Cabbage Dessert Dumplings

CabbageDumpling_cover

Hello, and happy Groundhog Day! NPR says that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning, so fingers crossed for spring!

Can you believe that it’s already February? I grabbed lunch with a friend yesterday, and she told me that February means that the year has finally truly begun. After all, if 2016 was a product, January would be the 30 (+1) day free trial, but February would be the proper start. I like that – fresh month, fresh year, fresh start…again!

In other news, Sunday marks the start of my favorite food holiday of the year – Chinese New Year. Thanksgiving’s got nothing on 15 days of blissful gastronomic festivities. So naturally, I was incredibly excited about sharing all the dreams of fanciful treats that have been dancing in my head since January began and it was officially almost-Chinese New Year.

Except…

Turns out, traditional Chinese desserts are not always the most photogenic especially if you are sad and moldless because Amazon Prime 2 day shipping has failed you. So instead of sharing a traditional treat, I turned to the treasure trove that is the Chinese blogosphere to bring you the world’s cutest steamed dessert dumplings.

CabbageDumpling_steamed
One of the sole cabbage-y survivors of extensive steam time troubleshooting.

All cuteness aside, if I were you, I’d be wondering if I’ve finally gone off the deep end with the whole cabbage thing, but I assure you (or hypothetical me as you?) that there’s a method to the madness! Aside from my apparent fixation with cabbage-y desserts (fun fact of the day – “choux” is French for “cabbage” because back in the day, cream puffs looked like cabbages to some French pastry chef…probably the great grandfather of the guy who thought religieuse looked like nuns), the word for “cabbage” in some Chinese dialects kind of sounds like “financial prosperity,” and thus one of the world’s greatest visual puns was born. So, since cabbage-shaped decorations are enormously rampant in Chinese establishments as lucky charms (because no one doesn’t like not being broke), and since punny foods are enormously rampant in Chinese New Year dinners in general, cabbage dessert dumplings (not to be confused with dumplings containing actual cabbages) are basically the sugary epitome of all that is Chinese New Year.

Rambling, long-winded explanations aside, hope you enjoy!

恭喜发财,
Anne


Cabbage Dessert Dumplings

Adapted from 豆果美食
Makes 16-22 dumplings

Ingredients:

Dumpling Skins:
160 g (1 1/4 cup) wheat starch, plus more for kneading and rolling
160 ml (2/3 cup) boiling water
1/2 tsp green food coloring gel

Filling:
4 oz dried skinless mung beans (find them at your local Asian grocery store!)
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/6 tsp jasmine flavoring extract (or up to 1/4 tsp of any other flavoring extract)

Directions:

Dumpling Dough:

  1. Sift the wheat starch using a fine mesh sieve.
  2. Add boiling water to wheat starch all at once and stir rapidly with a fork or chopstick until well mixed.
    Tip: Make sure the water is boiling or just-boiled! If the water is too cool, the starch will not scaled and the dough will not thicken and form properly.
  3. Divide the dough roughly in half and knead one of the halves well until smooth. Form into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and set aside.
  4. Add the food coloring gel to the other half and knead with additional wheat starch until the color is evenly distributed and the consistency resembles that of the white dough ball.
    Tip: To avoid white spots in the dough, sift the wheat starch before adding it to the dough. But, if there are still a few white speckles in the dough when you’re done, it’s not a big deal.
  5. Form the green dough into a ball, wrap, and set aside until you are reading to roll out the dumpling skins.

Filling:

  1. Soak mung beans in water for at least 3 (or no more than 12) hours, changing the water every 1-2 hours.
  2. Place the drained mung beans into a pot and add water until the beans are just covered (about 1/2 cup). Cover the pot and heat the mixture on medium.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, uncover and simmer on low heat until nearly all of the water has evaporated and the beans are soft and easily mashed, stirring every couple of minutes.
  4. Transfer the beans into a food processor, add sugar and jasmine extract, and blend until smooth.
  5. Set the filling aside in an uncovered bowl.
    Tip: We want this filling to be as dry as possible while still holding together! If possible, use a large bowl and spread the filling around to allow the top surface to dry slightly as the moisture evaporates.

Assembly and Steaming:

  1. Roll out the white dough into a uniform cylinder about 16″ long.
    Tip: To make sure the diameter of your dough cylinder stays roughly uniform, start by forming a short, stout cylinder. Gently roll the cylinder like Play-Doh along a rolling board with your palms from the center toward the ends, gradually elongating until the cylinder is the right length.
  2. Roll out the green dough into a large rectangle about 16″ long. The width of the rectangle should be a little bigger than the circumference of the white cylinder.
    Tip: To make the next step a bit easier, try to make the long edges of the rectangle slightly thinner than the centers. If you are looking at the rectangle along the short edge, the dough should be lightly tapered on either end.
  3. Place the white cylinder in the center of the green rectangle so that its ends line up with the length of the rectangle.
  4. Wrap the ends of the rectangle around the cylinder and pinch along the long edge to seal shut.
  5. Gently roll the double layered cylinder along the rolling board to smooth out the sealed edge. When you are done, the side of your cylinder should look like a dartboard with a white interior circle and a green exterior circle.
  6. Cut the cylinder into 3/4 to 1″ segments, taking care to maintain the concentric circles on either face of your shorter pieces.
    Tip: To preserve the cross-section, use a sharp knife with a smooth edge! Instead of pressing down and slicing all at once, gently saw the blade back and forth until you have cut all the way through. Don’t worry too much about whether your slices stay perfectly round – you’ll get a chance to fix them when you roll them out. This is what my slices looked like:
    CabbageDumpling_roll
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll out the cylinders into large, flat concentric circles about 1/16″ in thickness and set aside.
    Tip: As needed, dust the rolling pin and your fingers with a THIN layer of wheat starch. Try not to use any more than you absolutely need to maintain a dry surface. But, don’t worry about a slight dusting of white powder on the greens of your dumpling skins. The starch turns clear after the dumplings are cooked, so your cabbage leaves will still look green and speckle-free!
  8. Form the dumplings into little cabbages:
    Tip: Follow the arrows on the pictures! The pictures show what you should have by the end of the step, and any arrows show how to get to the next step. For example, the arrows in the photo immediately after step 3 show how to fold the skin as described in step 4 to get to the result in the photo immediately after step 4.

    1. Gently press down along the edges of the dumpling skin to form a thin, tapered edge.
      CabbageDumpling_assembly1
    2. Place a small amount (about 1/2 – 1 tsp) of filling in the center of a dumpling skin.
      CabbageDumpling_assembly2
    3. Pull up the edges of the skin to wrap the filling and form a 5-pointed star (red arrows in previous photo). Gently pinch the center of the star to hold the form.
      CabbageDumpling_assembly3
    4. Starting at one of the points of the star, gently separate the two edges to form a small open pouch (blue arrows) and secure the pouch in the open position by pulling down the center of the lip (yellow arrow) while gently pinching in the bottom (red arrow).
      CabbageDumpling_assembly4
    5. Repeat with all remaining points in the star.
      CabbageDumpling_assembly5
  9. Line a plate with parchment paper and place the raw dumplings along the surface of the plate, leaving gaps in between.
    Tip: For extra meta presentation, steam using cabbage leaves instead of parchment paper.
  10. Steam for 2-3 minutes, or until the skins have just turned clear and serve immediately. Enjoy!

CabbageDumpling_unsteamed

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