Black Sesame, Rose + Orange Honey Treats

Black sesame is one of my favorites.  There's something so nourishing and comforting about the depth of it's flavor.  I first fell in love with black sesame in acupuncture school when one of my classmates brought tang yuan in for Chinese New Year.  After that, every time I went to the Asian grocery store I'd treat myself to a black sesame mochi and sit in my car, in the parking lot to enjoy the goodness!  

This is not an original recipe; I came across it several months ago (here) and have been waiting to try it for what feels like forever!  I did, however, modify it to my taste buds and added a few extra herbs - which I encourage you to do as well!!  These are such tasty treats for the winter months and combine simple ingredients that nourish the blood and fluids (our yin), as well as support the Kidneys, Spleen and Liver.

The below recipe will make ~20-25 balls, depending how large you decide to roll them.  Have fun and I do hope you enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 4oz black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or so) of good raw local honey
  • 1 TBS dried orange peel
  • 2 tsp cardamom seed (use to your taste - I love cardamom, but you may want to add less)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt (I used himalayan pink salt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS cocoa powder (optional)
  • 2 cups dried rose petals // 3/4 cup rose petal powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flower for dusting
  • 2 TBS cocoa butter (optional)
  • 4 TBS goji berries (optional)

Instructions

  1. Toast the black sesame seeds in a non-aluminum pan over low heat until they become fragrant and start to pop.  Set aside to cool.
  2. As the sesame seeds cool, place your orange peel, rose petals, cardamom in an herb grinder (or use a mortar + pestle) and grind into a fine powder.  Adjust the proportions of herbs here to your taste - I added more rose petals and more cardamom, but do what suits you!!
  3. Reserve ~ 1-2 TBS of the herb powder for dusting.
  4. When the sesame seeds are cool, place them in a food processor.  Add the honey, salt, herb powder, vanilla extract, cocoa powder (if you're using it), goji berries and blend.  Blend blend blend.  
  5. Adjust the flavor by adding more herbs or more sesame seeds.  
  6. The 'dough' should come together to form a ball.  It will be soft, but should't be sticky.  
  7. Combine the herbs you set aside with the almond flour.  This is what you'll coat these little balls of amazingness in.
  8. I used a small spoon to pinch off dough to roll into balls.  Mine are small, about 1/2" - 3/4" in diameter.  Roll them in your hands to form round balls, then toss in the dusting mixture.  Place finished herbal balls into a container for storage and store in the fridge.  They should be eaten with 2-3 weeks (ha!  If they even last a week I'll be surprised!!!).
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B L A C K    S E S A M E // hei zhi ma : black sesame seeds tonify Liver and Kidney Yin (blood and fluids) and moisten dryness.  It's neutral in temperature and sweet in flavor and can be used as a gentle herb to tonify blood, yin, lubricate the intestines, as well as tonify our Jing, or essence.  

H O N E Y // feng mi : honey as a sweetener is very different than sugar, from a Chinese medicine perspective.  Honey acts on the organs of the Taiyin - or the Lungs and Spleen, and also helps lubricate the bowels.  Honey helps support digestion and provides a moistening action that is much needed during the dry winter months.

R O S E   P E T A L S // mei gui hua : this is one of my most favorite and most commonly used herbs for internal and external medicine.  Mei gui hua is most typically thought of as a herb for menstrual support, but it also gently moves Liver qi and gently regulates the Qi and Blood.  During the winter when we're not as active as we tend to be other times of the year our Liver qi can stagnate (ie: things aren't moving as well in our body).  This herb helps promote healthy movement while also cultivating the relationship of the Liver + Spleen.

C A R D A M O M // bai dou kou : is an herb that helps aromatically transform damp from the Middle burner (ie: digestive system).  It's warm, acrid, aromatic and is a wonderful addition here to help promote healthy digestion, especially after a few holidays where indulgences *may* have happened!

C I N N A M O N // rou gui : Cinnamon is from the category of herbs that warm internal cold.  It's used to tonify yang, return it to it's source and increase internal warmth.  It's sweet, acrid and hot in temperature.  This herb, with the black sesame seeds, targets the Kidneys - the seat of the body's Yang qi.  

G O J I   B E R R I E S // gou qi zi : my favorite herb to gently tonify blood, goji berries are sweet, warm and delicious!!!  Stewed, they are a wonderful morning treat with breakfast for dry stool and lovely for pregnancy constipation.  Like black sesame seeds, they tonify and nourish the Kidney and Liver yin and support the blood.  They also have a mild action to moisten the Lung.

O R A N G E    P E E L // chen pi : usually dried tangerine peel is used therapeutically, but dried orange peel will make a lovely substitute to promote the flow of Qi in the Middle burner and help drain damp.  Damp accumulates when we overeat, eat too many of the wrong foods or have fluid buildup somewhere in the body (like edema).  Often this arises because of a weakness in the Middle burner and chen pi helps support this area of our body.