Suzy Karadsheh, creator of The Mediterranean Dish, explains how she simply cannot live without tahini. “Being Egyptian, tahini is a staple ingredient that my mother used in so many ways. And now, I, too, use it in dishes that are both savory and sweet,” Karadsheh says.
Quality tahini is made from roasted and pressed sesame seeds, which will add a deliciously earthy and nutty flavor—and a thick, creamy texture—to recipes. It also contains a bounty of nutritional benefits: It's a great source of plant-based protein, antioxidants, vitamins such as B12 and E, and minerals like zinc. Because sesame seeds are composed of 55 percent oil and 20 percent protein, tahini also provides you with a heart-healthy source of fat (which is key for maintaining cognitive health as you age) and essential amino acids (which help build healthy skin, strong bones, and muscle mass). One study even found that sesame seeds have a high absorption rate for compounds like tocopherol, which is found in inflammation-fighting vitamin E. Subjects in the study who ingested sesame oil instead of walnut or soy oil had 19.1 percent higher levels of tocopherol on average than their counterparts.
According to Karadsheh, one of the easiest ways to use tahini is by whisking it with minced garlic and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and drizzling it over kebabs or fish. She also loves to stir a generous spoonful of tahini into her butternut squash soup, which gives it a luxurious mouthfeel and a deliciously toasty flavor that perfectly complements that sweetness of the squash.
Speaking of sweetness, Karadsheh strongly recommends incorporating tahini into baked goods. “It adds a nutty richness and silky texture,” she says. "And for those who cannot use peanut butter because of allergies or other reasons, tahini is the ideal swap when baking." It can also serve as a nutrient-rich butter substitute, which a game-changer for those who follow a vegan or plant-based diet.
Needless to say, tahini is the star of Karadsheh's favorite easy cookie recipe. "It makes them soft, chewy, and full of flavor and nutritional benefits,” Karadsheh says. “Even if you’re not an avid baker, these tahini cookies are so simple to make and are perfect to enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea. Once you try them, you'll know that tahini has the ability to take a dessert from average to a special treat bursting with complexity and spunk."
Ready to get started baking with tahini? Find the full recipe for Karadsheh’s tahini cookies below, and make sure to use these helpful tips she shared as you bake.
Tips to bake tahini cookies perfectly
1. Using quality tahini is key.
“Always bake with high-quality tahini, otherwise your cookies will taste bitter and a bit funky,” Karadsheh says. When it comes to shopping for tahini, Karadsheh recommends sourcing it from a place that re-stocks it frequently, rather than a place where it might have sat on the shelf too long. “If you’re looking for a top-notch brand, Soom is an excellent option.” Soom is female-founded, and has a wide range of premium, super fresh organic tahini spreads, including fun flavors like vanilla bean and chocolate that are great for making nutrient-rich desserts.
2. Chill the cookie dough.
Let your cookie dough chill for at least an hour before you bake. “Chilling the dough is an essential step, and you can do it for as little as one hour or as long as overnight. You can also make the dough ahead of time and store in the freezer for up to two months,” Karadsheh says.
3. Let them cool before storing them.
Be sure the tahini cookies are fully cooled before transferring them to an airtight container or canister. “Be sure to cover them up tightly,” Karadsheh adds. They will keep for up to one week at room temperature. “Or, if you’d like to enjoy them months from now, you can store these in the freezer for up to six months—just be sure that the cookies are well-protected.”
Suzy Karadsheh's 5-Ingredient Tahini Cookies Recipe
1 3/4 sticks (7-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup tahini paste
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt, optional
Powdered sugar, optional
1. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, combine until light and fluffy. Now add the tahini and continue mixing on medium speed until well-incorporated.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients to the tahini mixture, and mix until well-incorporated into a dough.
3. Take the tahini cookie dough out of the bowl and make it into a log (about 2-inches in diameter). Place the log on the short end of a large piece of plastic wrap. Roll the wrap twisting the ends in opposite direction so that the dough log is tightly wrapped. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 1/3 to 1/2 inch rounds, and arrange on a very large baking sheet (or two baking sheets) lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake for 15 minutes or so until the cookies are light brown around the edges and set.
6. Remove from the heat and leave the cookies in the baking sheets to cool briefly, about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar, if you like.
Ready to keep baking with tahini? Try making Karadsheh's delicious tahini brownies next.
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