I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and definitely a few more times after that. The best, best thing about blogging is surprisingly, not that I have cake at home ALL THE TIME, but the sheer talent you discover all over the world while you are working hard on your own little baby in this sometimes scary blogosphere.
There are literally millions of food blogs out there and I’m deeply in love with quite a few of them, including their bloggers of course, which makes me sound a little weird, but it’s true. I’ve discovered new flavours, new photography styles and new everything by simply being a part of this online world. It’s incredible.
So when I first landed on Molly Yeh’s blog, I was floored. Not all of the things were things I could eat (vegetarian and all that), but I so wanted to. The thing that keeps me going back though, is her writing, which is hilarious and completely on-point. Her photographs are the most uniquely composed ones I’ve seen so far, minimal but so beautiful. So when her book, Molly on the Range, came out, I rushed to go gift it to myself, because if you like reading and you like food and you like the quirkiest illustrations, this book needs to grace your home. It’s filled with the most entertaining stories about the farm she lives on, very firm opinions on hummus and a fabulous mix of Molly’s Chinese-Jewish heritage. It’s so much fun, which I think, is always the whole point of cookbooks.
(This is not an official endorsement or anything, I just really love this book.)
So, I made an adapted version of her tahini cake because hello, tahini frosting sounded like the most wondrous, most unheard of thing in my head and I had to do it.
Nutty, buttery frosting (which is odd because tahini is made of sesame seeds which are not nuts, clearly) over a moist, fluffy, super chocolatey chocolate cake. I’m so sold. And I’m making tahini all day every day
Two things. One, I had to reduce the amount of tahini because two, I was making it at home and didn’t have enough sesame seeds which I realised too late. I found this quantity of tahini was enough though, because for my slightly not-used-to-tahini-by-itself palette, a half cup split between the cake and frosting, was just perfect. Feel free to double the tahini and then the frosting if you’d like to have more of it. As written here, it’s enough to frost about half the cakes, or drizzle on all of them. I actually liked leaving some unfrosted because the cake batter itself has so much flavour!
The cake is a classic, except because there’s tahini in the batter, it gets a more interesting personality. You can taste it, then you can’t, then you can taste it and then you can’t. This is the way chocolate cake stays on its feet, just in case it ever gets drowned out in the millions already out there. The whole thing comes together so beautifully that you won’t miss peanut butter at all because ironically, tahini tastes sort of like it. Win win.
Make this your weekend project, you won’t regret it 🙂
- For the tahini and frosting
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsps vegetable/olive oil
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of cinnamon, optional but recommended
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- For the cakes
- 1 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and ½ tsps baking powder
- 1 and ½ tsps baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 and ½ cups caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup freshly boiled water
- To make the tahini, toast the seeds on a non-stick pan, without any oil or butter, for a few minutes on low heat. Take them off the heat when they are lightly browned and smell nutty. Allow to cool, then transfer to a food processor or blender with a sharp blade. Grind for a few minutes till a crumbly paste forms, then pour in the oil and grind till paste-like. For a smoother, thinner tahini, add more oil, but I left it at this stage. You will have about ½ cup. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 175 C and lightly grease 16 muffin moulds. You could also bake an 8" round cake.
- To make the cupcakes, first sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla and oil. From the tahini you just made, add ⅓ cup to this mixture and stir very well till smooth and combined.
- Fold in the flour mixture, alternating with the hot water, until you have a slightly runny but smooth batter. Use a hand mixer to break up any lumps or air bubbles.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin moulds and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until risen and a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool a little before transferring to a wire-rack to cool completely before frosting.
- When ready to frost, beat the butter, powdered sugar and remaining tahini (about ¼ cup), then add the cinnamon and vanilla. Beat till you have a smooth, creamy frosting. I like my frostings on the slightly less-sugary side, but feel free to add more if you like a sweeter, thicker frosting. This much frosting is enough for about half the cupcakes, but you can also just drizzle it on each of them. I liked leaving some of the cakes unfrosted because they're super flavourful just on their own too. Happy eating!
*Double the tahini and the frosting if you'd like to go the original recipe way: ½ cup tahini in the batter plus ¼ cup sugar extra. And ½ cup tahini in the frosting, adding more sugar to thicken the frosting as needed.
*Homemade tahini is really easy to make, plus a million times cheaper than store-bought, but if you do have a favourite brand, feel free to use it, taking care that you don't use tahini 'sauce' or 'dressing'