Love and Olive Oil

Black Pearl Cupcakes

Black Pearl Cupcakes with Wasabi, Ginger, and Black Sesame Seeds

So I had this idea. Inspired by a cake recipe that used one of the most interesting combination of flavors I’ve seen. Called the “Black Pearl,” this particular cake featured chocolate laced with wasabi and ginger, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds. I couldn’t get it out of my head. And you know what happens when I get something in my head… it has to be made.

I was scared to death of these cupcakes, the first time that’s ever really happened. Taylor was scared too. I told him about my evil wasabi-chocolate scheme and I could see the fear in his eyes (and I don’t blame him, he knew he would have to eat at least one regardless of how disgusting they might be). See, I’ve had cupcake disasters before. Exploding and sinking and bubbling over cupcakes, even some that were just plain inedible. But none of these cupcakes had ever involved *gulp* wasabi. And that scared the crap out of me. I knew that these could go one of two ways, either I’d be too timid with the wasabi and you wouldn’t even be able to taste it, or we’d have smoke coming out of our ears and eyeballs after just one bite. And honestly, I’d prefer the former (obviously), so I was cautious with the wasabi to say the least. And sure enough, you really can’t even taste the stuff. There may have been the faintest tinge of heat in the aftermath of eating one of these dark beauties, but even 1 tablespoon of wasabi can’t compare to a measly 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne in the Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes. Sizzle? No. Delicious? Yes.

My advice? Be brave, but be cautious. Start with 1 tablespoon of wasabi powder, mix it up, taste a bit. Add some more, taste it again. Continue adding at your own discretion. Who’s to say that our wasabi powder wasn’t old and faded (which it very well could have been), thus skewing our results towards the mild side… I just don’t want to be responsible for setting anyone’s mouth on fire.

Black Pearl Cupcakes with Wasabi, Ginger, and Black Sesame Seeds Black Pearl Cupcakes with Wasabi, Ginger, and Black Sesame Seeds

(And psst!! Remember those super cute, pumpkin “mummy” cupcakes from last weekend? You should really go vote for them in October’s Cupcake Hero! My banana cupcakes came in 5th place in last month’s contest, and I’d really love love love for these to win! Thank you in advance for your vote!)

Black Pearl Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes.

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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)

For 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


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.

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!

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  1. Adding ginger to the icing makes it go sludge brown. I doubt the pictures here….. 

  2. I could only find wasabi paste- what do you think!?

  3. Hi there! I run a blog called Floptimism, and I’ve started a weekly post called the Weekend Wrap-Up where I feature some of my favorite web finds from the past week. I wanted to let you know that I loved this black sesame cupcake and the beautiful pictures from this post so much that I included it in my round-up. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  4. I made these yesterday and while the idea is AMAZING I don’t think my spices were quite fresh which, as others have said above, is key for a good flavor. I bought my wasabi powder just last week but it was not wasabi-ish in the least!!! I even tasted it straight and felt no sinus explosion :( My ginger was none too fresh either, though that was my own fault. If I make these again I’ll be sure to use fresh ginger and get good wasabi powder. I really liked the cake texture…light and fresh and fluffy! I added a pinch of salt to the frosting but would probably add more for balance.

  5. I made these last weekend and they were fantastic! They reminded me of an asian version of mexican hot chocolate. Will be making many more of these in the future.

  6. Oh boy… I really hope I didn’t hurt anyone! heh. I had a feeling that might be the case… actually bought some new wasabi powder this week, going to make another batch of these tomorrow. And I’ll definitely update the recipe if we find them *too* spicy this time!

  7. I just made these and they are fantastic! The end result, though, makes me think there might in fact be a problem with your wasabi powder. They aren’t *hot* as in, way spicy hot, but you can definitely feel a little bite of wasabi. Mostly they are more aromatic, flavorful, and leave you with a warm sensation. This is with only one tablespoon of fresh wasabi, purchased yesterday.

  8. I have to say the Black Pearl truffle from vosges was probably one of coolest things I’ve ever eaten. So the idea of this cupcake being made in basically the same vein makes me drool.


  9. Very interesting flavour combination – I don’t know if I am daring enough :P

  10. They’re gorgeous! And wasabi and chocolate is a new one one me, but it makes sense. And good luck! Just voted for you.

  11. These are absolutely beautiful! I am excited to try these, they are super adventurous and right up my alley… :)

    Also, your mummy cupcakes are amazing… good luck!

  12. They look great! I am headed over to vote right now! Good luck!

  13. Wow that sounds amazing and so interesting!!

  14. I don’t care if they blow my head off, I just want to look at them..they are so beautiful.

  15. For sure! I want to get some fresher wasabi powder and try them again, really up the heat. :) Will definitely let you know when they’re ready! Could be as soon as this week. hehe.

  16. OMG. Did you know Nathan loves sweet treats with heat?! He’s gotten chocolate wasabi paletas, and chili/pineapple/tamarind paleta. (Both from Las Paletas) Wow! If you ever make these again, you must share! PLEASE!

  17. Beautiful, as always! I can see serving these on New Year’s Eve, but I don’t know if I can wait until then. I love ginger and wasabi together when I eat sushi, just haven’t tried them with chocolate, too.

    BTW, I was lucky enough to receive a set of the cupcake recipe cards from your wedding. I tucked them into my daughter’s birthday card a couple of weeks ago. She is now a fan of your site as well. Thanks again.

    Appreciate the info on the decorating tip. I’ll head over to right now.

  18. I love the name–Black Pearl Cupcakes…it sounds exotic and mysterious, all rolled into one. Its an intriguing combination too…wasabi and chocolate. Would you recommend doubling the amount of wasabi powder for a more distinct wasabi flavor? Or do you think it’d overpower the chocolate?

  19. Wasabi – wow! That really puts the chilli chocolate cupcakes I’ve just made into the shade. Not only do your cakes always look fantastic, but you come up with such interesting combinations. Haven’t yet made one of your recipes but I’m gearing up to it.

  20. Katie – the tip is a jumbo closed star tip… purchased from Much bigger than your standard frosting tips, so you get a nice big swirl. ;)

    Simone – exactly the reason for my disclaimer. :) but also keep in mind the tablespoon is spread amongst 12 cupcakes, which leaves very little wasabi in each one. Yes, if you went and ate a tablespoon of wasabi all by itself, you’d probably need medical care, but it’s not as strong when the other factors and ingredients are taken into account. :)

    Lily – a chocolate bar? really? must try to find this ASAP!

  21. so many good things in this post.

    1. vegan cupcakes
    2. wasabi and chocolate (which i’ve been wanting to try)
    3. soy creamer IS a substitute for heavy cream. thank you.
    4. ummmm…chocolate?

    yeah. you get the idea. so pretty!!

  22. The Black Pearl is actually a chocolate bar made by the company Vosges (great chocolate!) Ever since I had one a few years ago, I’ve been tinkering with the idea of recreating the flavors in cupcake form. Thanks to you, now I don’t have to come up with my own recipe! I can’t wait to make these.

  23. They sure look gorgeous, but as for the wasabi… it must have been a bit older the powder as two tbsp of wasabi would normally set anyone on fire I would think…:) Very brave adding that into a cupcake!

  24. They look beautiful! What tip do you use to get that look. I’m a frosting tip beginner and I can never really get the frosted tops to look the way I’d like them to.

  25. Hi Lindsay,

    I discovered your blog a little while ago, and I love it! I’ve been reading lots of archived recipes and have tried a few.

    The big problem is that I don’t eat sugar, so I can’t make any of the delicious looking treats you make!

    I do use honey, agave nectar, date syrup, splenda, etc. Have you ever tried baking with any of these with good results? I’d love to see some recipes with sugar replacements.


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