The salted-sweets trend has taken the world by storm and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Here on our home shore, the secret to our local desserts has always been a pinch of salt, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t hop on the bandwagon either. Enter treats like salted egg yolk buns and salted gula Melaka ice cream, which got our brains spinning as we made some classic ondeh-ondeh… What about salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh?? Why isn’t that a thing yet??
With the slightest of tweaks to our ondeh-ondeh recipe, we put our curiousity to the test, and we were justly rewarded. The addition of the tiniest pinch of salt to the coconut sugar resulted in a decadent flavour that amplified the deep caramelized and nutty taste of gula Melaka. The salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh turned out so good, we could not resist popping them into our mouths one after another.
So what are you waiting for? You know you want to chew on these balls of glutinous goodness, stat!
- 60g glutinous rice flour + extra if needed
- 30g rice flour
- 1/8 tsp pandan extract
- 75ml (5 tbsp) water + extra if needed
- 50g freshly grated coconut
- 2g (1/4 tsp) + 1g (1/8 tsp) fine sea salt
- 35g coconut sugar (gula Melaka)
- 1 pandan leaf, knotted
- Water for boiling
- In a bowl or plate, mix freshly grated coconut with salt. As salt intensities can vary, taste your mixture. You want the salt to bring out the rich flavour of the grated coconut without ending up with a salty mix. Add more grated coconut if you find the mixture too salty.
- Chop coconut sugar into small chunks. You can also use a grater. If you like a completely liquid centre, grate your gula melaka fine. If you like a bit of crunch, have a combination of small chunks and finely grated coconut sugar.
- Add 1/8 tsp salt to the grated gula Melaka and give it a stir to mix through.
Making salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh
- In a mixing bowl, combine glutinous rice flour and rice flour and whisk to mix.
- Add pandan extract to water. Stir to mix evenly and watch that stunning green colour appear!
- Add pandan extract mixture to the flour, then combine it until it forms a pastel green dough. We found this easier done by hand. You want a dough with a texture that feels elastic, almost like playdough. However, it should not feel sticky on the fingers. If the dough feels too dry, add some water 1 teaspoon at a time. If it’s too moist, add glutinous rice flour 1 teaspoon at a time. The dough should not stick to your fingers.
- Divide and roll the dough into roughly 18 balls, of about 9-10g each. Place them on a surface dusted with glutinous rice flour as these balls can get quite sticky.
- Dust your hands with a little bit of glutinous rice flour. Take one ball and flatten it on the palm of your hand. You don’t want to flatten it too thinly or overly thick. Too thin and your balls can easily tear while cooking. Too thick and it’ll just be too chewy. About 3mm thick is a good size, but if you’re a first-timer, err on the (slightly) thicker side until you get the hang of it.
- Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salted coconut sugar in the middle, then shape the dough back into a ball to cover the filling. Repeat until you’ve used up all the balls of dough.
- Bring about 7cm to 10cm worth water to a boil in a small or medium-sized pot with the knotted pandan placed leaf inside.
- Place uncooked balls into the pot. Work in small batches. Let the balls boil until they float, plus a few minutes extra depending on how your liquid you want the centre of your salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh to be, roughly 10 to 15 minutes of total boiling time.
- Once the balls have cooked, remove them with a strainer, shaking it lightly to get rid of excess water.
- Immediately transfer the cooked balls of salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh to your grated coconut and roll them around until they are evenly coated.
- Once coated, place the balls on a platter and let it cool to room temperature before serving. We don’t recommend cooling them down in a refrigerator as they will tend to harden.
Did you know that you can freeze ondeh-ondeh? That’s right. If you’ve got time to spare and since you’re already getting your hands sticky, make a giant batch of these balls by following steps 1 to 8 and freezing the extras after step 8. We recommend freezing them in separate containers for portion control. When you’re ready to cook them, mix your grated coconut accordingly and proceed with step 9 onwards. It will take a little longer to cook from frozen (about 10 minutes extra boiling time from the when it starts to float), and you do not need to defrost it first. However, do not freeze already cooked ondeh-ondeh! You’ll just have to eat everything up! That’s not a particularly difficult task now is it?
- For authentic results, use actual gula Melaka and not the western variety of coconut sugar. However, if you live somewhere where proper gula Melaka is not available, coconut sugar will do as they have similar flavour profiles. Do adjust cooking time though as the melting point may differ slightly. Plus, you’re not going to get that ‘crunch’ experience compared to when using chunks of gula Melaka.
- You can also use 100% glutinous rice flour and omit the rice flour completely. However, this results in a very soft and squishy ondeh-ondeh. The rice flour helps to give the little balls their structure and spherical shape. Feel free to reduce the amount of rice flour while topping up the same amount in glutinous rice flour until you find a combination of softness and firmness that you like. However, if you’re a first-timer, the ratio we’ve used above is great for a fuss-free ondeh-ondeh recipe.
- Freshly grated coconut is best, however, in a pinch, you can use frozen or refrigerated grated coconut, depending on what’s available at your local or Asian supermarket. If you’re using frozen or refrigerated, steam the grated coconut mixed with salt for 15-20 minutes, then spread it on a plate or bowl to cool. If you’re really desperate, use desiccated coconut steamed with salt, but it won’t have that fluffy texture of grated coconut.
- You can also use homemade natural pandan extract. The colour of your ondeh-ondeh will not be as striking, but that is completely fine.
How did you like our salted gula Melaka ondeh-ondeh recipe? It’s so extra and will absolutely earn you some serious hipster points. We can’t wait to see your pictures of these chewy balls of goodness, so don’t forget to tag them with #butterkicap!