Why is No One Talking About Tahini?

I love myself a night in, baking cookies and eating them warm right as they come out of the oven with a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate. This means I like to have regularly scheduled nights like these, and instead of going for the easy, store-bought Pillsbury cookie dough (these are still fantastic!), I recently suggested that my friends and I bake from scratch — something I adore, but unfortunately cannot find enough time for. A jar of something special had caught my eye during my trip to Trader Joe’s that week, and I knew I could use it to satisfy my sweet tooth. We could’ve gone for the easy sugar cookie or classic chocolate chip, but I had something else in mind: salted tahini chocolate chip cookies (recipe included below!).

To my surprise, none of my friends knew what tahini was, and that got me thinking. Why is no one talking about tahini? 

Even if it may not sound familiar, you’ve probably had tahini before. Tahini is a paste made from toasted, ground sesame seeds, often used in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes like hummus. Aside from hummus, however, it can be used in a plethora of ways: in salad dressings, dips, pasta sauces, and even baked goods and desserts. Think of it as having a richer, more savory flavour profile than your standard nut butters. It’s creamy and buttery, sweet yet savory, nutty and earthy — what’s not to like? 

Beyond its unique taste and versatility, however, tahini offers so many health benefits:

  1. Supports heart health — Sesame seeds (the main ingredient of tahini) are known for their role in promoting a healthy heart by reducing risk factors such as high blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
  2. Anti-inflammatory — Tahini is packed with antioxidants, which can help fight inflammation (which is oftentimes the root cause of many chronic diseases).
  3. Source of healthy fats — Yes, there are other ways to obtain your healthy fats other than from the popularized avocado! Tahini is packed with unsaturated (good) fats that promote brain function and also keep you full for long.
  4. Non-dairy source of calcium — Don’t drink milk? Not a problem; sesame seeds are a source high in calcium, which is an essential mineral for the body in supporting bone strength and structure.
  5. Glowing skin — Glow, baby, glow! Consuming tahini will help prevent visible signs of aging by plumping up your skin with its high zinc and iron content, both of which are necessary for hair, skin, and nail strength.

Tahini is essentially an upgraded version of your favorite Skippy peanut butter. It can still be eaten straight from the jar, but it’s also great mixed with chickpeas for a classic hummus dip, blended with olive oil and spices for a salad dressing, or poured into batter for a dessert.

Perhaps the next time you make a trip to the grocery store (I get mine from Trader Joe’s) you can pick up a jar and see how many different uses you can find for this transformative paste — one of which can be the recipe below (adapted from the Food Network) for one of my personal favorites: salted tahini chocolate chip cookies (they were a hit by the way!).

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup tahini 
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chunks (can be substituted for any chocolate)
  • Chunky sea salt 

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and fine salt.
  • In a new bowl, thoroughly mix the butter and brown sugar. Add tahini, egg, and vanilla and beat until incorporated. 
  • Slowly add in the dry ingredients beating until combined. Add the chocolate, and use a spatula to fold it in.
  • Scoop out dough into balls, leaving some space between each cookie. Sprinkle the chunk sea salt over each cookie.
  • Bake for around 12 to 15 minutes, or until brown around the edges. 
  • Cool the cookies for around 10 minutes and then serve!