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Not that there was anything wrong with chocolate chip cookies. (I legally have to make that disclaimer.)
But—just as you don’t wear your favorite robe to an important meeting or a fancy party—there are times that call for something a little more refined, instead of simply sweet and familiar.
This is a cookie you can set out at a party that will give everyone something to talk about. It’s one that you can bundle up and give with intention—hey, you can say, I thought you’d like this. No one ever said hey, I thought you’d like this about regular chocolate chip cookies. Because that would be like pretending you’re introducing someone to ABBA. (Obviously everyone already loves ABBA.)
Yet for all of this newness and excitement, you’re still following the exact same process—and nearly the same ingredients—as the steps you grew up reading off the back of the bag of chocolate chips: Cream butter with sugar, plop in eggs, stir in dry floury stuff sloooowly, then chocolate bits, then bake. You can mix these on full autopilot (and, therefore, you can mix them fast).
The one thing that’s different? Along with the softened butter and sugar, you’ll add a half cup of tahini. The nutty, goopy sesame seed paste—star of hummus and baba ganoush—is one of those ingredients that can lean into sweet as easily as savory, like nutmeg or mint or, of course, all sorts of seeds and nuts.
“I wanted a way to introduce tahini in desserts to the American palate,” Danielle Oron, creator of this recipe for her cookbook Modern Israeli Cooking, told me. “I figured that the best way to do that is to make a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, but to replace the peanut butter with tahini.”
More: See how Sarah Jampel went the other way with Peanut Butter (née Tahini) Brioche.
Because it tastes faintly like a chocolate chip cookie mashed up with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Oron considers this a gateway recipe. Tahini is essentially peanut butter’s slightly smokier, huskier-voiced cousin—you just have know how to use it.
Oron also swirls it into brownies, whips it into this haunting mousse pie, and advises, “Usually you can switch out tahini in any peanut butter baked good, only use a tablespoon or two less because tahini is more oily and liquid than peanut butter. Otherwise, no rules!”
Here, the tahini gives you not only the savory, nutty notes, but a crystalline, halvah-like crunch that ordinary chocolate chip cookies won’t have.
Show it off at parties, as a gift for every host and anyone on your list who stumps you, or, as Oron recommends, “Store them in the freezer, baking them off one at a time for midnight snacks.” For that one, you can wear your favorite robe.
- 8 tablespoons /1 stick (113 grams) room temperature unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) tahini, well stirred
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) Valrhona discs (64% cocoa) or other good quality chocolate chips or chunks
- Flaky salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel
Photos by Mark Weinberg