The delicious, and one of my fave dessert: Mutse (The vegan-friendly recipe.)

Hello, hello! Today is October 18th, my mother-in-law’s birth date. She absolutely loved to cook and never did I go to her house without food on the table nor did I leave her house without being stuffed with food. Therefore, it is only fitting to write a post featuring one of the food she was known for: the delicious, and one of my fave dessert, steamed Mutse. If you are looking for a dessert to share during potlucks and get togethers, this will definitely be a unique food to bring. It is almost guaranteed that this will be the only one of it’s kind on the table. If you want to try and make them, taste them, read more below. 

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What is mutse?

It is a filipino dessert, or snack. At it’s base, it is made of a sweetened rice dough and sweetened mung bean filling. There are different name variations for it: buchi, muchi, moche, motsi, to name a few. It likens the taste and texture of fried sesame balls typically found in Chinese restaurants. The variations comes from personal preferences. I prefer steam, less oil to grease the palette. The taste is made even richer with a thick sweetened coconut milk sauce, or ginataang gata. The orange color comes from powdered annatto seeds. There is no use of preservatives or lye water in this, except, perhaps, for the vegan butter. (I have not tried making my own butter, yet.) Fresh coconut milk, straight from fresh coconut, can definitely be used here, but I use canned because I have an easier access to it.

Although it is easy to make, as typical of Filipino desserts, only requiring minimal of ingredients, the time required to prepare this dessert is a bit intensive. Thus, regardless of how many she shared this particular recipe with, most people don’t make it often, if at all. My mother-in-law would make trays and trays of these during fiestas, or at requests, and it will be the first to go because not only are they delicious, these are not sold ready-made at any stores here in Virginia, or in any locations our 20-year military journey took us. She shared this with me in the early 2000s and I have been known to make them once in a while for family and friends too, though I have not endeavored to make them in large fiesta quantity.

This recipe yields approximately 60 pieces, depending on individual serving size, can be frozen raw to make in advance to steam at a later date, no defrosting required. Labouring over this is worth it for me; however, I never volunteer to make them due to time requirement. Perhaps you will be more inclined to make them more often, now that I am imparting the recipe to you to make at your leisure. As a go by, it takes me a day to make this. Cooking and cooling the mung beans filing eats up most of that time.

The ingredients

The filling:

1x 12-16 oz green mung beans (depends on what the store offers)

5 cups water

2 cups white granulated sugar

The dough:

2x 16 oz bags of glutinous rice flour* (may also use Mochiko sweet rice flour)  Tip: Buy an extra bag of glutinous rice flour in case it’s needed during the dough process to make up for mistakes, if any.

1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (preferably fresh, not canned)

1 stick of vegan butter (room temperature)

1x 1/3 oz pack of achuete/annatto powder

1 cup white granulated sugar

2 cups water

Extra ingredients:

1/2 cup oil

The sauce:

1 can of coconut milk

1/2 can of water (use the same coconut milk can to measure)

10 tbsp white granulated sugar

Diluted cornstarch or mochiko mixture to thicken the sauce (dilute in water prior to mixing in the hot sauce)

Optional: Jackfruit for additional taste, jarred or fresh

*I have not found grocery stores here, aside from asian ones, that sell glutinous rice flours; however, I have been successful in finding Mochiko at several local grocery stores at the “Asians” aisle, if the grocery store has one.

Filling directions

  1. Boil the mung beans in water in medium heat until soft and water dries up, preferably in a pot with a cover. The mung beans should be cooked long enough that it is soft enough to mash to paste consistency. Add more water if needed to completely soften the mung beans to get the paste-like consistency. Mix every so often to avoid the bottom from crusting. Tip: Use a wooden spatula for mixing.
  2. Add the sugar once the mung beans becomes a soft paste. The filling will liquify again. Cook and mix until the filling becomes paste-like in texture again. Think, Ube Halaya consistency.
  3. Once cooked, set aside to cool.
  4. When completely cooled, shape individually into mini balls. Set aside.

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Dough directions

  1. Combine the dry ingredients together: glutinous rice, sugar, and achuete.
  2. Add the sweet potato and butter into the dough mix.
  3. Add the water to the dough mix in increments to control the dough’s consistency. Mix and knead until fully incorporated. The dough should feel like malleable clay. It should be dry and moist enough to roll flat and envelope the mung bean filling. Add more water if it’s too dry or add additional glutinous rice powder in increments if it’s too wet. Set aside.

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Putting it all together and cooking directions

  1. Brush oil on the bottom of a circular, steam-friendly, pan. You will need at least 3 pans. Tip: I use cake pans for at home serving but use disposable aluminum pans for parties so I can just leave it there. The Dollar Store sells the disposables ones for $1. Ensure the pan fits in your steamer. 
  2. Rub some oil onto the palm of your hands. This is to avoid the dough from sticking to your hands.
  3. Grab a small amount of the dough, enough to cover the bean filling entirely. Flatten the dough on the palm of your hands.
  4. Insert a mung bean ball filling in the middle of the flattened dough and close the dough around it, creating a ball shape. Roll it between the palm of each hand gently to create a smooth sphere. Place each ball into the greased pan. (Round pans usually fits 19 pieces, a square pan fits about 25 pieces.)
  5. Once the pan is filled, brush a light layer of oil on the top of the mutse balls.
  6. Steam the filled pan for 25 minutes, uncovered. Or, if storing for a later time, cover the filled pan and freeze. Tip: Add an extra 5 minute cooking time if starting from a frozen batch.
  7. Repeat the steps until all the dough and/or filling is used up.

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*The remaining dough and/or filling can either be frozen for a later use or cooked individually. 

The sauce directions:

  1. Combine the coconut milk and half a can of water in a pot and boil in medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat once the milk has boiled.
  3. Add the sugar, and optional jackfruit, in the sauce and let it simmer a few minutes to incorporate all the ingredients.
  4. Mix diluted cornstarch or mochiko to the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat when satisfied. Tip: Add the cornstarch/mochicko water mix in the sauce a little at a time to control the desired consistency. I prefer a thick liquid consistency to watery. It’s absolute a personal preference. 

Eat. Share, Enjoy!

Final words

There are a few recipes I have learned along the way from others and this is one of my fave. While it is a bit time consuming to make, the effort is worth it. Once, I brought these to a Thanksgiving party because it’s orange to surprise our hosts. My uncle and aunt, to this day, still brags how delicious they were and how finally they were able to taste them, outside of the Philippines, and request them from me when possible. While I am willing to oblige once in a while, thank goodness they live in California, several hours away by plane. Haha. As I have said, there is no other place I am able to buy this pre-made here locally. And even if I can, I am most certain it will be pricey due to the time required. I hope that you will be able to make this yourself successfully in the future. If you are, say a little thank you to my mom-in-law in heaven for creating and sharing this delicious recipe. No doubt she will be happy to hear of your success.

Until next time.

Mabuhay!

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