Celebrate Halloween with a classic Cantonese dim sum, Black Sesame Rolls! This dessert is sweet and jello-like with a hint of nutty and earthy flavors.
It’s October already, which means Halloween is just around the corner. I teamed up with 7 Asian food bloggers to bring you some spooky dark food to celebrate Halloween. The secret ingredient for dark food is black sesame!
The recipe that I’m sharing is a classic dim sum dish, Black Sesame Rolls (芝麻卷). It’s a sweet dessert. Kids love this dish! It used to be very popular back in the 70’s & 80’s. But these days, you can hardly find them, even in Hong Kong. It’s because the profit margin is too small for that amount of work. So if you want black sesame rolls, it’s just easier to make them yourself. When you have all the right equipments and ingredients, these rolls are actually fairly easy to make. They are unique and different, and they taste really good too!
First, toast the sesame seeds for maximum flavors. Make a simple sugar syrup with rock sugars. Once everything is cooled to room temperature, grind the sesame seeds and combine with wheat starch, plain rice flour, water chestnut flour, syrup and water. Run everything through a cheesecloth. Steam a thin layer of mixture in a small sheet pan for a quick 3 minutes. When it’s set, roll it up. Keep in the fridge and slice to into little rolls to serve. Easy, right?
Most people refer black sesame roll to its’ nickname, “photographic film (菲林)”, because the roll is black in color and it looks very so much like the film roll. Don’t you agree? The taste of black sesame rolls are sweet with a hint of nuttiness and earthiness from the black sesame seeds. The texture is kind of like jello, but slightly more firm. They have very nice flavors and lots of fun to enjoy. It’s light and cool which is an excellent dessert to serve at the end of a meal, especially on Halloween!
Hope you will like this recipe! Have a wonderful Halloween!
Don’t forget to check out all these spooky Halloween black sesame recipes from my incredible blogger friends!
Join us and tag your pictures using #BlackSesame4Halloween on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Black Sesame Cake Roll by The Pink Wings
Black Sesame Creme Brûlée by Pups with Chopsticks
Black Sesame Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting by Contemplating Sweets
Black Sesame Mushi Pan by Chopstick Chronicles
Charcoal & Black Sesame Sourdough by Scratch Eats
Mini Matcha Cheesecakes with Black Sesame Crust by Thirsty for Tea
Totoro Black Sesame Chiffon Cake by What to Cook Today
Hong Kong Black Sesame Roll (芝麻卷/菲林)
- 120 grams black sesame seeds
- 110 grams rock sugar 冰糖
- 400 grams cold drinkable water (divided)
- 30 grams plain rice flour 粘米粉 (not glutinous rice flour)
- 60 grams wheat starch 澄粉
- 40 grams pure water chestnut flour 馬蹄粉
- vegetable or canola oil
- white sesame seeds (optional for garnish)
- 1 eighth size sheet pan (6 x 10 inches)
- 1 food processor or blender
- 1 large sieve
- 1 large cheesecloth
- 1 pastry brush
- 1 steaming rack (small enough to fit inside the wok)
- 1 large wok or pot with lid (make sure the lid can close when the rack and sheet pan are inside)
- In a medium pot over medium heat, combine rock sugar and 200 grams cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until sugar is melted. Transfer to a medium bowl. Cool completely, at least 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the black sesame seeds (do not use any oil). Heat for 3 – 5 minutes until fragrant, stirring often. Transfer to a large plate to cool completely, at least 1½ hours.
- In a food processor or blender, add the cooled black sesame seeds. Process until fine. Add the flours and starch, do a quick purse. Add the cooled sugar syrup and another 200 grams cold water. Mix until blend.
- In a large bowl, place the sieve on top and cover with cheesecloth. Pour the sesame mixture into the cheesecloth. Hold up the cheesecloth carefully and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Keep the liquid and discard the seed mixture.
- In a large wok or pot, put in the steaming rack and add water that reach 1 inch below the top of the rack. Bring the water to boil over medium-high heat.
- In the meantime, lightly brush the inside of the sheet pan with vegetable oil. Use paper towel to remove extra oil if needed. Pour about 75 milliliter of sesame liquid. The liquid should fully cover the bottom of the pan when the pan is level. If the liquid can’t cover the pan, add a little bit more liquid.
- Transfer the sheet pan with the liquid to the wok and on top of the steaming rack. Carefully adjust the rack to ensure the sheet pan is level again. Cover with a lid and steam for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for about 5 minutes.
- Lightly brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on top of the sesame sheet. Using a thin spatula, lift up a corner and pull the whole sheet out gently, and lay it back on the pan. Roll the sheet from the short length side to create a roll. Transfer to a medium plate to cool.
- Rinse and wash the sheet pan. Dry with paper towels. Repeat the steps to make two more rolls. Rest the rolls at room temperature for 30 minutes to cool. Wrap the whole plate with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for up to 6 hours.
- When ready to serve, lightly grease a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Cut each long roll into 3 parts. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with white sesame seeds and serve.
- Black sesame rolls can be kept in the fridge with plastic wrap for up to 2 days. The longer they sit, they are likely to get harden. If they are too hard to eat, you can re-steam them (in roll form), cool to room temperature and serve.
- Plain rice flour 粘米粉 is commonly used in turnip cake. It’s made from rice. It’s NOT the same as glutinous rice flour. Glutinous rice flour is made from glutinous rice, which has a sticky texture.
- Wheat starch 澄粉 is a powder produced by removing the proteins from wheat flour. After steaming, it’s color is somewhat transparent, which is why it’s often used in dim sum dishes, like har gow.
- Pure water chestnut flour 馬蹄粉 acts as a thickener. The most common way to use this flour is in a water chestnut cake. Also, it can be used in many things too. I have used that to make coconut red bean pudding.
- Black sesame seeds, rock sugar and flours can be bought in Chinese supermarkets or from Amazon.
- I actually found and bought roasted black sesame seeds instead of just plain black sesame seeds. They are already roasted, but I still toast them quickly in a skillet to bring out more flavors, about 1 minute.
- Make sure the sesame liquid cover all sides and corners of the sheet pan before steaming. If not, part will be missing and the rolls will be uneven.
- To make better presentation, trim both ends of the long rolls before cutting into 3 parts.