black sesame cookies & cream cupcakes

5 from 1 reviews

Cake adapted from Ina Garten via The Pancake Princess and frosting adapted from Baker Bettie.



For the toasted black sesame flour:

1 cup black sesame seeds

For the cupcakes:

1/2 cup (65 grams) toasted black sesame flour, from above

1 3/4 cups (218 grams) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or up to 2, if you prefer sweeter)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup neutral oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup hot brewed coffee (or 1 cup hot water)

For the black sesame mascarpone frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone, at room temperature (my favorite is Vermont Creamery)

1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (or up to 2 or 3)

1/2 cup (65 grams) toasted black sesame flour, from above

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)


  1. In a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, toast the black sesame seeds for 2-4 minutes, or until they begin to smell fragrant, warm, and roasty.  A few may jump in the pan.  If they begin to smell at all burnt, remove immediately from heat.
  2. In a food processor, blend the black sesame seeds for 1-2 minutes, or until the seeds form a flour similar to the consistency of almond meal.  Set aside.
  3. For the cupcakes:  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the toasted black sesame flour, the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.  In a separate measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.  (While you do this, you may want to brew your coffee if you haven’t already.)
  4. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk just until combined.  Pour in the hot coffee (or hot water, if preferred) and stir until incorporated.  The batter will be quite liquid–this is fine!
  5. Divide the batter between 18-24 cupcake liners.  If you’re using taller tulip-style liners, fill to about 3/4-inch below the top of the liner, and you will only need about 18.  If using standard liners, fill 3/4-full or divide evenly between 24 liners.  The batter is fine to refrigerate if you need to bake in more than one batch.
  6. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until cupcakes are slightly domed and bounce back when pressed, and when a cake tester comes out clean or with only a crumb or two attached.
  7. For the frosting:  While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.  Be sure to let your frosting ingredients sit at room temperature for at least a few hours to let them warm.  If the mascarpone is at a different temperature than the cream or butter, it can curdle.
  8. When your ingredients are all at room temperature, combine in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment at medium-high to high speed for about 5 minutes.  (I accidentally used a balloon whisk–it worked fine!)  For me, I made three batches and each time the mixture started out curdly and scary-looking–perhaps because of the whisk–even though they were all at room temperature, but eventually it came together around the third or fourth minute and turned pale, light, and fluffy.  Once it does, stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl, then let the mixture whip for a few more minutes.
  9. Turn the mixer down to medium and add the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until incorporated.  I found I only needed 1 1/2 cups for a frosting that was pipeable yet not too sweet, but you can add up to 2 or 3 (or more) if you prefer.
  10. Finally, add the vanilla and the remaining toasted black sesame flour.  (If desired, reserve a little sesame flour for sprinkling on top.)  Once incorporated, stop the mixer and fold any streaks into the frosting.
  11. When the cupcakes are fully cool, frost as desired.  I used an open flower piping tip to pipe inexpert rosettes on these, using tutorials from Tessa Huff and Lyndsay Sung‘s beautiful cake books.  And enjoy!  


Because these have mascarpone in them, refrigerate if not eating immediately.  The cupcakes are so nice and moist that they keep beautifully even after 48 hours in the refrigerator.  Let the cupcakes come back to room temperature before enjoying, as the frosting will firm up when chilled.  

The frosting is best piped or used immediately after whipping, but can be made ahead and refrigerated.  If you do, let the frosting warm up for 30 minutes to an hour and then re-whip.  It will be a bit grayer in color from the black sesame seeds, but is otherwise fine.