Double Black Sesame Macarons

My dad reminded me that it is Spring Lantern Festival 元宵節 today, marking the final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations for 2017.  As a kid, we used to go out on the streets and play with paper lanterns, shaped in designs of our favorite cartoon characters on this holiday.  We would also eat warm glutinous rice balls filled with sweet black sesame paste called tang yuan 湯圓 which are still my absolute favorite.  Although there are no paper lantern lightings here in SF, I am still getting my dose of black sesame with these super creamy double black sesame macarons!  There is black sesame in the macaron shell and in the buttercream filling.  Hope the folks approve 🙂

I was so thrilled to find superfine black sesame powder at the local asian market!  The fineness of the powder makes the smoothest tasting sesame buttercream.  This black sesame powder is not only perfect for macarons but also cupcakes and other frostings.  I would adjust the amount of powdered sugar and milk to alter the consistency of the buttercream depending on what type of frosting is needed. This picture shows two forms of black sesame, the bag on the left is the superfine black sesame powder used for buttercream and the bag to the right is whole black sesame which I use for the macaron shells.  It turns out that the superfine powder is too moist to be used for the macaron shells.  I’ve experimented a few times and the whole black sesame works better after grinding it in a food processor.  Unfortunately most home food processors are not strong enough to turn whole black sesame into fine powder but if you have a machine that works then that’s great! Refer to my recipe here for more details on how to make black sesame macaron shells.

I took a bite of this today and it was just perfect.  A little crispy on the outside, chewy and soft on the inside, and filled with the smoothest black sesame buttercream.  I battled hollow shells for a while, especially when baking in a new setting or in more humid conditions.

Here are a few tips to avoid hollow macaron shells:

  1. Make sure that your egg whites are beaten to a firm peak for the French meringue method.
  2. After piping the macaron shells, bang the baking sheet on the kitchen counter 5-10 times to release any remaining air bubbles in the batter.
  3. Dry the batter on the baking sheet for at least 45 min – 90 min or use a fan to dry them before baking so the macaron feet don’t collapse too quickly in the oven.
  4. Fill the buttercream after the shells have cooled completely and refrigerate filled macarons in an airtight container for at least 48 hours, yes 48 hours, trust me.

Aging the macarons in the fridge really does help! Just be sure to take the macarons out (with the container uncovered) about 20 – 30 minutes so they can reach room temperature again before eating them. Refer to my French Macaron recipe for more details on how to make your own macaron shells from scratch.

Black Sesame Buttercream (enough for about 40 macarons; 1.5 inch in diameter)

1/2 c unsalted butter
1 + 2/3c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp superfine black sesame powder (bag on the left)
pinch of salt
1 tsp of whole milk

  1. In an electric mixer, beat slightly softened butter on medium setting until creamy, about 2 minutes
  2. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the mixer and mix until combined before adding the remaining 2/3 cup.  Mix until smooth and creamy
  3. Add 2 Tbsp of superfine black sesame powder and a pinch of salt.  Beat on high until combined.  If your buttercream is stiff, add 1/2 – 1 tsp of whole milk to adjust the consistency
  4. Store buttercream in room temperature for a couple hours or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  If you do refrigerate the buttercream, soften in room temperature before using it.

If you would like to make Black Sesame Macaron shells, refer to my recipe here.

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