Black Sesame Banana Cake Trifle

This exquisite trifle uses ingredients like sesame seeds, sago, and sesame, commonly used in Chinese sweets.

Active Time:

1 hour 15 minutes

Total Time:

12 hrs


10 to 12

This stunning black-and-white layered dessert created by the chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco uses ingredients like sesame seeds and sago (a starch made from palm trees) that are typically utilized to make Chinese sweets. They’re paired with a rich and nutty Tahini, toasted coconut flakes, and a soft cake to create an elegant take on banana dessert. Sago balls that are chewy absorb the coconut milk’s fat and turn into a spoonable cream dessert, ideal for serving with whipped cream and a moist and sweet tahini banana cake. To make the cake vegan, replace the butter used in the cake with salted vegan butter at room temperature. Sago is a starch that can be eaten and created from the piths of various palm tree stems. Tapioca pearls originate by removing the tuber of the plant. Both of them have a pleasantly chewy texture. Find sago at Trifle serving bowls can be found in most kitchen stores or online at



  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup black sesame powder (about 2 3/4 ounces) (such as Lam Sheng Kee Foods)
  • One teaspoon of kosher salt
  • One teaspoon of baking soda
  • One teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup salted butter (6 1/2 ounces), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons well-stirred jarred black sesame tahini (such as Kevala)
  • Two large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (from 3 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken and stirred coconut milk (from 1 [13.5-ounce] can)

Coconut Sago

  • 12 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sago or small pearl tapioca (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 1/2 cups well-shaken and stirred coconut milk (from 2 [13.5-ounce] cans)
  • 1/4 cup plus one tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Tahini Cream

  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons well-stirred tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Additional Ingredients

  • One medium (6-ounce) banana, sliced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup toasted unsweetened flaked coconut




  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9-inch metal baking dish with butter. Line the pan with lined parchment papers, allowing a 1-inch overhang on the long sides. Set aside.
  2. Mix the flour, sesame paste, baking soda, salt, and baking powder, in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter using an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment at medium speed until creamy and light, approximately 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer’s speed to low. Slowly add sugar and tahini. Beat until the mixture is well-combined, about 1 minute. Add eggs one at one time, thoroughly beating following each addition. Add bananas and mix until well combined for about one minute. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as required.
  4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Gradually add flour to the banana mixture until it is just mixed, around 30 seconds. Add coconut milk and blend until smooth, approximately 1 minute. Spread the mixture into the baking pan.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until a wooden skewer placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. Between 25 and 30 minutes. Cool cake in a pan for 20 minutes. With parchment paper hanging overhangs to serve as handles for the cake, carefully transfer it to the wire rack. Allow cake to cool until the temperature of room, approximately 50 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut the cake into 1-inch cubes. Return the cubes to the baking pan and wrap them in plastic wrap until you are ready to be assembled.

Create the coconut sago.

  1. Bring 12 cups of water to boiling in a large pan with a high. Gradually add sago while stirring continuously. Simmer sago gently over high, stirring often until the pearls become translucent around the edges and have an icy white speck in the middle, around 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand until the pearls have a translucent center, around 10 minutes. Drain sago using a fine wire mesh strainer; Rinse under cold water. Stir with your fingers until it is cool, about 30 minutes.
  2. While the sago cooks, the coconut milk is inside a smaller saucepan on medium; stir it frequently until it is steaming, approximately 6 minutes. Add salt and sugar while stirring continuously until sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Take the pan off the stove, and put the mixture into a large heatproof bowl. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir cooked sago into the coconut mixture. Cover and chill until it becomes thicker and the texture has a pudding-like consistency for at least eight or 12 hours while stirring throughout the chilling process.

Make the tahini cream.

  1. Mix sugar and 1/2 cup cream, salt, and tahini in the bowl of a small spoon until well-mixed and smooth. Place aside. Beat the remaining 2 1/2 cups of cream using an electric mixer at medium speed until the cream thickens and forms trails of ribbon-like strands, around 2 minutes. Add the tahini mix at a low rate until soft peaks appear between 1 and 2 minutes.
  2. Pour one-third of coconut Sago (about 1 cup heaping) on an evenly-spaced layer inside a trifle dish that is 3 quarts in size. Spread one-third of the tahini (about 1 1/3 cups) equally on coconut sago. Place half of the cake cubes on tahini in a trifle dish. Repeat layers using one-third of the coconut sago, one-third of the tahini cream, and the other cake cubes. Then top with the coconut sago and the remaining tahini cream. Cool and covered to allow the trifle to be set for at least one hour or as long as 12 hours. The trifle is topped evenly with the banana slices with flaked coconut.


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