No-Bake Vanilla Bean Cheesecake For One with Black Sesame Brittle

Sweet, tangy vanilla cheesecake with a crumbly crust, topped with shards of black sesame brittle. 

So much goodness in a 4-inch tart pan. The addition of black sesame? Almost unprecedented, perfect.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of attacking a bought cheesecake in a jar, with a delightful crumbly crust, topped nicely with passionfruit. The first bite made me realise, and later lament, how much I adore cheesecake sometimes. It was my favourite sort of cake thing aged 5 upwards; hot, cold, plain or with something swirled in, I liked it all. The addiction pash waned a few years ago, but recent encounters with good, solid cheesecakes rekindled that familiar joy and pleasure.

Ah, speckles.

What I love about this is that it’s totally customisable, depending on the ingredients you have in stock. Save for the main component of cream cheese, of course. You see, the main base is cream cheese and icing sugar, but the ‘lightening’ components are needed for lift, volume and better distribution of flavours. Now these can be altered. I state whipped coconut cream as one component, but not many people have a can of coconut milk or cream lying around, so whipped cream (or whipped topping) would work just as well. A milder flavour suits the majority, too. And the vanilla bean? Well, life doesn’t end here. Vanilla extract would work as well, but if you’re the sort who doesn’t like to compromise on taste and scent, I strongly suggest going all out, and remember that these beans will always come in handy, for instance in your sugar and in a myriad desserts.

Vanilla bean and black sesame work like a dream together. The latter component is optional, but to spoon a bit of cheesecake onto a small shard of crisp, sweet brittle? Joie de vivre. The actual process of making the brittle isn’t half as hard as it sounds. I know, words like ‘brittle’ might as well be replaced with ‘croissant lamination’ or ‘flambée’. But the only hard thing about this is waiting, and perhaps spreading the brittle into a thin enough layer before it hardens completely. On a side note, things like sesame and flax have compounds called lignans which help to regulate metabolism and weight, and that’s always a plus, right?

No-Bake Cheesecake For One With Black Sesame Brittle


For the cheesecake:

25g biscuits (I used Nice biscuits, but you can use graham crackers/ oreo cookies/ anything you have on hand)

10g melted butter

70g cream cheese, at room temperature

20g icing sugar (no need to sift)

1 heaping tbsp nut butter such as peanut butter or almond butter/ tahini (I used tahini)

2 tbsp whipped coconut cream/ whipped cream

the insides of half a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

For the black sesame brittle:

200g (1 cup) white sugar

60ml (1/4 cup) water

4 tbsp black sesame seeds

30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter

pinch salt


If you’re using coconut cream in your cheesecake base, then start prep the night before. Take a can of coconut milk/coconut cream (the label can be either) and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning you should have a thick, firm white cream. If you’re using normal whipped cream, whip up a batch the night before and let set in the fridge so it’s more stiff the next morning when ready to use.

Place your biscuits in a small ziploc bag and zip the top tightly. Take a rolling pin and bash the biscuits until you get fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter and incorporate well with your fingers (on the outside of the ziploc bag, of course). Pour into a small tart (should be 3-4 inches wide), or a small jar/cup, and press into an even layer with your fingers. In a medium bowl and with a metal whisk, whisk together all the ingredients listed above needed for the cheesecake.  The bowl needn’t be anything larger than medium since there’s not much volume to work with anyway (hoorah for a cheesecake all to yourself!!). Scrape the mix into your tart/jar/cup and place in the fridge to firm up. It’s ready for consumption in just 30 minutes, but you can eat it whenever.

Black sesame brittle? Easier than it sounds. I based the recipe off Joanne Chang’s Flour recipe for cacao nib brittle, and though I would have preferred a thinner, lacier texture, this still worked fine by me and the rest of my family. Grease and line a large baking sheet and set aside (the top of the baking sheet should be well greased too). In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and water. Place on high heat and let come to a hard boil. Let the mixture continue to boil for 5-8 minutes, or until you get a light brown colour. At this point, pour in the black sesame seeds and swirl pan in a circular motion to distribute, or do so gently with a wooden spoon. Let mixture continue to boil until the colour deepens to a deeper, richer amber-gold colour. Then, whisk in the butter and salt. Take off the heat and pour onto the baking sheet and spread into a thin layer with a spatula or wooden spoon. Work quickly because the mixture hardens with time. A couple of minutes later you can break the layer of black sesame brittle into shards, or pieces as big or small as you like.

Stick shards into the cheesecake and eat both components together. I like to spoon the cheesecake onto the sharp, sweet bits chockfull of black sesame seeds. YUM.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse

Black and white. OK, green and white. It’s balance, it’s harmony, it’s almost meant to be.

I’m all for avocado and all the variations it can take on. This will be a short one, because I’m aching to get the directions out; it’s ridiculously easy and delicious. Plop everything into your blender or food processor and you’re in the groove. Chocolate avocado mousse has been done before, aka the wholesome take on a classic chocolate pudding. Look, I love the green stuff, but I still think a good chocolate pudding deserves to be just that– sinfully chocolatey, donned in cream and your normal sugar. But wait! Let’s think thick, rich, glorious breakfast toast spreads here. Maybe a snack, or something along those lines. With dark chocolate done, why not experiment with white? This one here incorporates both dark and white chocolate, with a few different ingredients thrown in here and there to enhance the chocolate theme, simultaneously complementing the natural richness and creaminess of avocado.

I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of the white chocolate variant in particular. The incorporation of the special ingredient –tahini– is what made it lush, thick and deliciously spreadable. No graininess, nothing. Just ease. Smoothness, a slight hint of salt, the childlike sweetness from melted white chocolate. That’s what I love about white chocolate. It appears to lack dimension and sophistication, but it’s the perfect medium for so many other things.

Avocado Yin Yang Mousse


For the dark chocolate take:

half an avocado

2 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder

1 tbsp honey/ maple syrup

1 tsp milk of choice

pinch salt

For the white chocolate take:

half an avocado

30g white chocolate, melted in the microwave

2 tbsp milk of choice

1 tbsp tahini (optional, but highly, highly recommended)

pinch salt


Blend the ingredients for the respective versions together in a food processor or blender. If you wish to make both (of course!), start with the white chocolate take first so that you won’t have to wash out your blender or processor after dealing with the cocoa/cacao powder. Spread on toast or eat on its own, maybe with a couple of dark chocolate truffles, mmm. This will keep for a week in the fridge.

Try This Toast Combination Now

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to give up on a lot. But fret not, for you’ll have a slice of toast that will get you over that hump.

It’s the perfect little snack, or breakfast if you have a birdy appetite, like me on some days. I can attest to its pre-yoga workout effectiveness. Energy boosting, almost wholesome. Here is a slice of whole wheat toast, half slathered in tahini, maple syrup and salt, half with a generous coat of butter and marmalade. 

The second bit is a classic, the sort of thing you might fall back on at an endless breakfast buffet (or if you’re a plain old novice). I love love love butter and jam on most days, and some days it’s good old almond/peanut butter, honey and a pinch of maldon salt. Today demanded a switch in routine, and so this was born.

Directions (because the ‘Ingredients’ bit isn’t necessary, right?)

Take one slice of any sort of bread you like (preferable whole wheat, sourdough or a dark rye), and toast in your toaster. Cut in half any which way, then top half with butter and marmalade (or jam, if you don’t have any marmalade, but marmalade is still the best option!), and the other half with tahini, maple syrup, and  apinch of coarse salt (Maldon). Eat the halves separately or, for optimal pleasure, sandwich together and bite. Savour that crunch, then the nuttiness mixing with the sweet jammy middle. A tick of salt at the end. Savour, swallow, maybe repeat.

Tahini Oat Pillow Pancakes

Time has unleashed a spawn of ideas and fresh inspiration.

Though I’m happy to finally get back into the groove of food photography and recipe development, the past couple of weeks were much needed respite. The days fuelled anticipation for Fall in London, and although I know I won’t ever be able to bake or create anything much after that time, I feel as if this blog has really grown to become a part of me, a part I can’t and never will forsake. It’s shed new meaning upon my life; I don’t feel more alive or myself when in the kitchen, fiddling with and tweaking jottings in my notebook. I have my other passions, but this will always be an inherent part of me, like a child I must help grow and nurture. Therefore, I have keenly decided that I will continue updates here, though of course much less frequently!

The plan now will be to post once or twice a week, and the focus will be shifted to creating more breakfast-type recipes. I’ve always had an inappropriate obsession with breakfast culture, and adore that combination of simple, sweet and healthy. No, my recipes are not always the healthiest, but that’s only because I don’t believe in any modern fad. Go gluten-free if you have coeliac disease, by all means, or maybe even just for fun, but don’t impose the juicing monster (which is, literally, quite green) on anyone who doesn’t feel as if tip-top wellness is a necessary factor for emotional, spiritual or intellectual growth. Or for life in general, for that matter. I recently read this article which I readily relate to and agree with, discussing the modern health obsession and its ironic correspondence with young ‘health foodies’ found everywhere online and on social media (go on, read it!). The mixing of health and science must be monitored, and diet cannot be wholly dictated by a few paragraphs you may read online written by a young pretty lady in a sports bra. Let’s just be real. One will not die eating pancakes every Sunday, and some choose not to, which is totally ok. We all know we need ‘balance’, but the point of middle ground is different for everyone, is it not?

Anyways. Despite my passion for eating and making French pastry, some varieties of which I have yet to attempt (but shall do so in due time!), I know that doing so isn’t feasible in the near future. Sometimes, practicality is sacrifice, but it’s also a means for exposure and pushing creative boundaries.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pancake time.

A few days ago in London, I came across the most charming café in Islington, and my good friend (hey Celeste!) and I simply couldn’t resist strolling in even after our heavy brunch (now that I recall, we had pancakes, which is so de rigueur… Then again, when is it not?). Nut butters, pre-made sandwiches and bottles of tahini lined the shelves, alongside other bits and bobs of artisan produce. I felt it a bit of a sin if I didn’t walk out with something, so tahini it was, and tahini I’m glad. A short aside here–we also enjoyed delicious coffee, tea, and the best lemon pistachio cake slice ever. I’m thinking of it now, and the thinking is pain.

Having never properly experimented with the mildly salty sesame paste before, I decided to incorporate it into my favourite base pancake recipe, which yields the fluffiest, moreish, pillow-like texture ever. Thick and fluffy aside, a soft and tender surface may be easily broken with a fork to reveal a pale interior studded with oats. The mildly salty tahini lends perfect contrast to the sweet batter, and it also means no additional salt is needed in the recipe. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy.

With tahini, maple syrup and chunks of homemade banana bread

Tahini Oat Pancakes (makes 8 3-inch pancakes)


125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour, or half whole wheat and half all-purpose

40g (1/2 cup) whole rolled oats

3/4 cup milk of choice (I played with soy this time round)

10g unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp tahini

1 tsp honey

2 tbsp white sugar

1 egg

splash vanilla extract


Preheat a medium saucepan on low-medium heat, and ready some butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients– flour, two leavening agents and sugar. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, honey, tahini, melted butter and vanilla extract. Pour most of the ingredients into the dry mix; I say most because you may not need all the liquid. I used all of mine and yielded a nice, thick batter, but just exercise a teensy bit of caution. You want it to be thick and slightly lumpy after mixing briefly with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Butter the preheated pan. There should be a sizzle when you flick a bit of water onto the pan. Using a tablespoon measurement (for 3-inch pancakes), ladle the batter into the pan. Once you see a few bubbles spread throughout the surface, go ahead and flip to cook the other side. Serve a couple warm on a plate, topped with more tahini, maple syrup, and whatever else your heart desires.