Palm Sugar Tang Yuan in Syrup

Submitted by Amoimoi

One of the many varieties of sweet Tang Yuan served on Dong Zhi, the Chinese Winter Festival, this is an absolute must-have for the unity of a family. You can try some other popular variants such as the Tang Yuan with Ground Peanut in Ginger Syrup, or just add the plain Tang Yuan (see Tang Yuan in Chicken Soup) into Adzuki Bean Soup.


  • 400g white glutinous rice dough (ready-mixed), or see Versatility Note for home-made method
  • 2-3 tablespoons beet juice for colouring
  • 400g palm sugar/gula melaka, break into 1- or 2-cm chunks
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2-3 inches fresh ginger, crushed
  • 400ml water
  • 5-6 pandan leaves, bent and tied together into a knot


  1. Separate the glutinous dough equally into 2 parts. Add the beet juice with 1 part and mix it thoroughly to make a pink-ish coloured dough.
  2. Divide both white and pink doughs into 2-cm portions, and roll them into ball-shaped dumplings between your palms.
  3. Fill up the middle of each dumpling with similar amount (to the size of each dumpling) of the palm sugar chunks. Wrap and seal it up nicely, till either the dough or the filling is finished.
  4. To prepare the syrup, bring 400ml of water to a boil in a deep saucepan with the pandan leaves and ginger. Add the remaining brown sugar (you can also add in any remaining palm sugar) and let it simmer on low till the sugar is dissolved. Discard the pandan leaves and the ginger.
  5. In another large pot, put 1 litre of water to boil.
  6. Place these dumplings into the boiling water. Let it boil till the dumplings float to the surface. Transfer them from the boiling water and into the syrup.
  7. Serve 5-6, hot or cold.

Versatility Note:

  1. You can prepare the dumplings the night before or hours before you make the soup. But you would have to ensure that they do not dry up in room temperature. Cover them with cling film and place them in the refrigerator.
  2. You can re-adjust the amount of brown sugar used in the syrup depending on your preferred taste, but bear in mind that these dumplings are filled with sugar too, so do it wisely.
  3. Do not boil the dumplings in the syrup, or the syrup will turn murky after a few boils.
  4. My grandmother used to buy the glutinous rice, mill it, and mix it into dough, manually. If you can't find someone who can mill it for you, you can also get some glutinous rice flour and mix it with water to make your own dough..
  5. You can use factory-made food colouring but we do prefer to use beet juice as it is from a natural source.