Black & White Sesame Cupcakes

What makes a cupcake a cupcake?  Is it merely a muffin with frosting?  Or it is a small cake topped with an oppressive amount of sugary buttercream frosting?  To each, his own definition, I suppose.  Your opinion of these cupcakes will depend entirely on your personal definition of what the essence of a cupcake should be.

Black and White Sesame Cupcake

These cupcakes fall closer to the frosted muffin end of the spectrum.  They are mildly sweet, flavored with toasted sesame seeds, dense and crumbly.  Where you would normally find mountains of powdered sugar-laced buttercream, there is a zippy white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  With no added sugar, the frosting is tangy, mildly sweet and a pleasant companion to, what I’ve determined is the Perfect Breakfast Cupcake.

sesame seeds

In America, we have become so accustomed to our cupcakes acting as a means of mainlining powdered sugar and butter that I was sure I was missing something when I saw that there was no powdered sugar called for in the frosting recipe.  How could this possibly work?  But it absolutely did … in a surprisingly refreshing way.

cupcake batter

The cupcake batter is much closer to a muffin batter, thick and sticky.  I filled the muffin tin only two-thirds of the way up but they rose quite a bit above the pan.  If you want a flatter top I would suggest only filling the tins halfway up.  However, since you won’t be topping these with gobs of buttercream, I think the raised tops ended up giving these a more traditional cupcake appearance.  The cupcakes themselves are crumbly and mildly sweet.  Unlike the sugary sweet, cavity-causing cupcakes I’m used to, these were a pleasant surprise.

baked cupcake on rack

With the mash-up of black and white sesame seeds, these are devastatingly handsome cupcakes.  (Hint: Look for black sesame seeds in the Asian food section of your grocery store!)  These are perfect for people who are turned off  by overly sweet cakes and desserts.  My boyfriend being one of those people … he loved them.  They are perfect for breakfast, brunch, as an afternoon snack or as a non-sugar coma inducing dessert.

solo cupcake

For the health food folks out there, you could absolutely substitute whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour in this recipe.  There is only a cup of sugar in the recipe, which makes 12 -20 cupcakes (depending on how much you fill your muffin tin), which could easily be replaced with Splenda or your favorite sugar substitute.

group of cupcakes

One more note — the frosting is thin (probably due to the absence of a pound of powdered sugar … isn’t it a bit gross what we’ve grown accustomed to?) and wouldn’t be suited for any piping work.  However, it is great if you just spread a good amount on the top of the cupcakes.  In the end, these cupcakes/frosted muffins were tangy, surprisingly mellow, and, frankly, a nice change of pace.

cut open cupcake


Black and White Sesame Cupcakes

Yield: 12-20 cupcakes


For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cup milk (regular, soy or reduced fat)

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup white chocolate
1 cup softened cream cheese
3 1/2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted


- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand-held mixer), cream the butter and sugar together. Cream until light and fluffy.
- Reduce the mixer speed and add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mix. Alternate additions of the dry ingredients with the addition of the milk. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Stir in the sesame seeds.
- Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, fill the lined muffin tin with the batter approximately 2/3 full.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Do not begin frosting until completely cooled.
- To make the frosting, start by melting the white chocolate. Either melt the chocolate using a metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering water (a double boiler method), stirring constantly until smooth or heat the chocolate in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand-held mixer), combine the cream cheese and the melted butter. Mix until smooth.
- Stir in the vanilla and both types of sesame seeds.
- Add melted white chocolate and continue stirring until smooth.
- Spread heaping tablespoons of frosting on the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with extra sesame seeds if desired.

Adapted from Lilach German's Cupcakes, Cupcakes and More Cupcakes!

  Pin It

15 Responses to “Black & White Sesame Cupcakes”

  1. 1
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — September 13, 2009 6:49 pm

    Hey, I have those placemats! These are so unique… I just love them! Creative cupcake, that’s for sure :)

  2. 2
    Xiaolu — September 13, 2009 7:29 pm

    I LOVE sesame seeds! And I just happen to have a bag of black ones in the fridge to use up. I’m not a big fan of sickenly sweet frostings either, so I’ve been trying to stick with cream cheese or SMBC lately.

  3. 3
    Jen @ MaplenCornbread — September 13, 2009 7:32 pm

    No, these are cupcakes. ;) and unique ones at that! WOW! YUM!!The black and white is so pretty too!

  4. 4
    Natalie — September 13, 2009 10:09 pm

    Wow, these look fantastic. I love how tall and rounded these cupcakes are, maybe we could call them jumbo cupcakes? The pictures are very eye catching.

  5. 5
    Gala — September 14, 2009 4:28 am

    They baked up beautifully! What a nice dome shape. These sound very interesting!

  6. 6
    Amrita — September 14, 2009 5:21 am

    The icing is so pretty! Looks yummy!

  7. 7
    TheWoman — September 15, 2009 5:01 am

    These look great – I’m not a fan of big heaps of butter frosting, so these are perfect. And what a novel idea to use sesame seeds on a cupcake – I bet it tastes great!

  8. 8
    Steph — September 18, 2009 5:24 pm

    I love black sesame. I always wanted to put the in a cupcake, but didn’t know how as crazy as that sounds! A cupcake to me is definitely a mini cake with frosting.

  9. 9
    Drew — September 21, 2009 11:13 pm

    Got into the cupcake vs. muffin dispute in Chambers last week (no kidding!) after I claimed to have a “Breakfast Cupcake” recipe. Judge said cupcakes have frosting; so there you have it!

    • kate replied: — September 22nd, 2009 3:12 pm

      Drew — I suppose if the Judge says frosting makes it a cupcake then we might as well consider that binding law. Works for me! :-)

  10. 10
    Cate O'Malley — September 23, 2009 10:35 am

    Those are stunningly beautiful!

  11. 11
    Alta — September 30, 2009 11:37 am

    These look awesome! I love the sesame seeds. Might have to make me a gluten-free version!

  12. 12
    Maysie — May 6, 2012 12:21 pm

    Can I use poppy seeds instead of black sesame seeds?

    • adashofsass replied: — May 11th, 2012 1:53 am

      Maysie — Sure! I don’t see why not! Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

  13. 13
    Laura — November 9, 2012 2:18 am

    I’m making these for a baby shower (the mom calls her growing baby “Sesame Seed!”) and even without the frosting they are delicious! (I wound up with an awkward half-cupcake, and, well, I had to make sure they were okay!) Great soft, dense texture, perfect level of sweetness, and delicious toasty flavor from the sesame seeds. They will be even better frosted! Thank you for sharing this!

Leave a Comment