Chinese sweet dumplings ‘tang yuan'(汤圆) – raspberry pink, in a ginger, cinnamon and honey syrup (gluten free, vegan)

Posted on Updated on

‘Tang yuan’, or the glutinous rice balls in syrup, were sometimes offered as a complementary dessert at Chinese restaurants. My husband always puzzled, why people liked these dull looking, doughy, boringly sweet and tasteless stuff.

Good point. As much ‘tang yuan’ is well loved by the Chinese community for its symbolic meaning of family and its reunion, it is not an exciting dish, not until it became a fusion dish anyway.

My ‘tang yuan’ were colored by raspberry coulis; some were filled with red bean paste and some were just small and plain. The syrup was infused with a cinnamon stick, cardamom,  ginger and orange peel, with brown sugar for color and a dash of honey for extra flavor. I really hope my husband would like them; and then he said, ‘they were okkkk’. Grrrrrrr!

Chinese sweet dumplings 'tang yuan'(汤圆) - raspberry pink, in a ginger, cinnamon and honey syrup (gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:


Raspberry coulis (you can skip this step and use 1/2 cup of hot water and a drop of coloring)

  • 1 cup of frozen raspberry
  • 1/2 cup of caster sugar
  • a little water

Tang yuan balls

  • 1 cup of glutinous rice flour
  • 3-4 tbsp of red bean paste


  • 2 slices of ginger
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 12 cloves
  • 2 cardamom, broken up slightly
  • 2 pieces of orange peels
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • a dash of honey (quantity as-you-please, I use 2 tbsp)



In a sauce pan, add 2 cup of water, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange peels and brown sugar; bring to boil; then turn off the heat and let the syrup infuse slowly.

Raspberry coulis

  • Place frozen raspberries in a sauce pan, add 1/2 cup caster sugar and a small dash of water; close the lid and bring it to boil; simmer briefly; use a potato mash, mash up the raspberries; extract the liquid with a sieve.
  • Reheat the coulis in a clean sauce pan, bring it to boil, add a little more water to thin it out if necessary.
  • We will need about 1/2 cup of coulis.


  • In a mixing bowl, place glutinous rice flour; add 1/2 cup hot raspberry coulis gradually, stirring towards one direction to form a dough; add a little more syrup, or flour as needed.
  • Leave it aside to cool briefly, a minute or so.
  • Bring the dough together, by kneading with your hands.
  • Turn the dough into a snake, cut into 12-16 pieces.
  • Press a piece into a disc, place some red bean paste in the middle, roll it up into a ball; with the palm of one hand, roll it over a chopping board in circular motion, until the ball is round.
  • Repeat with some more balls, with or without filling, as you please. For the balls without filling, try to make them a lot smaller to avoid tasting doughy.


  • Bring the syrup to boil again; add honey, stir; make sure there is enough syrup to cover all the balls; add the rice balls; bring to boil again and turn the heat down to low-medium; the rice balls are done once they are floating on top of the syrup; I would leave them to cook for further 3 more minutes otherwise the balls would be too doughy.
  • Serve warm, with syrup.
Red bean paste
Red bean paste
Making raspberry coulis
Making raspberry coulis
Making raspberry coulis
Making raspberry coulis


Boiling the rice balls
Boiling the rice balls





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s