April 29, 2012

Black Sesame & Red Bean Macarons

Black Sesame & Red Bean Macarons

My husband and I go to his grandmother's house for dinner almost weekly.  She always prepares several elaborate, delicious dishes for us, and we always leave with leftovers.  Unfortunately, Grandma doesn't speak very much English, and I don't speak Mandarin, so it's hard for me to express my gratitude for these excellent dinners in words.  I've learned the Mandarin word for "thank you", but it never seems like enough.

This week, I decided I was going to bake something for Grandma.  She doesn't bake herself, and she usually seems to like the things I make for her.

Black Sesame & Red Bean Macarons

I know, I know, here I go again with the sesame and red bean.  I'll admit, I'm a little obsessed with this flavor combination, and I also thought this would be something my husband's grandma would enjoy.

There's a reason why I like sesame/red bean pairings - they're delicious.  These macarons were no exception.  I've loved the light sweetness of red bean ever since I was small (when I would consume it in such large quantities I would make myself sick), and it makes a very easy macaron filling.  I originally considered a red bean buttercream for the filling, but decided against it.  I was afraid that the buttery-ness of the buttercream might overwhelm the subtle red bean.  Also, sweet red bean paste is already such a perfect filling, why mess with it?

Grandma did like these, and kept several for later.  Yay!

Black Sesame & Red Bean Macarons

To make these macarons, I used my new KitchenAid for the first time.  I've always tried to use as little motorized technology as possible when I bake.  Some technology is absolutely necessary - beating eggs with a manual rotary beater isn't really practical in my opinion (props to anyone out there that actually does that).  But for the most part, I try to limit my electric baking gadgets.  I'm not sure where I got this notion that baking should remain in the stone age...perhaps I view my baking time as my respite from technology?  I'm a software engineer, so my job involves telling computers what to do.  Many of my hobbies (this blog, watching too much television, general Internet-ing) are also done on a computer.  Maybe sometimes I just need a break.

Anyway, I had long avoided purchasing this extremely helpful device, and now I've caved.  Making these macarons is so much easier now.  I previously beat the meringue with a hand-mixer (which is motorized, but seems less high-tech than a KitchenAid), which obviously required my constant attention.  Now, I choose the speed on my KitchenAid, set a timer on my phone, and leave to do something else.  Sigh...we'll have to see how this love/hate relationship develops...

It's so helpful...I hate it!

Black Sesame & Red Bean Macarons
Based on Brave Tart's macaron recipe.  I bought the black sesame powder at an Asian specialty supermarket (Uwajimaya here in Seattle) - I doubt most grocery stores carry it.

Ingredients for Macaron Cookie
115g almond flour* (I used Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour)
8g black sesame powder
230g powdered sugar
144g egg whites (about 5 eggs' worth)
72g sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
*Blanched almonds will work as well, but you will need to grind them with the powdered sugar.

Ingredients for Filling
6oz fine sweetened red bean paste

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.  You might want to invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your temperature is correct.
  2. Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.  If you'd like to ensure macarons of the same size, trace some guide circles on the parchment paper, and then flip it over (so that you don't get pen in your cookies!).
  3. In a food processor, grind the almond flour with the black sesame powder for about 30 seconds.
  4. Sift the almond flour/sesame and the powdered sugar together and set aside.
  5. Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and mix with an electric mixer on medium for 3 minutes.
  6. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip another 3 minutes, then go to high and whip for another 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat for one more minute on high.
  8. Dump the dry ingredients into your meringue.  Mix with a spatula until the batter melts back down in 20 seconds after being spooned out and dropped back in.
  9. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a plain tip (a Wilton #7 tip works pretty well for me).  Holding the bag straight up, pipe batter out until you almost fill the circle you drew.
  10. After all the macarons have been piped out, bang the cookie sheet onto your counter top a few times to get the air bubbles out.
  11. Let the macarons sit for an hour (this may or may not be necessary, but probably doesn't hurt, especially if you're not sure about if you've over/under-mixed). 
  12. Bake the macarons for 18 minutes.
  13. Remove, and cool completely before peeling the macarons off of the parchment paper.
  1. Match similar-sized macaron pairs.
  2. Roll about a teaspoon's worth of red bean paste into a ball.  Press flat until it's about the size of a macaron cookie.
  3. Place the flattened paste on the bottom of a macaron, and sandwich with its pair.  Careful here - the red bean paste is a lot more firm than buttercream, and so it's easy to accidentally crush your cookies while pressing them together.


  1. I love the cartoon! I've never had macarons, I think I will try this out!

    1. Thanks! You should! I highly recommend Brave Tart's macarons post for a very detailed how-to on macarons. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Those macarons look amazing!! The little hearts are a cute touch :)

    1. Thanks! I just mixed a bit of water a food coloring and painted them on. I think it would also be fun to try drawing on macarons with edible markers.

  3. Your macarons look so perfect! I never tried anything with red bean before. Now I have something new to try!

    1. Thanks! I really do recommend red bean. I especially love it in ice cream!

  4. Hi Laura!

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  5. Great idea, using red bean!
    Definitely going to explore more asian flavours -- black sesame paste, red bean paste -- green tea ganache has been ridiculously delicious, but was looking for an interesting pairing for the green tea -- red bean seems to fit the bill!

  6. KitakitsuneJanuary 22, 2013

    Made these yesterday, and everyone loves them (esp. my mum, being Taiwanese). The flavour pairing is such a good idea! And I have to say that is saying a lot coming from me, as I have always hated red-bean paste as a kid. But I haven't had it for years, so maybe I'm just outgrowing it, like how one starts to like stinky, I mean ripe cheese as time goes on (I'm not yet at that stage). But I digress.
    The black sesame gives the shells such a subtle flavour, I had to keep some unfilled to the side just to have as cookies!
    Compliments on the blog too, very nice design, and beautiful photography. I'm a fan!

    1. I'm glad to hear you liked these! Yeah, I really like this flavor pairing - I tried it in cupcakes as well, and ended up loving them (and my husband constantly bugs me about making more). If you want a stronger black sesame flavor, I would think you could up it to 12g or so (possibly even higher).

      Glad to hear you like the blog as well!


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