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Glutinous Blackberry Lemon Coconut Balls

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Aromatic blackberry lemon coconut balls

Aromatic blackberry lemon coconut balls

I know precious little about Chinese desserts, but one I do know and love is the Chinese sesame ball.

There's something wonderful about them, especially when they're hot right off the grill, deep fryer, or stove. They are chewy with a crunchy exterior and filled with sweet red bean paste, which is somewhat like chocolate but somehow richer and earthier.

The basic idea of sesame balls is ridiculously easy: just make the dough, fill it with your filling, and then fry them. Sure, it is more complicated than that, and you do need to pay attention to the consistency of the dough/batter, but the fundamental idea is wonderfully simple.

The recipe is easy to modify, as well. For the past several weeks, I've been trying to deal with a huge surplus of blackberries. I made a lot of blackberry jam, but then there is the question of what to do with the jam.

One of my ideas for the jam is using it in Chinese sesame balls. I decided to combine the jam with lemon zest, and then substitute coconut for the traditional sesame seed coating. The results were delectable.

This recipe is entirely my own.


  • 1 pound glutinous rice flour
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • shredded coconut, for coating
  • 1/2 cup blackberry jam


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and boiling water and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Don't use too much water at this stage, since you can add in more water later on, but you can't take water out!
  2. Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Grate in the lemon zest and stir it together; then add in the syrup. Mix to make a sticky but malleable dough, using your hands or a wooden spoon.
  3. Break off golf ball-sized chunks of dough, round them into balls, and make an indentation. Use a spoon to put some of the blackberry jam filling into this, then either fold the rest of the dough back over the top, or put a patch of dough on it. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
  4. Pour the shredded coconut out on parchment paper, then put some water in a bowl. Soak the dough balls in the water, then roll the balls in the coconut. Repeat until all of the balls are covered in coconut.
  5. In a wok or a deep fryer, add enough oil to at least mostly cover the blackberry balls when they are added. Heat the oil to a temperature such that when the dough balls are added, the oil bubbles aggressively.
  6. Fry the blackberry balls, in batches if necessary, until they are golden brown on the exterior, perhaps around 10 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  7. These are best enjoyed while hot or warm, but they can also be eaten over several following days.