Baking Dorie’s Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch

Despite having kept tahini in my fridge for years, I was surprised when I heard a guest on Milk Street Radio say that she puts it on everything from roasted vegetables to ice cream. I had only ever used tahini, a sauce made of ground sesame and oil, to make hummus. Soon after, I saw this recipe by Dorie, where she says it adds “a little more fat, another flavor and a slightly sandy texture.” I knew I had to see how it worked.

The first step in the recipe is making the “sesame crunch”, which is sesame seeds in hard caramel bits. Caramel and I historically haven’t gotten along very well, but since this batch goes for a lighter caramel, it was easy to avoid overdoing it. After making the caramel and letting it cool on a pan, Dorie says to chop it to pieces. I just imagined sharp, tiny bits of caramel flying around my kitchen, so I instead put it in a ziplock bag and crushed it with repeated blows from a rolling pin.

I was too panicked to take pictures while I was actually making the caramel for the sesame crunch.

From there, the recipe was relatively straightforward. Whisk together dry ingredients and then beat the sugar and fat together. As I was mixing it all together, I noticed the dough took on a nice swirl of colors between the paler tahini parts and the dark cocoa parts.

The recipe called for chopped chocolate bars but accepted chips as a substitute, so I grabbed my fancier bag of Guittard chips rather than the Kirkland brand. Looking ahead on recipes, I have since resolved to get nicer chocolate bars for baking. And the necessary sampling along the way, of course.

Dorie warned that these cookies were “spreaders” and to ensure that they had a full two inches between them. Despite my problems in the past with cookies spreading too much, I actually found that these cookies didn’t spread as much as expected.

I suspect that one major factor is that I again adjusted the beater height on my stand mixer. This time, I used the dime test to get that perfect 1/16 inch clearance from the bottom of the bowl. It took just a little less than a quarter turn, but I immediately noticed the difference. When I dropped the beater in, the silicone scraper on the side bent with the edge of the bowl. And when I actually beat the fat and sugar together, I could tell it was mixing and aerating better.

Dorie said that baking for 13 minutes would be enough, but that 15 minutes would be firmer, so I kept one batch in longer than the other. To be honest, I’m not sure if I could tell a difference.

On the first day, the cookies were delicious: while warm, they really did melt in our mouths. However, we didn’t notice the sesame flavor as much. Interestingly, by day two, the texture had completely changed to something far more solid. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it crumbly, but it wasn’t quite crumbly. And the sesame flavor came out much more strongly.

Now I have two uses for tahini. You can find something pretty close to the original recipe here.

Also, I felt like the idea of broccoli, sausage, and pasta made sense, so we found a recipe and went for it. I think it was missing a little something, so when we made the second batch a few days later, we added onions and a splash of wine, too

The sausage had been in our freezer for an entire year.

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