These steamed, black sesame-filled rolls are soft, sweet and mildly addictive. Eat at your own risk!
1. In a medium skillet, toast the sesame seeds on medium heat. Stir often and remove from heat when the seeds are aromatic and begin to make popping noises.
2. Pour the toasted seeds into a plate and let them cool a bit.
3. Then, pour them into a coffee/spice grinder and grind them into a powder. Add them to a bowl and mix with the melted butter and sugar. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.
4. About 30 minutes later, begin making the dough. In a large bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with the warm almond milk. Add the flour and mix well to combine. Add the sunflower oil and begin to knead. (Add little splashes of more almond milk, if needed, until the dough comes together.) Keep kneading for 8 minutes, until the dough is very smooth.
5. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and cover them with plastic wrap while you work.
6. Remove the sesame filling from the fridge. Roll it into 10 equal balls (you can use a scoop for consistency) and set within reach.
7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
8. Roll each dough ball into a log, then bring each end to the center. Press down and flatten it all down, then repeat the process one more time. This gets rid of air bubbles and ensures you get smooth, soft dough.
9. After the second go-around, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle. Place a ball of sesame filling in the center and pinch the dough up and around the filling to seal it. Place the bun (pinched side down) on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
10. Repeat the process until all the buns are assembled.
11. Next, prepare your bamboo steamer: line each level with parchment paper and place the steamer in a large skillet or wok (large enough that the sides of the steamer do not touch the skillet). Place a few buns on each level. Avoid crowding them--they will expand as they steam.
12. Add hot water to the skillet (enough that the bottom of the steamer is submerged in about ½ inch water). Turn the heat to medium heat and steam for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the buns continue steaming in the residual heat for another 5 minutes. (Depending on the size of your steamer, you may have to repeat the steaming process to finish the entire batch.)
13. Serve warm.