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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!