Tahini, oat + coconut cookies { gluten-free + vegan }

My kitchen has turned into tahini central. After months (months!) of forgetting again and again to pick up tahini at the grocery store — where was my head? — I finally bought a fresh jar last weekend, and sesame paste immediately began sneaking its way into just about everything I make. After all, what’s a Buddha bowl without tahini sauce? A rather sad, naked pile of vegetables and grains, that’s what. Well, 7 days, 4 batches of tahini dressing, and 3 batches of tahini cookies later, I was headed back to the store to replenish my ta-dreamy reserves. Hooked, to say the least.

These cookies were born from a desire to create a nutrient-dense and not-too-sweet breakfast / snacking / anytime cookie, with ample amounts of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates for lasting energy. I also wanted it to be vegan and gluten-free. The cookie’s basic structure comprises just 4 ingredients: tahini, maple syrup, oats, and shredded coconut (and a pinch of salt). Then come the flavorful add-ins: dried cherries, sliced almonds, vanilla, cinnamon. With a perfect balance of mellow, nutty sweetness, a hint of salt, sweet-tart cherries and toasty almonds, crisp edges and chewy centers, I am not kidding when I say these little guys are the ideal anytime sweet: have a few bites with your morning coffee, as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack, or a light dessert. Don’t leave home without them. Tasty, light, and energizing, no sugar rush or subsequent crash.

An added pro — the cookies don’t contain eggs, so you can snack on the raw dough all you want (and it’s a delicious dough, let me tell you). Or, take it a bit further: roll the dough into balls, and then roll the balls in shredded coconut, sesame seeds, or cocoa powder — you just made raw truffles.

Another technique that your future self will thank you for: freeze your dough-balls (in a single layer so they don’t stick together) and then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container until ready to bake. Cookie dough balls in the freezer = always a good idea!

As far as add-ins go, dried cherries and almonds are a natural. Here are some other combinations I’m planning to explore, if you like options as much as I do: cranberries + chopped pecans, chopped figs + walnuts, raisins + pumpkin seeds. A natural peanut butter or almond butter would also be a good stand-in for the tahini — not anytime soon for me, though, I’m pretty committed to my tahini jar for the time being.

Tahini, oat + coconut cookies with dried cherries + almonds 
Yield: Approx. 20 cookies

This recipe was tested using Sesame King lightly roasted tahini. Since tahini textures are relatively consistent across brands (more so than peanut butter or almond butter, for example) I don’t anticipate issues using a different brand, or using raw tahini instead of roasted. If you try the recipe using a different type of tahini (or another nut butter) please let me know how it works out for you.

1/2 cup unsalted, lightly roasted tahini (see note above)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (coconut nectar or agave nectar can be substituted, if you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt, such as Celtic
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Combine tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add oats, coconut, cherries, and almonds, and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated into a dough.

Scoop dough into balls using a 1-tablespoon (1/2-ounce) cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, arranging the balls about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350F until tops and bottoms of cookies are a light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through.

Allow cookies to rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

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