Taro balls and sweet potato balls dessert is a classic sweet treat that is widely available in Taiwan, the version found in Jiu Fen is said to be the most famous. The balls have a light chewy texture and are flavoured naturally, making it a very refreshing dessert that can be enjoyed during both summer and winter seasons in Taiwan. The taro balls and sweet potato balls are served in a variety of bases, such as grass jelly, sweet bean curd jelly, glutinous rice balls, coconut jelly, or sweet ginger syrup. Here’s my rendition, savouring it with chilled bird’s nest from New Moon. I simply make the balls and cook enough to enjoy with a bottle of chilled bird’s nest. The rest of the balls can be kept in the freezer for months.
Some tips in making bird’s nest with taro balls and sweet potato balls
- I added a bit of Monk fruit sweetener to the steamed taro and not the sweet potatoes as taro is less sweet than the sweet potatoes. The balls are also added with a sweet glaze after boiling.
- Tapioca starch is added to the steamed taro and sweet potatoes to give it a chewy texture. You can also use sweet potato starch, which is the default starch used in traditional taro balls, but I prefer tapioca starch for its chewiness. FYI, tapioca starch is also called tapioca flour, both means the same thing,
- Add the tapioca starch a little at a time and add on if the dough is too moist. As the level of moisture for taro and sweet potatoes differ, you can to use your judgement. The taro I used was rather dry, resulting in a harder dough and I need to add more water. The sweet potato was very fresh and moist, I added lesser starch and no water. The purple sweet potato I used is in-between, I added a little big more starch to the dough. The more tapioca starch is added, the more chewy it is.
- I like to make a big batch and freeze whatever dough I can’t finish. Dust the balls with a layer of the tapioca starch and separate them by layers when stored in an airtight box. Keep it in the freezer for up to three months.
- When boiling the balls, the water should be boiling before adding the balls. Keep stirring them so that the balls will not stick to the bottom of the pot. When the balls start to float, add 3 tablespoon of cold water into the pot of water to reduce the temperature. This way the balls will be chewier, like having a more QQ texture.
If you like another taro dessert, do check out my vegan taro tofu cake.
Ingredients for bird’s nest with taro balls and sweet potato balls
Pin now, cook later
Watch how to make Bird’s Nest with Sweet Potato and Taro Ball on YouTube
Bird’s Nest with Sweet Potato and Taro Balls 芋圆/地瓜圆燕窝
- 1-2 bottles Bird's Nest chilled
- 1 pot water for boiling the balls
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
Taro Balls / Purple Sweet Potato Balls / Sweet Potato Balls:
- 200 g taro, purple sweet potato, sweet potato
- 200-300 g tapioca starch can also use sweet potato starch
- 1-3 tbsp Monk fruit sweetener season to taste, optional
- Water to add if too dry
- Cut the sweet potatoes and taro into smaller pieces (about 1cm x 1cm).200 g taro, purple sweet potato, sweet potato
- Place the root vegetables on a steamer tray. Steam on high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until softened.
- Mash taro and the sweet potatoes individually with a fork. Taro – add 1 tbsp Monk fruit sweetener and 60-90g tapioca starch and mix well with a fork. Add lesser starch if it's dry and more if it's moist. Knead into a douhg with hands when it's warm enough to handle. Add some water if dough is too dry or add more flour if the dough is too wet. The dough should be soft and pliable. Cover to prevent the dough from drying. Sweet potato – repeat the same as taro but without the sweetener (optional) as it's already sweet. Sweet potato is quite moist so you can add more tapioca starch if required.Purple sweet potato – repeat the same as taro but without the sweetener (optional) as it's already sweet. Add more tapioca starch if it's too moist.200-300 g tapioca starch, 1-3 tbsp Monk fruit sweetener, Water
- Divide each dough into 4 equal portions and shape each portion into a thin long strip of about 1.5-2cm thickness. Cut into shorter pieces (about 2cm). Roll each ball to smooth out the rough edges.Dust some tapioca starch over balls to avoid them from sticking together.
- Bring a pot of water to boil, then reduce to medium heat. Gently add the balls in. Keep stirring to prevent the balls from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the balls float, add 3 tablespoons of cold water and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.2-3 tbsp cold water, 1 pot water
- Scoop up the balls and sprinkle some Monk fruit sweetener over the balls while they are still hot. The sweetener will melt and form a shiny glaze over the balls.