Black Pearl Cupcakes: Wasabi, Ginger, and Black Sesame

Sugar and spice, and everything nice! Kind of. I've had my eye on this recipe for over a year and finally got the guts to try it. Check it.

It's called "Black Pearl" cake and was created by Katrina Markoff, CEO of Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago. The Vosges brand specializes in creating exotic flavors paired with chocolate, hence the Black Pearl: chocolate infused with wasabi, ginger, and black sesame seeds.

Daring, no?

Ginger and chocolate- sure. Black sesame (which is stronger in flavor than the light colored version)- okay. But WASABI? As soon as I announced the ingredients, a shudder went across the town house. Even the cat took off running.

I found two version of the recipe: the original and an adaptation from Love and Olive Oil. The OG is a light chocolate cake with a ginger syrup glaze. The punch is in the ganache filling infused with wasabi, ginger, and sesame seeds. The frosting is buttercream with a bit of ginger. L&O's version has wasabi and ginger in the actual cake. The frosting has a little bit of ginger and is garnished with the black sesames.

The winner? Love and Olive Oil's adaptation. Honestly- I hated my first bite because the cupcakes were still hot and the flavors hadn't come together. The wasabi has a very potent smell! The ganache in the original recipe was too much, personally. It was a sucker punch. I preferred cake and a dash of spice over silky chocolate and a dash of spice.

I don't know if I'll ever make these again but am proud to say I at least did it. Impress your friends- it's a great conversation starter at get togethers and nobody will be able figure out where the subtle heat comes from. Be a little daring for a day!

Black Pearl Cupcakes
from Love and Olive Oil

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1-2 tablespoons wasabi powder (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and wasabi. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix). Take a quick taste of the batter, and add more wasabi if you feel it is needed.

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Ginger Frosting

1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste

Black sesame seeds, for topping

For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla, ginger, and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and enjoy!