small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

a couple of months ago I set out to make a small cake. a small, 6 inch cake to be exact. I became a little obsessed with this idea after reading this article. with this newly realized obsession, I set out to make my favorite kind of cake. chocolate cake, of course! I’m also a big fan of using tahini in baking, so it was only a matter of time until this cake combo came together. after MANY, many trials and more chocolate cake than I could ever eat, this small chocolate tahini buttercream cake became a recipe! it was a BIG celebration for me to finally get this perfectly tiny cake! read on to find out why I love this little cake so much!

small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

in a few words, this little chocolate cake is

  • tiny
  • moist
  • rich
  • deep chocolate flavor
  • sweet
  • complemented with a salty sweet frosting
  • the perfect size for 2-4 people
    • no leftovers
    • the perfect amount of cake per slice (not too little or too much!)
small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

add these sweet ingredients to your grocery list

this small chocolate tahini buttercream cake uses just a handful of delicious ingredients

  • all purpose flour
  • dutch process cocoa powder
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • espresso powder
  • semi sweet chocolate chips
    • or a few squares from a 60-70% chocolate bar
  • canola oil
  • granulated sugar
  • egg
  • sour cream
    • or whole milk greek yogurt
  • whole milk
  • powdered sugar
  • tahini
    • I really like this brand
    • you could also use another nut butter
    • just make sure its a single ingredient kind (aka, not sweetened or creamy, etc)
  • vanilla extract
  • chocolate bar
    • for shaving chocolate
  • chocolate sprinkles

special baking tools for the perfect 6 inch cake

this small chocolate tahini buttercream cake was created to be easy to make at home. however, you will need a a couple of special tools

  • 6X3 aluminum baking pan
    • this is the one used and LOVE
    • technically you can use a 6X2 pan if needed
    • alternatives: cupcakes (makes 6) or double the recipe to fit 8″ or 9″ round cake pans
  • mixing bowls
    • large: to make the cake batter
    • small: to mix the espresso and chocolate chips
  • large or medium sized whisk
  • stand mixer with paddle attachment
    • or electric hand held mixer with beaters
    • to make the butter cream
  • icing spatula
    • makes icing the cake so easy!
  • parchment paper
    • for lining the bottom of the cake pan
small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

tips and tricks for a perfect small cake

best substitutions for this recipe:

  • all purpose flour
    • to make this gluten free, try a 1:1 replacement flour
  • dutch process cocoa powder
    • this is preferred for this recipe, but if needed use
    • unsweetened cocoa powder
    • omit the baking powder and use 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • brewed espresso
    • this promotes a more intense chocolate flavor
    • sub 1:1 with hot tea or hot water
  • canola oil
    • sub with another neutral oil such a vegetable or avocado
    • for a buttery taste, use melted butter
  • sour cream
    • use a full fat thick yogurt such as skyr or greek
    • this wasn’t tested with a dairy free yogurt, but I think one could work well
  • whole milk
    • sub with any milk of choice
    • however the higher fat content, the better
  • tahini
    • any natural nut butter works well here
    • use one that pairs well with chocolate, such as peanut butter
    • you can also use a store bought frosting

tips and tricks for this recipe:

  • use room temperature ingreidents
  • sift the dry ingredients together before whisking (no lumps!)
  • make this recipe by hand
    • this recipe tested better when done this way
  • line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper
  • lightly spray the pan with non stick spray
  • fully preheat the oven
  • look for the signs the cake is finished baking
    • smells very fragrant
    • cake edges are pulled slightly from the sides of the pan
    • toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs
    • press a finger on top of the center of the cake
      • if it bounces back with no indentation, the cake is done
      • if it stays, the cake needs another 5-10 minutes (check back in 3-5)
  • cool the cake in the pan for 10-15 minutes
  • cool the cake completely to room temperature
  • apply a crumb coat of frosting to the cake
  • the colder the cake, the easier it is to frost the cake
small chocolate tahini buttercream cake
small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

more small batch recipes to try

small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

small chocolate tahini buttercream cake

moist chocolate cake topped with a salty sweet tahini buttercream, shaved chocolate and chocolate sprinkles. this small chocolate tahini buttercream cake is the perfect small batch cake to serves 2-4 chocolate loving people!
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Cooling Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Celebrations, Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 2-3 mixing bowls
  • large or medium whisk
  • 6X2 or 6X3 cake pan
  • parchment paper
  • stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric hand mixer with beaters


small chocolate cake

  • 1/2 c (60g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 c (24g) dutch process cocoa powder see recipe notes
  • 1 tsp (3.5g) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp (1oz) semi sweet chocolate chips sub with chopped 60-70% chocolate
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) prepared espresso 2 tsp ground espresso, plus 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1/3 c (79ml) canola oil see recipe notes
  • 2/3 c (134g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (57g) large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 c (61g) sour cream or whole milk greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/4 c (59ml) whole milk, room temperature

tahini buttercream

  • 1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c (76g) tahini, well stirred
  • 1 c (125g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • chocolate bar shavings for topping
  • small chocolate sprinkles for topping


small chocolate cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Lightly spray and line the bottom of a 6" cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Prepare the espresso according to the package directions. Add the chocolate chips into the hot espresso. Set aside.
    Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. Whisk until well combined with no lumps. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil, sugar and egg until smooth and well combined. The mixture should be very smooth and pale yellow in color.
    Whisk in the sour cream until smooth and well combined. The mxiture will slightly resemble egg whites that have been whipped for a few minutes. In other words, the mixture should remain very smooth and will look very pale yellow.
  • In this order, add the dry ingredients and milk to the wet: dry, milk, dry. Whisk each addition until just combined. A few flour or milk streaks is OK.
    While whisking, pour in the melted chocolate/espresso mix. Whisk everything until smooth, almost glossy and well combined.
  • Pour the batter into a prepared 6X2 or 6X3 (preferred) cake pan. The batter will be runny, so this should be easy.
    Bake at 350F (177C) on the center rack of the oven for 35-40 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, take a look at the cake. If the center still looks wet, let the cake bake an additional 5 minutes.
    At 35 minutes look for the signs the cake is done baking: the edges of the cake will pull slightly away from the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center will yield a few moist crumbs. When a finger is pressed into the top of the center of the cake, the cake should bounce back. If the batter leaves an imprint of the finger, give the cake another 3-5 minutes to bake before checking again.
  • Cool the cake in the pan placed on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto the rack. The cake should easily slide out of the pan. If not, use a butter knife to gently release the edges of the cake from the pan.
    Cool the cake completely before adding the buttercream. After an hour cooling at room temperature, the cake can be moved to the fridge to chill before applying the buttercream.

tahini buttercream

  • In a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. On the lowest speed, beat in the tahini with butter until well combined. Add 1/2 c powdered sugar, vanilla extract ans salt. Beat on low-medium speed until well combined. Add the remaining half of the sugar, a generous tablespoon at a time, beating until well combined. Once all the sugar is added, beat frosting on med-high until smooth.
  • Apply a light crumb coat the the completely cooled chocolate cake. Chill the cake in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Apply a thicker final layer of buttercream to the cake as desired. Top with chocolate shavings and/or chocolate sprinkles.


the total weight of this batter is 500g or about 2 1/4 c liquid. This amount fills a 6X3 round cake pan half way. If using a 6X2 cake pan, the cake may require a few more minutes of baking. 
  • if using this recipe to make cupcakes, it should yield about 6 cupcakes. bake for about 18-25 minutes. 
dutch process cocoa powder was used to develop this cake. after many rounds of testing, I can say that if needed, this can be subbed with unsweetened cocoa powder. if this is done, omit the baking powder and use 1/4 tsp baking soda instead.
canola oil was used for its moisture and neutral taste. melted butter, olive oil or vegetable oil can be used as a substitute. 
hot espresso enhances the intensity of the chocolate. if needed, hot water or even chai tea can be used as a substitute.
whole milk and whole fat sour cream or yogurt works best in this recipe. I would not use a fat free or low fat substitute for these ingredients. 
Keyword 6 inch cake, almost one bowl cake, small chocolate cake, tahini buttercream
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