Have you ever heard of a sweet potato sesame seed balls? Buchi Ube is a traditional Filipino dessert made from purple sweet potato filling stuffed inside sesame balls.
The combination of the sweet mashed purple sweet potatoes with the chewy sesame seed balls made with glutinous rice flour is so tantalizing. And it’s easier to make than you think. Let’s take a look at how to make this colorful and tasty snack.
So, I am putting out a full disclosure here. This post was first published in 2010. I KNOW, crazy! The pics in this article are from before bloggers gave a S*#T about food photography or editing, and cameras maxed at 2MPs. Anywho, I entered this recipe as a contestant in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog.
This recipe was for round 2 and our challenge was to pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone and to make sure it is as authentic as the real deal. Hello! That is the very definition of my site. I knew this was not a particularly difficult challenge for me.
But this recipe article was the very first time I actually made an effort to shoot the best pics. And at the time, these were pretty good. Oh, how times have changed.
Food in the Philippines
I really think Filipino cooking is full of mystery and unknown to North Americans. Lucky for me, I have attended twice a Filipino potluck with the Filipino community.
The tastes, colors, and textures are very exotic. You can be guaranteed that there will be an entire roasted pig called Lechón. Fish, chicken, pork adobo, rice, and curry dishes are common. For the brave, there will also be Dinuguan, a blood stew with pork offals.
I am particularly fascinated with the dessert options. They seem to consist mainly of flans or custard-like sweets that can be very starchy. And you have to try the famous halo-halo ice treat.
Today, we will explore Buchi Ube or sesame balls with a purple yam filling.
How to Make Purple Sweet Potato Filling
Ube Halaya, a purple sweet potato filling, is a very popular dessert in the Philippines and it is normally eaten as is. But it is also used for pies, tarts, and even ice cream.
Purple sweet potatoes (not to be confused with blue potatoes) taste exactly like yams. They just have a different color.
All you need to do is boil up a couple of ubes, and once soft, mash them. You are literally making mashed potatoes. Then we add coconut milk and condensed milk. This mixture is placed on the stove and cooked until thickened to a paste consistency.
How to Make Sesame Seed Balls
At first glance, I bet you thought they were Chinese sesame seed balls. And you would be right. These balls are made from a dough made with glutinous rice flour which is flattened into a small disk, filled with a sweet paste, rolled into balls, rolled in sesame seeds, and deep-fried until you get a golden crisp chewy treat. Check out the full recipe below for the complete instructions.
Traditionally, the filling used in Chine is sweet red bean paste. The Filipino version called Ube Buchi is made with the sweet ube dessert.
Sesame balls are usually served still warm. Here is a pro tip for you: snip them open with a pair of scissors. They are a bit oily, chewy and sweet once you get to the middle. Very rich and addictive!
Purple Sweet Potato Sesame Seed Balls | Buchi Ube
- 3/4 cup purple sweet potatoes peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 a 14oz-can condensed milk
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
Sesame Seed Balls
- 1 2/3 cups + 1 tablespoon glutinous rice flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 liters vegetable oil
- Peel and slice the purple sweet potatoes into medium pieces and boil until tender. Drain and mash.
- In a deep saucepan combine all the ingredients except the butter. Place on medium-high heat and stir non-stop while the mixture thickens, it can take anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. After, add the butter and mix it in well.
- When the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a spoonful doesn’t fall, it is ready. The goal is to achieve a paste consistency.
- Keep 3/4 cup aside for the sesame seed balls and pour the rest into a well-buttered dish. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving and spronkle toasted coconut on top.
Sesame Seed Balls
- Mix the glutinous rice flour with the sugar, salt, and water. Knead just enough to form a ball. Divide dough into small pieces and form small balls, about 12.
- Roll each dough ball into a flat disc then place 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch shut. Roll the ball in moistened sesame seeds. Repeat.
- In batches, deep fry in hot oil at 320 F for about 10 minutes, or until the balls float. Keep the balls submerged in the oil with a slotted spoon as you slowly increase the oil to 350 F, and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel and leave to cool a bit before serving.
Thanks for sharing this past post with us. I’m anxious to try it.
Thank you Wendy, they re so fun to make
Wow – that’s some tasty looking treats… Sweet AND savoury – you just can’t go wrong! I like the description of texture too – crispy on the outside but gooey on the inside…! Will have to give these a go…
Evelyne these are both great recipes! I wish I could go back in time and give you a vote. The colors are so pretty and they sound like they would be quite tasty. Happy New Year and thanks for participating in the YBR 🙂
What a interesting dish! I just love the way you made these sesame balls!
Great to know you on Your Best Recipes Of 2010…I am glad that I clicked on your link!!!:)) Happy new year!
Butsi…Butsi…yummy! And have you heard of Yoyoy Villame’s song, Butsike…you can google it! Good luck.
I am off to google it now lol
my goodness that looks soooo good. I wish I could get my hands on a purple yam here so that I can try this
Whoa, what an interesting looking dessert! You got my vote!
yup, you definitely got my vote. thanks for choosing filipino dessert.
now that you got honorary filipino status, you can be our representative for the next rounds (that’s with an S) 😀 good luck.
hurray for Filipino dessert! 🙂 purple yam is a real favorite. thanks for deciding to make the halaya and butsi 🙂 +1 vote from me definitely. best of luck and hope we all advance to the next round
Blue balls never looked so tasty. You have my vote.
I thought I was gutsy choosing spam. You made purple paste look BEAUTIFUL and TASTY! Combined we could either take over the world – or scare the crap out of some people…
YES Heather, bring it on…let’s take over the world together!!!!!!!!!
Well done – this is a great post! Good luck in the competition 🙂
These look delicious! Love sesame balls. Definitely voting, and best of luck to you!
I am speechless everyone one by all the amazing comments. thank you for your votes. I wish I had time to reply to each one but I don’t have time with work and all.
I love you all but I am visiting all your blogs too! Big Hug!
Hooray for choosing Filipino! These look absolutely perfect and I’d say you’ve earned honorary Filipina status by making your ube from scratch. I haven’t even tried it myself! Congratulations on moving forward in Project Food Blog and I look forward to seeing your next entry in Round 3. Just voted! 😎
Thank you so much for the honorary Filipina status 😀
Ube has such a peculiar hue, your uba halaya looks like something the lost boys would eat in the movie Hook. The next time I see ube I’ll be sure to make it. You’ve got a vote of ours, best of luck moving on to round three!
Lick My Spoon
Sesame balls are my favorite part of Dim Sum and you just made me very happy by posting this recipe. I loved reading your post and wish you the best of luck in the upcoming challenges! If I could give you two votes, I would 😉
If only you could vote twice ha! Thank you so much!
Love those sesame balls, gorgeous…Great entry 🙂
I’m going to the Philippines this Spring. Thanks for the teaser. Your pictures are amazing. You have my vote.
I’m in the same boat – we cook ethnic food at home all the time so it took a bit of scouring to find a new cuisine to try. But great choice – Filipino desserts are definitely exotic and they look awesome! Another vote heading your way – good luck on PFB!
Someone who understands my pain lol. Thank you for the vote!
This looks absolutely delicious! Love what you chose!
Very intresting! Love that purple 🙂 You have got my vote! It would be great if you checked out my entry for this challenge 🙂
wow, that color in the sesame balls is AMAZING! great job, you get my vote sister!
How great that you got inspiration from another blogger for a food blogging challenge! Great post–best of luck in moving to Round 3! 🙂
Indeed, no one knows where any inspiration can come from lol. Love exchanging with others!
HAHAHA, I love that it matches your wall color! That is absolutely hilarious! Just voted for you, you rock!
Ha ha I was hoping someone would notice that and mention it! Thank you for the vote!
Congratulations! I didn’t make it to the second round. Glad you did, and gladder that you featured a Filipino recipe. Good luck! You have my vote 🙂
What an awesome post, I love all the photos! Good luck and I hope to see you in round three.
I love all purple foods. You should check out The Kitchen Masochist, she does some great stuff. Good luck with round 2!
Oh Thanks for the suggestion, will check that out!
Awesome job! I would totally like to scarf down a half-dozen of those balls!
Yeaaahhhh, I made 9 balls, gave 1 away. I ate the rest within 36 hours…ashamed!
you gotta be kidding me!! this is my favorite dessert! YUM!!! you surely got my vote!
What a coincidence lol, thanks for the vote
@evelyne @anya — I do believe anya was talking about me… 🙂
Hi, wandered over here from ‘From Russia with Food’… and /drool/. I suck at making my own cuisine, but I’m definitely bookmarking this for the future. <3 ube. Ever had an ube cake?
Ha ha Corinne, too funny that @anya meant you. You should totally try ding it. Is the cake different then from the ube halaya? Got a recipe for me 🙂 ?
Great post! So interesting, and I love the color. I voted for you!
Good luck! =)
Thank Jacob…I am off to see your post, I know it will be stunning!
Definitely outside of the box. Never had ube before, but it’s guaranteed to be liked. Anything in the sweet potato family is a favorite! Votes for you!
Thanks Crystal for your vote! Oh you will love them for sure. Hope you come across some
I just voted for you. I am so, so impressed that you made not one, but two, filipino desserts! I am a filipina and I’ve never made these before, certainly not ube from scratch and I love it! Kudos to you–you’ve just earned a new follower. 🙂
Wow, Jean, I am so touched by your message. A big thank you and glad to have you as a new follower.
I have a massive love affair with purple sweet potatoes and feature recipes using them on my blog. Therefore you have my vote!
These are absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful work!
Thank you so much Megan and Maya!
This dessert is rad. And very much out of the comfort zone. I applaud your creativity and I voted for you. I hope you move onto the next round b.c I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next =)
Thank you for such a great comment and for the vote! I hope to still be around too 😀
Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I should say more, but… Wonderful!
Ah, thank you so much!
Evelyne…only you could convince me that I would probably devour this amazingly prepared meal.
Great and unique ;o))
Awesome! My friend is Filippina and she would be thrilled to see this. They are such pretty desserts, aren’t they (coolest. vegetable. EVER. except for purple potatoes)?! GL in PFB, check out my entry on From Russia With Food if you like :).
Well email this to your friend if you like, yeah a dessert with a veggies is cool and odd. Great entry too just voted
I love it! You get my vote! 🙂
Thank you all Ginny, Heather and Marija
Wow! Really unusual, and very cool!
Great choice for this round. You got my vote!
Hi Eve! I was busy reading some of the participant’s post til I stumbled upon yours. I am so honored that you chose to feature my National Cuisine and dedicated it to me as well. I am so thankful and grateful. Im glad that you were able to look for purple yams, and cooking it as well is grueling. You have to stir it constantly til it gets cook. Well, definitely, you got my vote honey. I’m glad that my advocacy in making the Filipino cuisine known to the world is becoming possible with your help.
I was hoping you would fall on my entry without my having to point it out hehe. I am so happy you are honored by my dedication. Thank you again!
Delicious recipes Evelyne! I am a huge fan of glutinous rice dishes and would love to eat both of these. Purple is also my favourite colour 😀
Congrats on getting through!
Well Conor you know I picked it for you the color he he. Thanks for the support!
Great post! Very interesting stuff going on here. I’m rooting for you! Good luck.
Thank you and I’ll give you a Felix & Norton cookie for your support hi hi
As a Chinese, you get my approval that this is the way to make sesame balls. Way to go!
Congratz on Round 1! Best of luck for Round 2.
Thanks for the approval and letting me know I am authentic, means a lot!
Congrats! Thanks for showcasing Filipino food!
Thanks Eileen and Chef_d!
Beautiful colors involved in your dish. Very exotic! Glad to see you in this round. Good luck!
Those are gorgeous. I especially like the photo of the one cut open. I love sesame balls with red bean paste, and I’m sure these must be good too. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
My pleasure and yeah I like the cut up ball photo too !
The bright purple color of the yams is gorgeous, a wonderfully delicious treat that I would love to try! Good luck!
Thanks, and your greek dish looks amazing too!
I love Mhe-Lhanee! This is the first post I actually learned something new about ingredients. I have to get off my procrastinating ass and do an exchange!
YES do an exchange hehe. Glad to introduce yo to a new ingredient!
Wow, these sesame balls look amazing, it’s like you’ve been making these all the time! Congratulations. I usually fill mine with sweet peanut paste or red bean paste but never purple sweet potatoes, so this is my inspiration to try it out. Best of luck for round 2!
Quite a compliment from someone who is used to making these, Thanks! Let me know how it goes if you try this type!
This is a very different recipe- I don’t think I have ever even seen purple yams. Terrific entry and best of luck!
Thank you Deborah, I never saw them before either, pretty cool to cook with.
I absolutely love your entry! My mama’s grandfather was from the Philippines and I only know about some foods. But I’ve never heard of these desserts. It was great to learn more about food from the Philippines from you. Your desserts look wonderful and I really love the bright purple color. Good luck! 🙂
Thanks Lindsey and glad this brought back warm family memories and introduced you to a new one!
Wow… this looks so cool! I love the vibrant purple color. Congrats on making it through to round 2!!
Thanks Dana and congrats to you to, of to see your entry!
Fabulous entry Evelyne – I don’t know much about food from the Philippines so this was a revelation to me. Good luck!
Thank you MArdi and glad to introduce you to something unfamiliar