Growing up, Halloween was a big deal at my house. My mom would go all out on Halloween, decorating the house and getting the BEST candies to pass out. Throughout elementary school, we had the same routine. At the end of September my mom would ask me what I’d like to dress up as. Come October, she would sew together my outfit, gather the perfect accessories and organize our neighborhood trick-or-treat group.
I never realized how much time and effort she put into my costumes (and my brother’s, too!). I have no idea where she found the time or energy. But when I look back on pictures or recall childhood memories, I’m overwhelmed with appreciation and gratitude. My mom always made it a point to make me different from everyone. (I was that kid whose wardrobe consisted of pinks, polka dots, and neon prints.) She never wanted me to blend into a crowd. (For that, I’m super thankful. She’s made me confident and not afraid to be myself.)
She made me all sorts of costumes from Disney princesses like Belle and Snow White to more elaborate outfits like Hoppity, the pink bunny beanie baby which included a human-sized TY tag along with a plastic tag protector! (Of course! TY beanie beanie require tag protectors!) [One of these days, I’ll have to share some of these pictures.]
It’s been ages since I’ve asked my mom to make me a costume. Although, I bet once grandchildren are involved, she’ll have her sewing machine out as early as August to prepare. Even though I don’t dress up anymore (mainly because Alex refuses to do matching costumes), at least I get to dress up the pups all I want! AND most importantly, I get to make Halloween inspired sweets and treats like this black sesame cake with marshmallow webs.
This cake was inspired by the recent Food Network Magazine cover photo. Their feature Halloween cake is carrot cake covered in chocolate frosting and a marshmallow web. I was quite intrigued by the web, so I put my own spin on it.
At first I thought about making a “black” velvet cake. Good thing, I didn’t have black food coloring. As I searched through my pantry, I came across black sesame and this cake was born.
This recipe makes three 6-inch cake layers. I have a photo of the black sesame flour/powder I used in my black sesame shortbread post. If this black sesame cake seems too daunting, here’s an easier black sesame cupcake with matcha frosting.
Fill, stack, and frost the cake as usual. Let it chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes to allow the frosting to set and harden before you decorate it with the marshmallow webs.
This marshmallow web goop is super easy to make. You simply put marshmallows in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. The friction and heat created during mixing is enough to break down the marshmallows. You end up with this shiny, glossy, and super stringy goop. (It’s my new favorite thing and I want to cover all sorts of cakes with it! Thanks, Food Network Magazine!)
The marshmallow webs sort of look like silly string. You can add as much or as little as you want on the cake. I should have stopped here for an artistic minimal look- but I went a little overboard as shown in the photo below.
As you can see, this marshmallow web goop stuff can get pretty messy. If you’re not careful, it’ll end up everywhere… on your camera buttons, in your hair, all over the table, on the floor, on your phone! It’s best to work on a surface you can easily wash.
If you’ve never had black sesame desserts- it tastes quite similar to peanuts. It’s very toasty and nutty in flavor. The cake isn’t that sweet, neither is the frosting. The sugary marshmallows really help to balance out the flavors in this cake. My mom LOVED it. Alex couldn’t get enough it. Two thumbs up means it’s definitely a cake I’ll repeat for future Halloweens to come!
Black Sesame Cake with marshmallow webs
Yield: 6-inch cake
Black Sesame Cake:
- 1/3 cup sesame paste* (recipe follows)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup black sesame flour/powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 10 Tbsp (6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
Black Sesame Frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp black sesame paste*
- 2 Tbsp black sesame flour/powder
- 2 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
- pinch of salt
*Black Sesame Paste: (makes enough for cake + frosting)
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 10 large marshmallows, or more as needed
- orange food gel coloring, as needed
Black Sesame Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Lightly grease pans and set aside.
- Whisk together flour, black sesame flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Scrape down bowl as needed. Add eggs, vanilla, and black sesame paste. Mix until incorporated.
- In three additions, alternate adding dry mixture and wet mixture to batter. Mix on low speed. Scrape down bowl occasionally to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before unmolding. Place cake on wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
Black Sesame Frosting:
- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add black sesame paste, black sesame flour, and powdered sugar. Mix on low speed. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
Black Sesame Paste:
- Pulse black sesame seeds in a food processor. Process until almost all the seeds have been ground into a powder. Add honey and corn syrup. Continue to process until thick paste is achieved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat marshmallows on medium speed. The friction of the whisk will break down the marshmallows. Once marshmallows are smooth, add a few drops orange food gel coloring. Mix together and add additional coloring as desired. Beat until mixture is smooth, shiny, and glossy.
- Use two forks to pull out about a tablespoon of marshmallow mixture. Stretch and pull into strands and gently drape over the top and sides of frosted cake.
The Little Epicurean