Black tahini swirl blondies

Although my love affair with tahini has been going on for a few months now, the elegant and mysterious black tahini only entered my life a few days ago. I was innocently perusing the aisles at whole foods (the usual story: went in to buy some fruit and the next thing you know…) when the jar practically jumped off the shelf and into my basket. Along with a jar of date molasses, which we’ll get to later.

The flavor of this black tahini is sort of like white tahini on steroids: the same nutty, rich, toasted sesame flavor, but taken a level deeper, darker and more intense. You can use it in all the same ways as the more common white variety — in sauces, dressings, dips, spreads, cookies, etc.

Tahini-swirled brownies have been on my need-to-make list for a while. Once in possession of the black variety, though, I flipped my sights to a swirled blondie, instead. Mixed with a bit of that aforementioned date molasses and swirled through a pan of rich, brown-sugary batter, black tahini’s nutty sharpness plays the perfect contrast to the sweet, mellow flavor of the blondie. Did I mention there’s a little flaky Maldon salt sprinkled on top of these bad boys? So we have that sweet-salty magic going on here, too.

I made the blondies with olive oil because, truth be told, I ran out of butter. And, as with most of my baked goods of late, I actually prefer the olive oil version, for its moist crumb, lighter flavor, and base notes of herbaceous olive-y goodness. Olive oil also matches nicely with the tahini and date molasses swirl, given that all of these ingredients are Mediterranean / Middle Eastern in origin.

And I should also mention, if you have a hard time locating black tahini, you can make it at home using black sesame seeds. Simply toast the seeds in a skillet for a few minutes (toasting helps reduce the bitterness of the tahini) and blend in a food processor or high-powered blender until a sesame butter forms.

Black tahini swirl blondies
Blondie base recipe adapted from My Name is Yeh
Makes about 12 blondies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup toasted black tahini, stirred well before measuring
2 tablespoons date molasses or date syrup (or honey)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (black, white or a mixture)
Maldon salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan with olive oil and line with parchment.

In a bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate large bowl whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until well incorporated. Stir dry ingredients into wet in two or three additions. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl stir together tahini and date molasses. Plop about a dozen small spoonfuls of the mixture onto the top of the batter. Use a chopstick or the handle of a spoon to swirl the tahini mixture through the batter (don’t over swirl, though – you want it to be irregular). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Maldon salt.

Bake until the center of the blondies is set, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling completely on a rack. Store blondies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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