This Chocolate Tahini Cake is based on the Crispy Chocolate Cake from Alison Roman’s cookbook called Nothing Fancy, a collection of unfussy recipes for having people over that became an instant New York Times best-seller.

Crispy Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut & Sour Cream

Alison Roman is a columnist for the New York Times Food and Bon Appétit and is famous for her even more famous recipes such as The Cookies, The Stew and The Chicken that amassed thousands of views on Instagram overnight.

By pure coincidence, I met Nikole Herriott who is part of the team that photographed Nothing Fancy and Alison’s previous book, Dining In earlier this year. While in Toronto, I wanted to visit Herriot Grace, a shop I came across on Instagram. My friend Robin called Nikole and arranged a time for us to go. Nikole specially opened her studio for us to browse the collection of her dad’s hand-carved and hand-turned wooden objects, beautiful ceramics from the likes of Sue Pryke and a fabulous collection of vintage props from previous shoots.

As we were chatting and looking at all the beautiful work, I saw a copy of Nothing Fancy on the shelf and asked Nikole what she thought of the book, as I had heard quite a bit about it. Nikole’s answer was, “yes it is great, I photographed it!”.  It was then the penny dropped that this is the same Nikole I follow on Instagram. We spoilt ourselves with some vintage props and a few Sue Pryke bowls which I have used quite bit. Nikole also sent us all home with signed copies of Dining In which was the sweetest gesture.

Crispy Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut & Sour Cream

This Chocolate Tahini Cake is a lovely gluten-free chocolate cake. (I hear the stores have run out of flour as we head into lockdown in South Africa, so the timing of the recipe is bang on). The original recipe calls for hazelnut spread to be added to the batter with the option to replace it with almond butter or tahini. I am still on a tahini vibe (at last count there were 12 other recipes with tahini on heinstirred and you can view them by clicking on this link), so I opted to use tahini. The tahini makes a slightly less sweet cake which is absolutely fine when you are still adding the sour cream and hazelnut spread topping.

I changed the recipe for the topping as it called for double cream and icing sugar in addition to the sour cream and hazelnut spread. I feel that just the sour cream and hazelnut spread is rich and sweet enough with the cake. And I have to say mixing sour cream with hazelnut spread is spectacular! Keep that combo in your arsenal of sweet toppings for any cake. I don’t like frosting because of all the butter and sugar, so mixing sour cream and hazelnut spread is a quick and delicious alternative.

Crispy Chocolate Cake With Hazelnut & Sour Cream

I am pleased to introduce my new cookbook, Drunk and Hungry available as an epub download. As the title states, the book consists of easy and flavourful recipes for when you find yourself drunk, and hungry. Savoury, sweet, vegan, vegetarian, bacon, cheese, spice, and carbs are packed into 15 easy recipes to satisfy your hunger while tantalising your tastebuds. You can purchase the book by clicking on this link and all you need to read it is a free epub reader such as Apple Books, Fullreader or similar.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Chocolate Tahini Cake. If you’ve made the recipe share it with me by tagging @heinstirred on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #heinstirred

Chocolate Tahini Cake


  • 110g butter
  • 225g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 125ml tahini
  • 6 large eggs
  • 150g plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 60g almond flour
  • 30ml cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Topping
  • 250ml sour cream
  • 60ml hazelnut spread


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Grease and line a 20cm springform pan with softened butter or nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Combine the butter, chocolate and tahini in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a small pot of simmering water and heat, stirring often, until the chocolate and butter have melted and you can stir everything together to a smooth, creamy mixture
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside
  5. Separate 4 of the eggs, placing the whites in a large, clean and dry mixing bowl
  6. Place the yolks in another large bowl and add the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, and the remaining 2 whole eggs and whisk to blend well
  7. Using a spatula, gently and gradually mix the egg yolk mixture into the melted chocolate mixture
  8. With the mixer on high, beat the egg whites until light and foamy
  9. Gradually add the sugar (excl the 2 tablespoons), a tablespoon or two at a time, and continue to beat until egg whites have tripled in volume and hold stiff peaks
  10. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined and no white streaks remain, making sure not to overmix
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top
  12. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top looks puffed and lightly cracked, like a soufflé (it should still have a little jiggle), about 35 to 40 minutes.
  13. Place on a wire rack and let the cake cool down
  14. The center of the cake will collapse, causing further cracking around the edges
  15. Whip the sour cream and nutella together and spoon on top of the cake
  16. You can bake this cake up to 2 days ahead, wrap it tightly, and store at room temperature. The flavour will improve as it stands. Add the topping only when ready to serve.
  17. Adapted from Alison Roman
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The world is going through the most uncertain time. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy. Look after yourself and each other. May we come out the other side much stronger.

The Heinstirred Greeting Cards Range has been launched. Inspired by fusing food and nature, distinctive images were photographed and set in original heart-shaped designs. Click here for all the details of the range now available.

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