If you saw my last post on my teddy bear cookies, you may know I am back from taking a break from Bites by Bianca. It was pretty hectic the past few months, but I’m really excited to get back into posting more regularly again. I have a bunch of ideas planned out and I look forward to seeing them come into fruition!
I created this recipe as an entry for an online holiday baking competition hosted by Subtle Asian Baking and Rooted Fare. The contest requires bakers to use Rooted Fare’s Black Sesame Crunchy Butter, with a chance to be published in their holiday-exclusive recipe book. So, I decided to go with these adorable black sesame Oreo penguin cupcakes. UPDATE: I won!
What is black sesame?
Black sesame is commonly used in Asian cuisines and can come in the form of seeds, powder, or paste. The taste is often described as earthy, nutty, rich, and perfect for balancing out sweet desserts. In this recipe, I used Rooted Fare’s Black Sesame Crunchy Butter, which is plant-based and contains black sesame seeds, peanuts, brown sugar, crunchy breadcrumbs, and vegetable oil. They recommend adding the product to toast, oatmeal, fruit, ice cream, and more. My personal favorite is on homemade bread for breakfast.. and of course, these black sesame cookies & cream penguin cupcakes.
How to make the cupcake batter
First, you’ll cream together the butter and sugar using a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Afterwards, scrape down the bowl using a rubber spatula or bowl scraper. Then, you’ll add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat the mixture again until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. And for the last of the wet ingredients, you’ll stir in the black sesame crunchy butter, then slowly stream in the milk while still mixing.
Once you have your smooth batter, you’ll add all of your dry ingredients at once. Line your cupcake tin with parchment cups, place a chocolate sandwich cookie in each one, fill each cup about 2/3 of the way with the batter, and bake!
How to decorate penguin cupcakes
After your cupcakes are fully cooled, you’ll mix the cream cheese frosting by creaming together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and salt. If your frosting is too runny for your liking, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch at a time to thicken it up. If it’s too thick, you can add a teaspoon of milk. My frosting was a bit runny, which actually made the decorating process easier to smooth out with an offset spatula.
Once you have your frosting, you’ll want to transfer more than half of it to a piping bag. This will be the base color for the penguin’s head. With the remaining batter, add a small amount of pink food coloring, mix, then transfer about 1 tablespoon to another piping bag. This will be for the penguin’s blush.
After, add orange food coloring to your liking, mix, and then transfer about 1.5 tablespoons of the frosting to another piping bag. This will be the penguin’s beak. Lastly, add black food coloring to the remaining icing, mix, then transfer all of it to a new piping bag. This will be the top of the penguin’s head.
To decorate the cupcakes, start off by piping a large dollop of white frosting to each cupcake, then flatten it with an offset spatula. Then, pipe on the black for the top of the head, orange for the beak, black again for the eyes, and pink for the blush. And there you have it: adorable black sesame penguin cupcakes!
Black Sesame Oreo Penguin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 ¼ c all-purpose flour (150g)
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 10 Oreos, roughly chopped
- ½ c unsalted butter, softened (1 stick/8 tbsp)
- ¾ c sugar (150g)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 ½ tbsp Rooted Fare's Black Sesame Crunchy Butter (52g)
- ½ c milk, I used almond (120g)
- 12 chocolate sandwich cookies
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened (113g)
- ¼ c unsalted butter, softened (½ stick/4 tbsp)
- ⅜ c powdered sugar (49g)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- powdered, gel, or liquid food coloring (black, pink, orange)
For the cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners and add one chocolate sandwich cookie to each liner.
- In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and roughly chopped chocolate sandwich cookies.
- In a large bowl, cream the softened unsalted butter and sugar using a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Whisk until the butter is pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula or bowl scraper.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix until combined and the batter is very smooth. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Add black sesame crunchy butter. Whisk until combined.
- While mixing, slowly stream in the milk. Mix until fully combined.
- Dump in all of the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to fold them in. Mix until there are no dry spots of flour left.
- Add batter to each cupcake liner in the tin, filling each one about 2/3 of the way.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs.
- Let cool for about 5 minutes, then move cupcakes to a rack and let them fully cool.
For the cream cheese frosting:
- In a large bowl, use a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer with the paddle attachment to beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar and salt and continue mixing until combined. If it is too runny, you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch at a time while mixing. If it is too thick, you can add a teaspoon of water at a time and mix.
- Transfer a little more than half the frosting into a piping bag or zipoc bag. This will be the white frosting for the penguin's face.
- Add a small drop of pink food coloring to the rest of the batter in the bowl and mix. Transfer about 1 tablespoon of the pink frosting into another piping bag or ziploc bag. This will be for the blush.
- Add orange food coloring to the remaining pink batter. Mix and add more orange food coloring until you get the shade you want, then transfer about 1 ½ tablespoons of the orange frosting into a new piping bag or ziploc bag. This will be the beaks.
- Add black food coloring to the rest of the orange batter. Mix, then transfer all of the frosting to a new piping bag or ziploc bag. This will be for the top of the head.
- Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, you can start decorating! Make sure they are FULLY cooled and not warm at all, or the frosting will start to melt.
- Snip a large tip off the end of the piping bag or ziploc bag with the white frosting. Pipe on a large dollop of white frosting to each cupcake. Then, use a small offset spatula to flatten the frosting.
- Snip a small tip off the end of the black frosting bag. Pipe on a thin layer of the top of the penguin's head. You can use my photos as a reference. Use a clean offset spatula to even out or move the frosting around to your liking.
- Snip a small tip off the end of the orange frosting bag. Pipe on the beaks. I like to do the beaks before the eyes so I can map out where to pipe the eyes more evenly.
- Use the rest of the black icing to pipe on the eyes.
- Snip off a small tip off the pink frosting bag. Add blush to the sides of the penguin's face.