Black sesame chocolate cake, looking into the heart of darkness

A person with a vivid imagination could easily gaze into the inky black oil slick that is this cake batter and associate it with all that is dark and evil. Easy to do, in the distressing and challenging times we are currently living in. The portion of my soul that is part poet longs to wax allegorically. However, the pragmatist within, gave the poet inside, a short sharp slap around the chops. Serving as a stern reminder that this was merely a cake made of black sesame powder, given as a gift by a sweet friend. Pondering what to do with this bounty, there was certainly something fortuitous in the recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed a day or so later.

Black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B and iron and the Chinese believe they assist in slowing down the ageing process. (Anti-ageing you cry! Be warned, they can also have a laxative effect so don’t start chowing down on them by the handful.) They contain nutrients that protect the heart, aid digestion and can assist in lactation. Quite the tiny powerhouse indeed.

Ground sesame has the aroma of a musty health food store but this rich dense cake ends up tasting nutty and earthy. The generous slathering of chocolate ganache atop this somewhat grim looking bake is a decadent and welcome addition. Maybe it is a cake perfect for a Halloween or Day of the Dead celebration. Our children were extremely fond of this toothsome dessert despite it’s subdued sweetness. To the point of asking for extra servings, repeatedly. And there certainly isn’t anything dark about that.


200g (1 1/3 cups) black sesame seeds (I used 1 cup ground sesame seed powder as that’s what I had.)
200g butter, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (1 cup) coconut sugar
100g (1 cup) almond meal
35g (1/3 cup) plain gluten free flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
Chocolate Ganache
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml pure cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. (I didn’t need to as my seeds were already ground.)
Put the butter and sesame seed paste into a saucepan and cook over a low heat until melted.
Remove from heat and place into a large bowl, allow to cool down for ten minutes.
Stir the eggs and sugar into the sesame seed mixture.
Sift the almond meal, flour and baking powder into the sesame seed mixture and gently fold to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand in the tin for ten minutes before turning onto a cake tray to cool completely.
To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes, until thickened.
Spread the ganache over the cake and allow to set. Cut into small pieces and serve.

Recipe from the SBS Food Website taken from Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo, published by Harlequin.

34 thoughts on “Black sesame chocolate cake, looking into the heart of darkness

  1. Aww, bless the greedy little Yaks! This looks amazing, but I’m not wildly fond of sesame, so I might give it a miss. The honey cake, however, has had its second outing at the Husband’s request, and the MIL asked for a (large) piece to take home after I served it for dessert on Saturday night. Warm. With cream.

    • No worries, I love sesame but when I saw the recipe I was even a bit like, this sounds nuts! So glad that honey cake is a hit, the boys (big and small) are requesting it again. Warm and cream spells pudding..oh yes….๐Ÿ˜Š

  2. I looove sesame seeds and always have both black and white in the pantry. Could you taste that the sesame flavour in the cake? Saved this to try, thanks Cheery, I can always rely on you for a great GF cake

      • Yes, that was my question, how sesame-tasting is it? I’m trying to imagine the combination of sesame and chocolate. Intriguing, and I like the look of the cake with ganache–deep, dark and moist.

      • With the almond meal in it, you get the nuttiness but the sesame does add an extra whammy of deep nuttiness. Well, I think it does! And the ganache is a great pairing. Just a bit different which was fun.

    • Very true Mel, cake is quite a harmless (except for the calories) and a delicous way of embracing the dark side. Yes, they were quite satisfied. They kept saying ‘can we have some more ganache please Mum?’

  3. I have a big stash of black sesame seeds-should I toast them before grinding ? Also am assuming that regular sugar will work just as well ? A great cake to add to the special book.Dark is good .

    • I like a bit of food kismet, great you have a big stash! I wouldn’t toast them as it may stop them grinding down properly and I think soft brown sugar would work a
      treat. I will definitely be cracking this one out for special occasions as well.

  4. What a very cool gift to receiveโ€ฆ I’ve never seen sesame seeds ground up into a powder. The flavour of this must be fabulous Lisa, in all it’s chocolatey nuttiness and element of je ne sais quoi! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. A.PROMPTreply

    What an intriguing mix! I’m going to have to try this one just for the novelty factor, I think.
    Also, quite agree with previous comment…that pic of your mini-Yaks enjoying this is awesome!

  6. This looks insanely delicious! I bought almond meal recently and can’t wait to try it with this recipe. Your photography is so lovely and I’m so glad I just discovered your blog. Thank you for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. A delicious recipe, more of your wonderful writing, plus an ingredient I don’t remember seeing in health food stores, (the black sesame powder) = another great blog posting from you, Mrs Cheergerm …… but the icing, (or should I say ganache?) on the cake is the final photo, kids number 1 and number 2 performing the crucial taste test … or was that one of the many repeated reservings you mentioned!? Glorious!!! ๐Ÿ˜

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