(serves 8, or 4 in double helpings)
A delightful combination of sesame seeds and puff pastry in yet another east-meets-west combo. These puffs go well as a stand-alone dessert or can be served with ice cream or whipped cream. They have been described as being both crispy and crunchy at the same time, and if you taste some you will understand why.
- Sesame Paste (100 g)
- Black Sesame Seeds (1/2 cup)
- White Sesame Seeds (2T)
- Pecan Nuts (40g)
- Brown Sugar (1/2 cup)
- Butter (120g)
- Rum (2T)
- Puff Pastry Sheet (1)
Take out the puff pastry pack for defrosting and preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).
In a bowl, mix half a block (120g) of soft butter with the brown sugar by hand. There is no need for the sugar to melt or anything, just mix it well. You can microwave the butter for 15 seconds to soften it if it is straight from the fridge.
Put 1t of the sugar-butter mixture and 2 pecans into each of 8 muffin cups. As the puffs are baked upside down, the sugar from this will melt and become the glazing after baking.
You should still have more than half of the sugar-butter mixture at this stage. Mix into it 2T of rum and 2T of black sesame paste, and all the BLACK sesame seeds. This becomes the sesame filling. Sesame paste is extremely dry, so if you decide to skip the rum, you’ll need to replace it with another liquid.
Detach the puff pastry sheet from its stack while it is still semi-hard and return the rest to the freezer. Put the sheet on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Using a butter knife, spread the sesame filling evenly onto the puff pastry sheet. Arrange horizontally on top of the sesame filling 4 rows of pecan nuts. You have to work fast as puff pastry becomes unworkable once it warms too much.
Roll up the puff pastry sheet as you would a log cake or sushi. There is no need to seal the edges with egg or anything as the muffin cups will keep the puffs rolled tight. With a sharp non-serrated knife, cut and discard quarter inch from the two edges before further cutting into 8 equal pieces. Don’t worry too much if the pieces are not round after cutting; as the pastry puffs the rolls will regain their roundness. Arrange the rolls into the muffin tray with the cut surfaces facing up. If you’ve taken too long and the pastry is too soft, the alternative is to cut the pastry sheet into 8 strips with a pizza slicer and roll them individually.
Bake for about 20 – 22 minutes. When the rolls are fully ‘puffed’ and golden brown, remove from the oven and flip them over onto a wire tray for cooling. Immediately sprinkle the WHITE sesame over the glazing while it is still slightly wet. This is a purely aesthetic refinement and you may choose to saturate the entire surface with the seeds or just sprinkle lightly for a starry night effect.
This picture shows four muffin cups before the rolls are put in as per “3” and another four muffin cups with the puffs already positioned as as per “6”. Don’t fret if your roll loses its shape a bit in the cutting process. When baked, the puff pasty will initially flatten into the muffin cups and then become round-shaped as they expand against the sides.
This picture shows the puff pastry sheet being rolled up. I find it is most convenient (or least messy) to use a wooden cutting board with some flour sprinkled on it. It will be easier to start the roll if you place one row of pecans at the ‘inside’ end and avoid putting pecans too near to the ‘outside’ end.
- Kudos to Ina Garten (in her Sticky Buns) for figuring out that muffin cups are the best way to control the shape of puff rolls.
- Some people (like my brother) swear by 220oC (425oF) for 15 minutes for puff pastry but I’ve found a lower temperature is better for this recipe, probably because its not a pastry outside/filling inside type recipe.
- This recipe assumes that the sesame paste (it is normally sold together with other bread spreads) is not sweetened, which is likely to be the case if the paste is Japanese (Tahini also comes to mind). I recommend that you taste the paste first and if you find it sweet, reduce your sugar from 1/2 cup o 1/3 cup.
- You can experiment with any number of substitutions, and if you can think of it, it usually will turn out all right. Some alternatives include peanut butter, cinnamon powder, raisins and crushed walnuts.
- In my neck of the woods, puff pastry sheets come in a 9.5 inch (24cm) square shape. Remember to adjust accordingly if the sheets you buy are of a different size.