Sunshine Inside: Black Sesame Cupcakes with Lemon Curd

I’ve always been inspired by color, but after seeing the gorgeous charcoal shade that occurs naturally in black sesame confections, I’ve been even more inspired by its absence. (Believe it or not, the picture above is in full color!)

Black sesame paste is needed to create these cakes and can be found at most international markets. I couldn’t find any locally so I made my own! The homemade paste creates a deep shade of grey and the flavor is wonderfully nutty and subtly smoky.

Life is full of contrast, and oftentimes you don’t have to look too far to recognize it.  It can even pop up in a batch of cupcakes! As an artist I loved creating contrast in my paintings, and now it shows up in my baking!

con·trast  v.

To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize
differences. The use of opposing elements, such as colors, forms, or
lines, in proximity to produce an intensified effect in a work of art.

Lemon curd was a no-brainer for a cupcake filling. The sunny color contrasts perfectly with the inky grey cake, and the bright flavor perfectly balances the subtle smoky undertones of black sesame. This may sound a little dorky, but the finished cupcake reminds me of sunshine after the rain – both in flavor and appearance.

Black Sesame Paste

This is often served alone as a dessert, but I use it to create black sesame confections. Be sure to use a blender on the liquefy or puree setting to grind the seeds finely. I tried using a food processor, but it did not work as well at grinding the sesame seeds. You’ll also need glutinous rice flour, which can be found at international markets and online.

Adapted from Allrecipes

Yield: about 1 2/3 cups                                                                                 [click for printable version]

1/2 cup black sesame seed

1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (often called “sweet” rice
flour or Mochiko)

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

2 cups cold water

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds.  Stir constantly to prevent burning.  It’s difficult to see if black sesame seeds
    are toasted, so heat them only until they become fragrant.
  2. Put the toasted seeds, sugar and the glutinous rice flour
    into a blender.  Add one cup of cold water.
    Blend together on the puree or liquefy setting until you cannot see any whole
    sesame seed.  This may take up to 10
    minutes.
  3. Transfer the blended mixture to a saucepan and add the
    remaining cup of cold water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat.  Whisk constantly.  Mixture will quickly thicken and become very
    dark.  Remove when mixture is thick like
    pudding and has a pasty consistency.

Black Sesame Cupcakes with Lemon Curd 

Yield: about 15 cupcakes                                                                               [click for printable version]

Black sesame cake:

1/2 cup butter softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup black sesame paste (recipe above)

8 oz.  jar of lemon
curd for filling (buy or make your own with this recipe)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake tin with cupcake papers.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle
    attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating well after
    each addition. Add vanilla and mix again. Whisk together flour, baking soda,
    baking powder and salt, set aside.  Add
    flour mixture and black sesame paste alternately, beginning and ending with
    flour.  Batter will be thick.
  3. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of
    batter.  Bake for 17-22 minutes.  Do not over-bake! Allow cupcakes to cool
    completely.
  4. Cut a divot into the top of each cupcake and fill with lemon
    curd.  Trim the cut-out cake pieces flat
    to make a “lid” and place on top of the filled divot.

Zesty lemon frosting:

2 sticks of butter softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

¼ tsp. black gel food coloring or black powdered food
coloring 

2 tbsp. black sesame seeds for decorating

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk
    attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together.  Once the frosting is thick and fluffy add the
    vanilla and lemon zest.  Beat in the food
    coloring until uniformly grey.  
  2. Transfer
    to a piping bag fitted with a large French piping tip.  Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and
    sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Notes:

The cloud toppers are made of gum-paste adhered to
a lollipop stick with white candy melts. 
I drew my own template, but you can find plenty of cloud templates
online.  I brushed corn syrup over the
surface of the gum paste and then sprinkled it with silver sugar sprinkles.

Black powder food coloring will create a more true grey in the frosting than gel food coloring.  The latter tends to have a subtle purple tint.

Products and supplies to make these cupcakes:

Ateco #869 French Star Large Decorating Tip

CK Products 16 Ounce Jimmies/Sprinkles Bag, Pearlized Silver

Indian Spice Sesame Seeds 7oz(Black)-

GLUTINOUS RICE FLOUR 1x16OZ

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365daysofbaking
365daysofbaking
8 years ago

Oh, Heather!!! These are so incredible!!! I do so love the contrast and the flavor intrigues me.
I've never heard of black sesame seeds ~ will have to check them out. And that lemon curd, I'm ALL over it!!

Alma
Alma
8 years ago

Amazing. As always.

Unknown
Unknown
8 years ago

Simplemente geniales!

http://lacocinadelarana.blogspot.com.es/

Besis

Chez Georgette
Chez Georgette
8 years ago

You are a very talented baker and photographer. It is amazing that you bake well, make beautiful creations, AND take great pictures of them. A triple threat. Rare. I always love your posts! So inspiring. I need to make a gluten free cake for my mom's 70th birthday party. I'd like to make it a 3-tier. Any recommendations for me?

Melissa  {Being a Bear}
Melissa {Being a Bear}
8 years ago

These are so amazing. The visuals of the cupcakes themselves are astounding, and the added clouds create an entire story, all wrapped up in a baked good. Brava!

Rosa's Yummy Yums
Rosa's Yummy Yums
8 years ago

Very pretty! I love that color and flavor combination.

Cheers,

Rosa

Katherines Corner
Katherines Corner
8 years ago

lovely, and I am a lemon lover so I know I would enjoy these beauties. xo

Michelle @ MakeMeCake.Me
Michelle @ MakeMeCake.Me
8 years ago

Stunning!! That's all I can say. Just stunning!

Unknown
Unknown
8 years ago

What a brilliant concoction. You never cease to amaze me!

Unknown
Unknown
8 years ago

Beautiful! You never stop amazing me!

Lora
Lora
8 years ago

Wow! Just stunning.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
8 years ago

These are so unique!! What an awesome idea!

Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
8 years ago

So beautiful! Methinks these would be perfect for a 50 Shades of Grey book club discussion party πŸ™‚

Annie @ Annie's Noms
Annie @ Annie's Noms
8 years ago

Oh wow! These look amazing πŸ˜€ I love the contrasting lemon curd too πŸ™‚

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

What a cloudy day treat! That photo with the revealed lemon curd really got me! I LOVE how you gave the special tools used at the end of the recipe! EVERYONE needs to do this! πŸ™‚

Heidi
Heidi
8 years ago

Dude, my mind is blown! I know it's in color…..but, it's not, but it is! It looks so yummy too. πŸ™‚

good times tora
good times tora
8 years ago

these look incredible. who knew black cupcakes could look so appetising? yum

Tiffany
Tiffany
8 years ago

Oh yum! These sounds FANTASTIC!

Maggie @ A Bitchin Kitchen
Maggie @ A Bitchin Kitchen
8 years ago

Gorgeous! It's nice to see something different like this – I'll always be happy to eat a cupcake with a big dollop of pink buttercream, but it's nice to see something new and creative!

Lucia
Lucia
8 years ago

Original cupcakes!!
I will try it… if I found all the ingredients πŸ™‚
Thanks for sharing

kelsey_the farmer's daughter
kelsey_the farmer's daughter
8 years ago

These are beautiful! I love the little pop of colour from the lemon curd. Amazing work!

Becs @ Lay the table
Becs @ Lay the table
8 years ago

Beautiful colours – they've made me feel happy despite the grey!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Brilliant! Making a mental note to try these the next time I make cupcakes!

Unknown
Unknown
8 years ago

Absolutely beautiful. Never thought to combine sesame with lemon. Definitely want to give these a try!!

http://Www.lifeofamodernhousewife.com

Gloria
Gloria
8 years ago

My favorite color is black, so when I got your email on this new post… WOW! I had to come over to say that they are gorgeous. I used your PIN IT button so I can share! http://pinterest.com/pin/135319163774841322/ Great job, Heather. As always, you are the baking master.
Best,
Gloria

Gloria
Gloria
8 years ago

p.s. I was incorrectly logged in for my other account for my comment above, but am logging in again (hopefully with my correct blog name!)
Best,
Gloria

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

My family has been using black sesame paste since forever to make dessert soups and fillings, but I can't wait to give this innovative new twist a try. I love when an old classic is revamped, and I can't think of a better example than this beautiful lemon curd-filled cupcake. Thanks so much for sharing!

Suzanne Perazzini
Suzanne Perazzini
8 years ago

The cakes themselves are a little dull though interesting but once you add the pale mauve frosting and yellow interior, you have a work of art.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

These have to be some of my favorite cupcakes I've ever seen-I love the rainy day idea, it's not only cutely executed by the little clouds but really, the coloring of the frosting had me thinking about that before I even looked closer at the pictures. Sincerely I hope I have an opportunity to make these sometime!

Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden
Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden
8 years ago

Absolutely fantastic! Really nice post.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Black sesame is also packed with iron, I heard! So double the goodness πŸ™‚

Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations
Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations
8 years ago

I love Asian black sesame treats, and just recently I had a black sesame flavored macaron in Malaysia. So I can only imagine how awesome these cupcakes must be!

Marci J
Marci J
8 years ago

These cupcakes are stunning!!

PSbyDila
PSbyDila
8 years ago

Oh my, these look so amazing!

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

These cupcakes are the first in a long time that made me say 'wow!' out loud.

Π‘Ρ‚Π΅Ρ„ΠΊΠ°
Π‘Ρ‚Π΅Ρ„ΠΊΠ°
8 years ago

Gorgeous little clouds and lovely hidden sunshine inside, just beautiful.

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings
Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings
8 years ago

what beautiful cupcakes!!!

Tip Top Shape
Tip Top Shape
8 years ago

Such a unique recipe! I love it!

Eleanor
Eleanor
8 years ago

those look absolutely amazing…so.. peaceful cupcakes!
can you please share how you frosted those?

Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel
Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel
8 years ago

These are incrediballs, Heather! How cool are those cupcakes? And I LOVE the little gray clouds. You're too cool for school.

Bake Me Cakes
Bake Me Cakes
8 years ago

They look so elegant!

Darla | Bakingdom
Darla | Bakingdom
8 years ago

Okay, so, gorgeous flavor combo aside, I adore these!! We haven't had rain in weeks and weeks, and I loooooove rain, so these "gloomy" little cakes are just the sweetest things ever!

Lumlet
Lumlet
8 years ago

So adorable! Did you make the clouds too? If not, where did you get them?

Joss
Joss
8 years ago

This looks so beautiful! Wonderful combo of w/w and yellow…

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

FABULOUS! Wow! Showed this to Charlie and he just said, "Where is that cookbook?" I loves to look at the Sprinkle Bakes cookbook.

And….here he comes with it to show me his favorite. He's 5. He's a fan.As am I.

Javelin Warrior
Javelin Warrior
8 years ago

I'm blown away – you've really outdone yourself with these! The contrast in texture and color is amazing and I'm sure the flavor and sensation on the palette is just as incredible. I'm featuring this post in today's Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution as always). Thanks for always inspiring me with your creations…

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

I'm making them right now and never filled a cupcake before. I noticed you cut a divot vs. piping the lemon curd into the cupcake. What's the difference? Thanks.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Can anyone tell me if I can substitute sesame seed with powder and how much?

Coco Cake Land
Coco Cake Land
8 years ago

super cool! i love it when a food artist can make black and appealing colour to eat and enjoy. love the combo idea of black sesame and lemon curd…

also reminds me of a beautiful version of a chinese 100 year old egg, also – black with a precious yolk inside… πŸ™‚

Sue
Sue
8 years ago

Love the sparkly cloud and the surprise sunshine inside!