Tahini Swirl Brownies – fudgy, rich and deeply decadent. Don’t we all need them now? The temperatures have dropped into the single digits (we’re talking Fahrenheit!) It’s been snowing. And, yes, there is still a pandemic going on. I don’t know about you, but sometimes all you can do is eat chocolate – the extra dark, rich and not overly sweet kind. You know, the one that’s good for depression. Yes, that one.
I’ve been binge watching YouTube cooking shows and I came across one called Milk Street. The host is Christopher Kimball, who I had never heard of before, although he is the co-founder, editor and publisher of America’s Test Kitchen. Not the most dynamic of hosts, if I am being honest. However, I happened to turn on the episode where they were making these brownies. Having made Ottolenghi’s Tahini and Halva Brownie before, which my husband liked more than I did, I was curious what these were like. I was immediately attracted to the simplicity of the ingredients and the process in this recipe. So I decided to try the Milk Street version. And I am very glad that I did! Can you say scrumptious?
By now, no one is surprised to see tahini in dessert recipes. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t come across tahini ice cream in the US. It’s ubiquitous in Israel and I’m a fan. Tahini is kind of like peanut butter’s more sophisticated sister. Don’t get me wrong, like most Americans I grew up loving peanut butter. As a child it was Skippy’s or Jif. Now that I’m older, I prefer the kind without any sugar or other additives. But there is a lovely slight bitterness to tahini that cuts through the sweetness and pairs beautifully with chocolate. Tahini enhances the earthiness in the chocolate in much the same way that adding coffee does.
There is nothing terribly tricky about this recipe, but you must use quality ingredients. You want a good bittersweet chocolate, which is no less than 64% cocoa and probably no more than 70%. And a quality Dutch-processed cocoa. I happen to love Valrhona for baking, but there are many fine cocoas available. As important as the chocolate elements are, the tahini you use is equally essential. Some brands are very bitter and taste simply awful. Two brands that I like are Soom and Seed & Mill, both of which are easily available online. (And no, I do not get paid to promote products. I probably should, but I don’t.)
Once your ingredients are assembled, the rest is pretty straight-forward. I did follow the instructions about swirling the tahini on top, but I think next time I might choose to just marble the chocolate through the tahini mixture instead. You probably can’t go wrong either way. Frankly, the only difficult part of this recipe is waiting until the brownies have cooled sufficiently before cutting and eating them. They smell simply wonderful!
You don’t need an excuse to make these, but I think we all probably have several at the ready. It’s been an awful year and we’re still in for a long haul. So treat yourself and your friends and loved ones. Make these tonight. I promise that you’ll thank me.
For other delicious brownie recipes:
Fudgy Brownies with Beets and Walnuts
Java Brownies (Still my personal favorite)
Yield: About 15 Brownies (A little goes a long way)
When I first read that an 8-inch pan yielded 15 brownies, I thought they were crazy. But the fact is that 2-inch brownies are really the right size. These are quite rich. And if you decide to eat two – well, I won’t tell.
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, plus more for the pan (I don’t generally use salted butter and unsalted seemed to work just fine for me.)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or shaved (I used a 70% cocoa. I would not go lower than 64% or higher than 70%.)
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (223 g) granulated white sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (180 g) tahini
1/3 cup (47 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour
Sea salt flakes for garnish (Optional – I didn’t use them or feel the lack, but if you really like adding salt to everything, go for it.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the middle position of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 pieces of foil, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Lightly brush with additional butter.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, just melt the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and cocoa until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until slightly thickened – about a minute. Whisk in the tahini. Fold in the flour until just incorporated.
Transfer 1/2 cup of the tahini mixture to a small bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining tahini mixture and fold in until fully combined. Alternatively, do not set aside the tahini, and simply take the chocolate mixture and marble it through the tahini mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. If you decided to set aside the 1/2 cup of tahini, dollop it over the top into 6 puddles. Using the tip of a sharp knife, drag it through the tahini dollops, first in one direction and then the other. (I admit that I am no expert in this, but it still worked out pretty well.)
Bake just until the edges are set but the center is still slightly moist. Ovens vary, so start checking at 25 minutes. I baked mine for 28 minutes, but even a couple of minutes less would have been okay. Cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. The longer they cool, the easier they are to cut. Cut into about 2-inch squares. Enjoy.