Right now I am sitting in my grandparents’ sunshine-filled living room, swaddled in a furry blanket, listening to a crackling fire, and dreaming of the Thanksgiving leftover-filled lunch that awaits. And right now, I finally have time to catch up on some blog writing. Junior year has been something else, my friends. It’s been a whirlwind of stressful nights and looming deadlines, but also of hugs and great friends and the fun of being an upperclassman.
I love this time of year at my school. There are the annual holiday assemblies (first Thanksgiving, with our own turkey song, a fun skit and a special appearance by a teacher dressed as Mr. Turkey himself, and then Christmas, also filled with singing and costumes and general holiday festivity). Then there are the Secret Santas, the holiday parties, and the candy canes that seem to magically appear throughout the school sometime in December. Schoolwork slows a bit, made even less daunting by the promise of a two week mid-winter vacation.
When all the craziness settles down for a bit I finally have the chance to sit back and relax. I can grab a cozy blanket, sit by the fire and write without the upcoming deadlines and stress taking my mind away from the task at hand. I can spend 3 days breaking out my sourdough starter for the first time, and I can enjoy the blissful quiet of our time away from the city…
…Aaand I can finally share this wonderful recipe with you! It comes from Molly‘s new book, Molly on the Range, which has quickly managed to reach the top of my list of favorite cookbooks. It’s filled with stories, gorgeous photography, and super interesting recipes that are both exciting and nostalgic. My mom is just as big a fan as I am; she explained the beauty of this book well when she said that it’s just filled to the brim with recipes she actually wants to make.
I had the pleasure of meeting Molly at one of the stops on her book tour (at the West Elm in DUMBO, in collaboration with Food Book Fair!) She was incredibly sweet and bubbly, just as one would guess based on her writing. By the time I got home that night, I had already complied a list of recipes to try that weekend.
This chocolate tahini cake was number one on that list. I’m growing to love tahini more and more these days, and it was made even better with the addition of chocolate (and a hefty dose of sprinkles, because why not). This cake is super versatile in that it can go from modest snack to party showstopper depending on what you do with it. Bake it in round cake pans as I did, or opt for a 9 by 13 inch pan for a more simple version. In the book, Molly uses a biscuit cutter to make mini cakes–and who isn’t a sucker for mini cakes?
I know Thanksgiving just passed and you may or may not still be in a food coma, but give this one a go sometime soon. For me, for Molly, and for tahini. Okay?
Oh, and one more thing: notice anything different around here? Crumbs and Nibbles just got a major makeover! I’m still getting the hang of things and working out the kinks, but I love the new look and can’t wait to experiment with all of the fun things this new theme has to offer. (And a big big big thank-you to Brett from Counterspace for helping so much with all of this!)
Chocolate Tahini Cake
makes 1 8 or 9 inch layer cake, or 1 9 by 13 inch sheet cake
For the cake:
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup flavorless oil (canola, vegetable or grapeseed will do)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 3/4 cup boiling water
For the frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch pan and line the bottoms with parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, oil and tahini. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Stir in the boiling water.
- Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, around 28 minutes for a round cake and 32 for a sheet cake. Cool for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of their pans and on to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
- Place the butter and tahini in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing until combined, then beat in the salt, cinnamon and vanilla.
If you’re making a layer cake, level the cake rounds, then spread a layer of frosting on one round, using enough that there is some excess. Place the second round on top and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess frosting around the sides of the cake, creating a crumb coat, or a very thin layer of frosting meant to trap any loose crumbs. Add a touch more frosting if needed, then place the cake in the freezer until the frosting has firmed up a bit before adding a final layer of frosting to the top and sides.
If you’re making a sheet cake, just apply a generous layer of frosting to the top of the cake, then cut into squares or use a biscuit cutter to make mini cakes.