I’m a turd.
Molly has been singing, nay, operatically belting out the praises of tahini for years now. And I was still just a supermarket-homous-munching Canadian idiot with a little bit of tahini uncertainty. I loved the sound of the addition of tahini, but I hadn’t yet incorporated tahini into my desserts. So when Molly’s already-beloved cookbook Molly On The Range rolled onto my doorstep last week and I saw the ding-dong-beautiful photo of a dark chocolate cake with a thick layer of tahini buttercream punched out into the cutest mini cakes, I knew what I was making (well that, and SCHNITZEL BAO!)
The chocolate tahini cake is indeed a fantastically unique flavour. I was licking the spatula for the batter while putting my pans in the oven – tahini incorporates marvellously with chocolate. Then, iced with the tahini frosting with vanilla, a teensy dash of cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt, and it becomes this terribly crave-able thing.
I had everything in my pantry except a fresh jar of tahini – I actually blast through tahini quite heavily because I make this “glory bowl dressing” that I literally dump onto salad piles or brown rice bowls in an attempt to eat healthily. But, after reading Molly’s book, I realized the crunked-up tahini I had been buying all these years was NOT up to snuff. So I walked over to my favourite Triple A market (it has a lot of things Whole Foods has but it looks like someone took a giant dusty shit in the store – i.e., they don’t care one doodad about keeping aisles neat and tidy or “facing” their products – it’s a somewhat grungy green grocer but they have lots of organic produce) and eyed the tahini shelf and chose what I thought looked the most Molly-approved, a jar of Cortas from Lebanon!
This chocolate tahini cake! I was snacking on the cake trimmings with thick globs of the frosting while photographing the cake and I was trying to think of when I first came across Molly on the inter web – I believe it was on my pal Melanie’s blog You Are My Fave. I was like, who is this hilarious little rascal making this beautiful food?? Also, part Asian too?!! SOLD! (Some Asians (me!) tend to get excited when they meet other neat-o Asians.)
This cake is so chocolately, with the nutty infusion of sesame flavour, the frosting is creamy and extremely lickable, with a hint of cinnamon spice . I also added an extra pinch of fleur de sel sprinkled on top for a little sweet-and-salty.
Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Tahini Cake
For the cake
- 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup flavourless oil, I used grape seed
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 3/4 cup boiling water
For the tahini frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 cups powdered icing sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheight. Grease and flour three 7-inch round cake pans (or, one 13 x 9-inch baking dish).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil and tahini.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Whisk in the boiling water.
- Divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes.
- Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and tahini until creamy.
- Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix to combine.
- Mix in the salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
- Beat on high until fluffy, about one minute.
Assemble the cake
- Level any domes that might have baked up on your cake layers.
- Place the first cake layer cut-side-up on a cake board or plate.
- Using an offset spatula, fill the layer with tahini frosting; add the second layer, cut-side-down, on top.
- Fill the second layer with frosting and add the final layer, cut-side-down, on top.
- Frost the entire exterior of the cake and use a cake smoother to smoothe, if desired.
- Place cake in freezer to chill for 12-15 minutes to set the frosting.
- Remove cake from freezer and frost a final layer of frosting, using a cake smoother if desired.
- Optional: add a final sprinkle of fleur de sel and decorate with edible flowers or fresh berries!