Black Sesame Macaron Pops with Chocolate Mochi Fillings

Fillings adapted from Bonbini and Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings
Makes about 25 to 35 macarons

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Please do not try to convert this recipe to volume measurements if you don't have a scale (I use and love this one). This recipe is very sensitive and will not work if the measurements are not exact. Please also note that every oven is different and you'll figure out what works best for yours over time. Since mine has major hot spots, I bake on 2 stacked pans for insulation. If you're uncertain of your ability to pipe uniformly-sized macarons, like me, simply trace 1 1/8-inch circles on your parchment paper, flip the paper over, and pipe on the other side, using the outlines as your guide OR print (choose "fit to page") and slide this template under your parchment as a guide but don't forget to remove before baking! Macarons are best after having been refrigerated for 24 to 48 hours, according to French pastry master, Pierre Herme, "An osmosis takes place between the garnish and the biscuit. When freshly baked this is hard and crisp, but it absorbs some humidity from the filling and its inside becomes more tender while the crust on the surface stays intact" (quote via Not So Humble Pie). So even if you accidentally overbake the shells by a few minutes, maturing the macarons in the fridge for at least 48 hours should undo most of the damage =). See my first macaron post for helpful videos of the whole macaron-making process!
85 g almonds [not roasted or salted]
40 g black sesame seeds
145 g powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
40 g granulated sugar
3 g egg white powder [optional, to stabilize batter in humid weather]
95 to 100 g egg whites [about 3 large egg whites]
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or 1/4 tsp lemon juice [optional, to stabilize meringue]

1/2 cup Black Sesame Ganache (Recipe below)
25 to 35 Pieces of Mochi Filling (Recipe below)
25 to 35 4-inch lollipop sticks

Microwave fresh egg whites 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave on medium heat.

Combine the almonds, sesame seeds, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse on and off until the nuts are finely ground (about 1 to 2 minutes). Sift the powder to remove any large chunks that remain. Put those chunks back into the food processor and pulse again for another 30 to 60 seconds. Sift again. You will probably have some slightly chunkier almond bits. Hopefully they're no more than a tablespoon or so, in which case you can throw them out.

Weigh out and mix your granulated sugar and egg white powder in a small bowl until uniform; set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed with cream of tartar until foamy, then turn the speed up to medium to medium-high and gradually add the sugar mixture until you obtain a glossy meringue (it'll look like shaving cream, hold stiff peaks, and stay in place if you turn the bowl upside-down; but don't overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry).

Add all of the nut mixture to the meringue and fold together. Use both a folding motion that scrapes the bottom of the bowl (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a gentle pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl. Slow down after all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, and continue folding the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that looks somewhat glossy and flows from the spatula in a thick ribbon. Test the batter by spooning a small amount of the batter up, then dropping it back down on itself. If it melts back into the rest of the batter within 30 seconds, it's ready for piping (this page has a nice photo of this test). If not, fold 2 more strokes and test again.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/3 to 1/2-inch wide plain tip (I like Ateco #804 or 806) with half of the batter. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.) Pipe tiny blobs of batter onto the 4 corners and center of 2 baking sheets, then line baking sheets with parchment paper OR line with silicone mats. Pipe small rounds (slightly larger than 1 inch wide) straight down and about 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets. Pick up each sheet with both hands and slam it firmly straight downward on the counter 2 to 3 times. This will to force out any large air bubbles. Immediately pop any bubbles that rise up but don't break with a toothpick. Do NOT do this once a few minutes have passed because you'll mess up the shell that's forming.

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F. Let the macarons sit out for 25 to 90 minutes to harden their shells a bit (to prevent tops from cracking during baking). Test if they're ready by touching the top and side of one shell lightly. It should feel dry and not stick to your finger at all. Bake one pan at a time for 5 minutes in the middle shelf of your oven. Now lower the temperature to 300 degrees F and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes,depending on the size of the macarons. Turn oven back up to 320 degrees F and let it come to temperature again before baking the next batch. Let cool completely before trying to move the shells.

Once cool, flip the shells over. If you have trouble removing them from parchment paper, pour a couple of drops of water under the paper while the sheet is still a bit warm, and the macarons will lift up more easily due to the moisture. Don't let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy.

Fill the shells (spooning or piping) with 1 teaspoon of ganache, top with a mochi round, add another small dollop of ganache (just enough to cover the mochi because the macaron shell will cause the mochi to dry and harden if they touch directly), and a similarly-sized top shell. For the best flavor and texture, store in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours before eating (see notes above for detailed explanation) but they are best if eaten within 5 days. Bring to room temperature before eating.

Black Sesame Ganache
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tsp honey or light corn syrup
1 Tbsp ground black sesame powder
Pinch of salt

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Meanwhile, place chopped chocolate into a small heatproof bowl. Remove cream from heat, pour over chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Add honey or corn syrup, sesame powder, and salt, then stir everything together until smooth. Set aside until it cools down and thickens a bit (chilling in the fridge or freezer is fine).

Mochi Filling
2/3 cup glutinous rice flour [like Mochiko brand]
Slightly rounded 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp water, divided
Cornstarch, for dusting

Put water and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well until sugar has dissolved. Add glutinous rice flour to the bowl and mix well until uniform. Put the bowl in the microwave and heat the dough on high heat for 2 minutes. Stir. If the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water until combined. If not, return bowl to the microwave and heat in 20-second intervals until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, then mix with the remaining water.

Dust a flat pan and your hands with cornstarch. Carefully transfer the hot mochi from the bowl to the pan. Let cool slightly until you can handle the mochi with your hands. Keep your hands well dusted in cornstarch. Cut small pieces of mochi and roll them in your hands so that you end up with about 25 to 35 fairly flat 3/4-inch rounds.