Sweet Potato Wagashi

001 S Potato Wagashi  edited re-sized

When my thoughts wonder to Wagashi, my mind is immediately filled with pleasure. They are best described as Japanese style desserts. However, this simple description doesn’t do them justice. They are dainty, artfully hand-crafted confections which reflect the changing seasons. Wagashi is most frequently served with that very special cuppa at a tea ceremony; and this ceremony in itself is steeped with centuries of tradition and artitsry.

My dear dear friend, Tomoko San, was tickled pink when I asked her to teach me to make wagashi. At that point in time, shops selling wagashi were non-existent in Singapore. It would have been something special to bring home this skill and to share the delights of a new culture. Tomoko San and 2 of her friends who had lived in Singapore in earlier years were my partners in crime. We met over a few weeks and made several types of wagashi which included kusa mochi, sakura mochi and inchigo daifuku.

It is not easy to obtain some wagashi ingredients in Singapore and I had used up my store of ingredients I had brought home. Hence, I found a recipe using Japanese sweet potato (satsuma imo) and some other ingredients that are usually found in our homes.

What a treat that you can make these delicious sweet bites in a few easy steps and participate in an age old tradition of a different culture!

Some Comments about the Ingredients

  • Sweet Potato. Mashed satsuma imo. Peel and boil them like potatoes and mash them whilst still warm.
  • Raw sugar or turbinado sugar. This gives a better flavour and colour.

Making the Sweet Potato Balls

STEP 1. In a medium size bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cream, milk, ginger juice  and vanilla paste. Stir to mix well and till sugar melts.

STEP 2. Pour this sweet cream mixture into the warm mashed sweet potato and knead with a silicon spatula to mix well.

STEP 3. Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter top. Divide the sweet potato mixture into 2 portions. Roll each portion into a log.

STEP 4. Wrap the plastic sheet tightly over each potato log and roll the covered log to tighten and smoothen each log for a more compressed compact log.

STEP 5. Slice each of the 4 logs into 6 slices each. Roll each slice into a ball.

Glazing and then Baking in the Oven

STEP 6. Line a backing sheet with baking paper. Place the sweet potato balls on the baking paper, at evenly spaced intervals. Brush with a mixture of beaten egg yolk and cream.

Place filled baking sheet into a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake for about 15 mins and the glaze turns golden brown.

RECIPE

Ingredients for the Sweet Potato Balls

  • 500 gm of mashed Japanese Sweet Potato
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 to 5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated ginger

Glaze

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp cream

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
  2. Wash and peel sweet potato. Slice into several slices. Either steam these slices for about 12 mins or place them into a pot, cover with just enough water and boil till they are cooked (fork tender and not mushy or broken). Drain and mash whilst still hot. Personally, I prefer to steam them.
  3. In a medium size bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cream, milk, ginger juice  and vanilla paste. Stir to mix well and till sugar melts.
  4. Pour this sweet cream mixture into then warm mashed sweet potato and knead with a silicon spatula to mix well
  5. Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter top. Divide the sweet potato mixture into 2 portions. Roll each portion into a log.
  6. Wrap the plastic sheet tightly over each potato log and roll the covered log to tighten and smoothen each log for a more compressed compact log.
  7. Slice each of the 4 logs into 6 slices each. Roll each slice into a ball.
  8. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the sweet potato balls on the baking paper, at evenly spaced intervals. Brush with a mixture of beaten egg yolk and cream.
  9. Bake for about 15 mins till the glaze turns golden brown.
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