Whole-grain, sugar-free, oil-free, and easily vegan
Happy #ThrowbackThursday! In this post, I am taking it back to this time of last year (October 2015), when I came up with an idea for making an orange-and-black tinted cake, perfect for Halloween! 👻 I started off with a Pumpkin Spice Cake 🎃 and then swirled on top dollops of luscious black sesame seed butter to ultimately create this Black Sesame Swirled Pumpkin Spice Marble Cake Bars, or simply, “Tiger Bars.” 🐯
These Tiger Bars are particularly special to me because they’ve brought me a lot of happy surprises. 😊
The first surprise was how scary good these turned out.
Swirling nut butter on top of cake batter was something I hadn’t tried before making this cake. I came up the idea simply because I wanted to create an orange-and-black cake, and the only naturally black colored ingredient I had in my at-the-time college pantry was black sesame seeds (I hadn’t discovered activated charcoal powder at that time). Point is, I had no clue whether the black sesame butter swirl would work or not, and before putting the cake in the oven, I had many apprehensions.
Would the nut butter sink to the bottom of the cake as it bakes? Will the nut butter just weigh the cake down, causing it to not rise in the oven? Does black sesame and pumpkin even go well together?! Luckily, to my surprise, the cake not only turned out glorious but also delicious! 🐯
The second surprise was, after my cake bars turned out to be a success, I wanted to share it on my Instagram, just when I was about to post a photo onto Instagram, The Feed Feed had announced that they were hosting a Fall Cooking Competition, and if you simply hashtag your home-cooked food photo with something like #FeedFeedFall (I’ve totally forgotten the official hashtag haha), you can easily enter the competition. So I included the hashtag in my post, not expecting to win at all but did it as a “what the heck why not” sort of thing, and totally forgot about it.
Weeks later, to my surprise, I get a message from The Feed Feed saying that I’d made it to the Final round of the competition! I totally did not expect this because compared to accounts, my Instagram is pretty small. Anyways, at that point, I needed to ask friends and family to vote for me. I asked but did not expect to get many votes… Long story short, I was again surprised when I found out that I had won the Community Title! I was so happy and grateful for everyone who took the time to vote. The final surprise was that I won a bunch of cool prizes like Simply Organic spices, a really nice marble board (worth like hundreds apparently), artisan spoons, silicon baking mats (those were my favorite), and more!
And so, there you have it, the story of my ✧magical✧ Tiger Bars and how they’ve brought me so many serendipitous moments. 🐯 Maybe I’m the good witch 😘 behind this recipe, and the combination of the turmeric, pumpkin, and black sesame creates a sort of good luck charm. Whatever it is, this scary good cake is perfect for Halloween or any day full of spooks!
Anyways, thank you for reading my long-winded story, and finally, here’s my improved “repost” of last year’s blog post and recipe. It’s pretty much the same post as last year, but I proofread and heaviled revised my writing, as well as correcting a very important part of the recipe, so read below.
I hope you enjoy these Tiger Bars! 🎃 Happy Fall and Halloween!
A healthy Halloween dessert that looks outrageously amazing and, even better, tastes like a total treat? Is this a Trick or a Treat? 👻
Did I mention it’s healthy? It’s also oil-free, sugar-free, and is easily veganized.
Presenting: soft and fudgy Pumpkin Spice Cake, swirled with beautiful black sesame butter.
For those who has never tried black sesame butter before, it’s pretty much black tahini. I’m hesitant to use the word “tahini” because it implies that this black sesame butter originated from the Middle East, when it is an Asian ingredient; but I don’t know how else to explain it. Anyways, I believe Middle Eastern tahini is made from unhulled sesame seeds, but Asian sesame butters are made from hulled & toasted sesame seeds. The tastes of the two butters, from the two separate continents, are completely different. Anyways, black sesame butter is just made with black (as opposed to white) sesame seeds.
Black sesame butter is common in Asian and Chinese desserts, and you can find it at any Asian grocery store. While it isn’t an expensive item, black sesame butter looks, feels, and tastes, to me, rather luxurious.
Around Halloween time, pumpkin and dark chocolate is a popular dessert combo to get that “black and orange” look, but it’s more like “dark brown” and orange. I think the black sesame + pumpkin fits the Halloween look better, and the flavors of black sesame + pumpkin surprisingly complement each other very well! When the two are swirled together, it gives the cake a very groovy look, as if it’s wearing a tiger costume, haha. 🐯
This Pumpkin Swirl Cake looks glorious and may seem like an impressively difficult Halloween dessert, but it’s actually quite simple and very easy to make. And as you can tell from the pics, the texture of the cake is very soft, moist, cakey with a slight fudginess to it. In fact, I was really tempted to call these “Pumpkin-ies” because they remind my of a pumpkin cake cross a fudge brownie, but then no one would get it, haha.
Besides the delicious taste and awesome texture, the best part of this cake is — are you ready? — I didn’t add any oil or fat to the pumpkin spice batter. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how good — like Halloween scary good — it turned out. The cake has a nice and light crumb, but when you bite into it, it’s like melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin-y fudgy goodness. 🙂
Speaking of texture, I think it’s the pumpkin puree that’s doing the magic. The pumpkin gives this cake its awesome light fudginess, allowing me to reduce the fat to basically zero, while additionally giving it a boost of Vitamin A. 💪
Speaking of vitamins, you might notice that this cake is bright orange! It comes from the pumpkin, yes, but also from turmeric! No food dye necessary. 😉 If you don’t know, turmeric is powerhouse of a spice. It holds a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I for one have been using turmeric for years, and I’ve grown to love its taste. However, many people who are new to this spice might find it too strong, so you can definitely scale back on the turmeric, or just add a pinch or two for color, or just omit it.
The cake will still be tasty and healthy because it is 100% whole grain, sugar-free, and pretty much fat-free. So, to add that decadence, I swirled in black sesame butter on top. I seriously LOVE biting into this cake because the black sesame butter gives it a nice “crust.” Yum!
I get so excited just by looking at this cake, and I don’t know if it’s the upcoming holiday season, or if it’s the Princeton pride beaming out of me.
Just look at it! Isn’t it perfect for Halloween and/or Reunions? 🐯
Before I leave you with the recipe, because this post is full of surprises I’ve experienced, I wanted to give y’all a couple of mini surprises.
The first being, there’s a vegan version to these magical Tiger Bars! The how-to on veganizing this cake is below!
Second, here’s a sneak peak of my Red Lava Swirl Bars (in the background of the pic below). I got that awesome red color without any food dye, so if y’all are interested in knowing how, let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @vivianrtang!
So like I said, I tried and tested a vegan version of this cake. This cake is easily veganized because the only non-vegan ingredient is one egg. To replace the egg, I added some flax and upped the almond milk.
Here are the results.
As you can tell from the photo, the vegan version of this cake did not rise as well as the original version that includes one egg. That said, I still think it is very yummy; it just has a lot more fudge than cake. So if you are vegan, you can definitely make these bars as well! Just know that it’s more dense (but still delish).
So like I said, this recipe is from last year, and in my original post, I actually made a big mistake. I wrote to add 1/2 tsp turmeric; not 1-5 dashes. I have a friend who tried my recipe, and this is what happened! Her cake turned out red! Oops! I felt so bad, but at least she seemed to like it? Haha. So here is my recipe with the correct amounts.
- 1 8×8 square pan, 9 or 16 squares (I cut it into 16 smallish pieces)
- 60g (1.33 cups) oat flour
- 120g (3/4 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt
- 1-5 dashes of turmeric (optional: if you want that extra orangey color)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cage-free egg (vegan version is in notes)
- 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 30-50 drops of pure liquid stevia to taste (or granulated stevia or 1⁄4 -1⁄3 cup of maple syrup / sugar)
- 2 tbsp black sesame butter for swirling*
- First prep your baking pan. I first greased my pan well with coconut oil and then lined it with parchment paper to ensure that it wouldn’t stick.
- Then, preheat your oven to 350*F.
- Mix dry ingredients with a whisk. In another bowl, add the egg and whisk until uniform. Add in the pumpkin puree, almond milk, vanilla, stevia/sweetener. Mix until combined. Then add the wet to the dry ingredients and gently fold. Be careful not to overmix! Pour into the prepared pan.
- Then plop on your black sesame butter and swirl it with a chopstick.
- pumpkin cake pumpkin cake
- Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes! And you get this glorious cake.
This Tiger Bar Cake truly is magic. Try it, and you can trick everyone this Halloween into loving this actually-healthy treat. 😉 Don’t forget to share your creation with me on Instagram!