Brownies finally come of age
Tahini Swirl Brownies

Tahini Swirl Brownies

40 minutes

16 brownies

Up until the late 19th century, chocolate was a rare ingredient, and chocolate desserts were mostly absent from American cookbooks. In fact, the first brownie recipe, published in 1896 in Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cookbook,” really was a molasses cake. Her 1906 version wasn’t much better, more cake than brownie and with only a faint chocolate flavor.

Today, of course, chocolate is everywhere and brownies are infinite in style, flavor and texture. But most remain one-note wonders, little more than sugar, fat and chocolate plus the occasional marshmallows, nuts or swirl of peanut butter. At Milk Street, we wanted a more grown-up pairing.

We loved the halvah brownie from Tatte Bakery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Halvah is fudge-like candy from the Middle East made from tahini, a rich paste made from ground sesame seeds. The mix of slightly bitter sesame and chocolate appealed to us immediately. But instead of trying to add tahini to a classic brownie batter, we reversed our thinking, adding chocolate to a tahini base. 

The duo of dark chocolate and cocoa powder gave these brownies depth, and the vanilla enhanced the flavor of both of them. The combination of tahini and sugar replicates the sweet sesame flavor of halvah candy but was easier to work with—and to find. Swirling the reserved tahini batter into the chocolate created a visual and textural contrast and let the tahini flavor shine. The best way to marble the brownies was to run the tip of a paring knife through the dollops of batter.

Ingredients

  • 4

    tablespoons salted butter (½ stick), plus more for pan

  • 4

    ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 16

    grams (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 223

    grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 180

    grams (¾ cup) tahini

  • 47

    grams (⅓ cup) all-purpose flour

Tahini Swirl Brownies

Get Ready to Cook

16

brownies

40 minutes

Tip

Don’t skip stirring the tahini before measuring; the solids often sink to the bottom.

Ingredients

  • 4

    tablespoons salted butter (½ stick), plus more for pan

  • 4

    ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 16

    grams (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 223

    grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1

    teaspoon kosher salt

  • 180

    grams (¾ cup) tahini

  • 47

    grams (⅓ cup) all-purpose flour

Step 1 of 4

Line the pan and coat with butter

salted butter

Heat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with 2 pieces of foil with excess hanging over the edges on all sides. Lightly coat with butter.

Step 2 of 4

Melt the butter and add the chocolate

4
tablespoons salted butter
4
ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
16
grams (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and cocoa, whisking until smooth.

Step 3 of 4

Whisk and combine the tahini

3
large eggs
223
grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar
1
teaspoon vanilla extract
1
teaspoon kosher salt
180
grams (¾ cup) tahini
47
grams (⅓ cup) all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the tahini. Fold in the flour until just incorporated. Set aside ½ cup of the mixture.


Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining tahini mixture and fold until fully combined.

Step 4 of 4

Swirl the tahini, bake, and serve

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Dollop the reserved tahini mixture over the top, then swirl the batters together with the tip of a paring knife.


Bake until the edges are set but the center remains moist, 28 to 32 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Use the foil to lift the brownies from the pan. 


Cool on the rack for at least another 30 minutes before removing from foil. The longer the brownies cool, the more easily they cut. Cut into 2-inch squares.

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