Vroom Vroom – Black Sesame Cream Puffs

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Yesterday, 4:34pm.  Highway 280. Inching forward at 3 mph. A motorcyclist buzzed past me on the left. Tough guy, you know. Dark shades, long grizzled beard, all-American denim overalls. And a little blue cooler strapped to the seat behind him.

As I watched the little blue cooler zip off between the stationary cars, a foreign thought entered my brain. Perhaps, I thought as I drifted lazily forward, a motorcycle might not be such a bad idea after all. Especially a motorcycle with room on the back for a cooler. I could stop by the grocery store after work and pick up dinner, laughing the whole way home at the vehicles stranded all around me. I could even bring some leftover cupcakes to work in that little cooler and arrive hours before my unfortunate coworkers still backed up on the 85 or dozing on Caltrain.

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But no, I would miss my daily snail-paced car commute. There might not be room enough in my little cooler for a hairbrush and blowdryer to restore order to my hair after an exhilarating, windblown journey. Splitting lanes without running into one of the oversized Google buses might require far too much concentration to allow daydreaming about the dinner menu. And plus, no motorcyclist ever has the luxury of eating honey-drizzled Greek yogurt topped with figs in leisure while watching the parade of Teslas in the carpool lane stream past. I’m not ready to give that up yet.

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No, the motorcycle with the cooler attachment will have to wait. I’ll revisit this idea again, maybe next Monday when I arrive at the office after 50 minutes of non-stop braking. We’ll see.

These black sesame cream puffs have nothing to do with motorcycles or morning commutes. Though I do suppose if I had a motorcycle with a cooler strapped to the back, that cooler would prove handy in transporting these. But really, that can’t beat sitting in my car with the music turned up, munching on a cream puff and bemoaning the impossibility of teleportation. Right?

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Black Sesame Cream Puffs

Makes 12 puffs

Choux Pastry
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg for egg wash, lightly beaten
1-2 tbsp black sesame seeds

Black Sesame Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 heaping tbsp powdered sugar
2 heaping tbsp black sesame powder

  1. First make the puffs. Preheat the oven to 400˚F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the butter and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. As soon as the butter melts completely, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour mixture. Return the pan to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and away from the sides of the pan, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Place the dough into the bowl of a stand mixture and beat on medium speed with the spatula attachment to release steam and cool down the dough.
  5. After 2-3 minutes, stream in 2 lightly beaten eggs a little at a time. The dough will separate then come back together again. The dough should fall from the spatula/your wooden spoon in thick ribbons. 2 large eggs is usually enough, but if your eggs are smaller you may need additional eggs. Add the eggs a little at a time to reach the correct consistency.
  6. Transfer the dough to a piping bag and pipe 12 even mounds on your prepared baking tray, making sure to leave 2 inches all around the dough to give it room to expand. Alternately, you could also spoon the dough onto the tray.
  7. Dip your finger into water and smooth the tops of the dough. Then brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
  8. Bake at 400˚F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350˚F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Remove the puffs from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
  10. Meanwhile, make the black sesame whipped cream by combining the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and black sesame powder in a mixing bowl. Whisk at low speed to combine the ingredients, then bring up to high speed and whisk until the mixture thickens into whipped cream. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.
  11. You can fill the cream puffs either by poking a hole in the bottoms and piping the whipped cream in or by slicing the puffs in half and piping with a decorative tip. Both are equally tasty.
  12. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
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