grocery stores. You often see it as ingredient for making wagashi (Japanese sweets).

Is mochiko = rice flour ? In Japan, no (I can’t tell about exported products), not in the sense of milled rice grains. The standard rice flour is called “komeko”. You can’t substitute.

Wikipedia explanation of “mochiko

My translation :
Shiratamako (白玉粉), also called kanzarashi (寒晒し), mochiko もち粉 or kanshinjiko (観心寺粉) is a powder made from mochi-gome (white polished Japanese sticky rice).

Mochi-gome rice is rinsed, soaked one night, drained, and grinded while adding water. This “milk” is then dehydrated by pressure technique or sun-drying. It is used as an ingredient to make different wagashi (Japanese sweets), in particular shiratama-dango (white small balls). The texture of balls made with that ingredient is finer.

It is a very ancient Japanese processed product. It is made for dangos, not ideal for mochi (but that works). I think there are slight differences between the different named powders that results in nuances in taste and texture.

Today let’s have the dango balls with “Sweet Potato an”. This is not classic, not my invention either. Sweet potatoes are often called satsuma imo, “Sweet Potato” (= “suiito poteito”) the English term is the name of a sweet potato, buttered and vanilla flavored cake.

Here are the new sweet potatoes :

Steam one. Mash it (with the skin). Add a little butter and vanilla extract.

Dango recipe :

Measure 5g of shiratamako, or of mochiko per dango. So 30 g for a set of 6 of 2 cm diameter.
Prepare a glass of water. Progressively add water to the powder, just enough to form a paste. Kneed till you can get a ball that has the texture of your earlobe. Cut and form the balls by rolling them in your hand.

Drop the balls in boiling water. Boil 2 minutes. Tranfer in a cup of iced water to refresh.

Serve with the potato paste, and iced matcha.

6 dango + paste
Cal : 188.5 F4.2g C34.3g P2.2g

Wagashi Saga : Photo-menu of all Japanese sweet posts.