Chocolate and Black Sesame Cheesecake Tart

This cheesecake combines the smoothness and richness of a traditional cheesecake custard but infuses it with extra intense flavor from cocoa powder and black sesame paste. Although I love a crustless cheesecake, sometimes a crumbly cookie base will do. This uses delicate butter cookies, a sprinkling of black and white sesame seeds, and a tiny bit of fruity coconut oil to bring it all together. The cheesecake topping isn't too thick, so this can be baked in the oven with no water bath - so easy and quick. Don't forget to dust each slice with lots of rich cocoa powder, and add a big pinch of flaky sea salt too! This is the perfect not-too-sweet dessert to finish any holiday feast with friends and family.



For the sesame cookie crust:

  • 2 ½ cups sugar cookies
  • 2 tablespoon black and white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • unsalted butter or oil to coat the pan

For the cheesecake custard:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated white sugar
  • ½ sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon black sesame paste

For serving:

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flakey sea salt


For the sesame cookie crust:

  1. Add the sugar cookies, sesame seeds, and kosher salt to a bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cookies are a fine crumb. Add the coconut oil and pulse again until the crumb feels damp but not soggy.
  2. Dump the cookie crumb mixture into the All-Clad Pro-Release 9-Inch Round Cake Pan lightly coated in unsalted butter or oil.
  3. Press the crumbs on the surface and slightly up the sides of the pan form. Compact the crumb with the backs of your knuckles to press into place and set. Allow crumbs to chill for 15 minutes.
  4. While crumbs are chilling, preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Transfer the tart form to the oven and bake until the cookie is set and lightly golden around the edges, about 18 minutes.
  6. Remove and let completely cool.

For the sesame cookie crust:

  1. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
  2. Use the bowl of the food processor to cream together the room temperature cream cheese and granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Scrape the mixture well with the All-Clad Silicone Spatula, then add the two eggs. Pulse to combine, until smooth.
  4. Scrape well again, then add the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and black sesame paste. Continue to pulse until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl well. Add the sour cream and kosher salt. Mix to combine
  6. Pour the mixture into the cooled cookie base of the tart and transfer immediately in the oven. Bake until the custard looks puffy around the edges and feels set with no wobble in the center, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  8. To serve, slice the tart with a hot, clean, sharp knife. Dust the surface of each slice with cocoa powder and add a big pinch of flaky sea salt.

Pro Tips:

For smooth, even mixing in the food processor, make sure all of your ingredients (like the eggs, cream cheese, and sour cream) are at room temperature before combining.

If there are any lumps, strain the mixer through a sifter or tea strainer.

Both the crust and the custard can be made in advance. The unbaked tart crust can be stored, wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to a month, and baked from frozen. The custard can be made up to 3 days in advance; just let the mixture come to room temperature before pouring into the cooled crust.


Natasha Pickowicz

Natasha Pickowicz is an NYC-based pastry chef and writer. She is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award finalist, recognition from her time spent running the pastry programs at the award-winning restaurants Altro Paradiso, Flora Bar, and Flora Coffee from their opening in 2016 until March of 2020. Currently, Natasha runs the acclaimed pastry pop-up called Never Ending Taste, which celebrates the relationship between local farming, social justice, and community bake sales. It has been held at NYC’s Superiority Burger, Brooklyn’s The Four Horsemen, the American-Vietnamese bakery Bạn Bè, the Taiwanese tea room Té Company, LA’s Kismet, and San Diego’s Chino Farms. She is now working on her debut cookbook.


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