I discovered Molly Yeh through the 2015 Saveur Blog Awards, where she won both the Best Baking and Desserts and the Blog of the Year awards. I was instantly drawn to her soft, somewhat moody photography and quickly discovered as I started binging her past posts that her images contrasted with her quirky personality. She refused to capitalize words, sprinkled exclamation points everywhere, was a champion at self-deprecating, and made more jokes per sentence than I ever thought possible. She infused her dishes with her rich Jewish-Asian heritage and created recipes that felt both on trend yet delicious and actually doable. I was captivated—so much so that I started tweeting to and about her using the hashtag #girlcrush, something I had never done before and have not done since (hey, it was a bit embarrassing).
Molly Yeh is a Julliard graduate who moved to a farm in North Dakota with her fifth-generation farmer husband. On her blog, My Name is Yeh, you’ll sometimes read about her farm life (and her cute chickens!) and often about her spectacular desserts. Her savory dishes aren’t too shabby either: her quick shakshuka and unbelievably creamy hummus are just two of my go-to recipes from her blog.
I was eager to hold her book in my hands and read it cover-to-cover the day it arrived. Molly on the Range is a beautiful cookbook, but also a really fun read. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I usually jump in and out of cookbooks, very rarely read the front-of-book sections, and usually skim through headnotes. In Molly’s book, headnotes can spread over pages, but you want to read them all. In fact, remove the recipes and it feels like you’re holding her memoir in your hands. The book is filled with cute pictures of her, her husband, and her farm—and, incredibly, none of it feels forced. There are also beautifully illustrated “infographics” that teach you to make spice blends, sandwiches, and mac ‘n’ cheese. And, of course, pages and pages of mouthwatering recipes I can’t wait to try.
Some of my favorite dishes from Molly on the Range so far:
- Sesame Coffee Cake, flavored with a spice blend called hawaij, which I had never heard of before but want to sprinkle everywhere now;
- Hummus, forever and always;
- Shakshuka Couscous, a hyper-comforting, super-filling brunch dish—I expect it to become our go-to winter meal!
Some of the recipes I can’t wait to try:
- Spätzle with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon, because I’ve forever been wanting to make spätzle (and also, you know, bacon);
- Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos, which look like flavor bombs;
- “Seeduction” Challah, because I’ve never had challah and this recipe seems to be the perfect place to start.
But first and foremost, Molly’s book has gotten me obsessed with using tahini in desserts. I love sesame in sweet dishes, but for some reason, I had never thought of using tahini in cakes and cookies. Strange, considering that nut butters are among my favorite ingredients—I guess I just needed to be shown the way.
I’m head over heels in love with these cupcakes. How had I not yet realized that chocolate and tahini were such a perfect match? I often find buttercream insipid, and I admit I usually have a hard time indulging without some form of guilt. To me, frosting must be flavorful, otherwise I just feel like I’m eating butter by the spoonful, and that’s not a feeling I like. This tahini buttercream is legit: it’s slightly nutty, intriguing, and perfectly fluffy. I’d call it a sweet hummus if I weren’t afraid of putting you off. But I’ve seen chocolate hummus before, so why not? Toasty tahini buttercream + deep, dark chocolaty cupcakes = totally irresistible.
If you’ve been feeling cupcake fatigue for the past few years, this is your remedy. If you can’t get over your cupcake fatigue, simply bake the batter in a single round pan and call it a cake—or better yet, split the cake in two, and spread the tahini buttercream inside and out and all around. Fancy! Whatever you do, just promise you’ll lick that bowl of tahini buttercream clean.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Cupcake fatigue? This recipe is your remedy. The tahini buttercream is slightly nutty and perfectly fluffy: a perfect match to the dark chocolate cupcakes!
25 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and coffee. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), combine the oil, sugar, and egg, and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. At low speed, incorporate the dry ingredient and buttermilk-coffee mixture, alternating between the two. Mix until just incorporated (do not overbeat).
Spoon some batter into each cavity of the prepared muffin pan until they are two-thirds full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.
For the tahini buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and tahini until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix to combine. Mix in the vanilla extract, nutmeg, and salt, and beat until the frosting is fluffy.
To assemble the cake: Transfer the tahini buttercream to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and generously frost the cupcakes. Alternatively, simply use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes, freehand-style. To create the modern look pictured above, fetch for a cookie cutter that is exactly the size of the top of the cupcakes. Place it over a cupcake, then fill it with tahini buttercream. Slowly lift the cookie cutter and use an offset spatula to smooth the sides. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds at will. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Make sure to return the cupcakes to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving to soften the tahini buttercream.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes by Marie Asselin;
Tahini Buttercream adapted from Molly Yeh.
Win a Copy of Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from An Unlikely Life on a Farm
The giveaway is over! Thanks to everyone who entered.
How to enter the giveaway Mandatory: Post a comment to this post answering the question: What dessert does tahini inspire you to make? Optional: Take advantage of all the social media options in the Rafflecopter widget below to get more chances to win. When entering through social media, make sure I can recognize your name/address so I can reach you if you win. The fine print You must provide a US or Canadian address to to win. Each winner needs to answer a simple skill question to get the prizes. The giveaway ends Friday, October 28, 2016, at midnight EST. Good luck to everyone!