Black Sesame Cupcakes with Matcha Buttercream

January 27, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 12 cupcakes
Author Notes

We were starting to worry that cupcakes were becoming passé, but Molly Yeh has given them new life with the help of black sesame seeds, our new favorite flavor. By distilling the nutty toastiness of black sesame seeds in cupcake form, she's created a treat that, in her words, is "delightfully unique without being too weird or inaccessible." Since it can be hard to tell when black sesame seeds are toasted, buy them pretoasted from an Asian market or gourmet grocer. Reprinted from the Food52 Baking book. —molly yeh

What You'll Need
  • Cupcakes
  • 6 tablespoons (55g) black sesame seeds, preferably pretoasted
  • 1 1/4 cups (155g) All-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) tahini
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) milk
  • Buttercream
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (185g) confectioners' sugar, plus more if desired
  • 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder, plus more if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. If your black sesame seeds are not already toasted, toast them in a small pan on the stove top over low heat. When they begin to smell nutty, remove the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool slightly.
  2. Grind the sesame seeds into a fine powder using either a coffee or spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
  3. To make the cupcakes, whisk together the ground sesame seeds, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer or creaming vigorously with a wooden spoon, beat the butter, tahini, and granulated sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed to combine, then beat in the milk. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, distributing evenly.
  5. Bake for about 18 minutes, until the cupcakes have slightly risen, the tops are a bit golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer them out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely,
  6. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Using an electric mixer or creaming vigorously with a wooden spoon, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, matcha powder, and vanilla. Taste and add more sugar or matcha powder if desired.
  7. Once the cupcakes are cool, use an offset spatula to spread the buttercream over the tops.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • KKD
  • Kalai Liu
    Kalai Liu
  • kak10956
molly yeh recently moved from brooklyn to a farm outside of grand forks, north dakota, where her husband is a fifth generation farmer. she writes the blog my name is yeh.

3 Reviews

KKD August 6, 2022
I've tried several black sesame cake/cupcake recipes and this is the best so far. I think the addition of tahini boosts the nutty flavor.
Kalai L. January 12, 2021
Nice recipe. Cake has a good crumb and consistency. Not too moist or dry. Tastes great. Perfect for someone who doesn't have a sweet tooth. A recipe to keep. Thank you.
kak10956 January 1, 2017
Would like to make this into a 2 layer birthday cake would the amounts be the same for the ingredients ?