Studded with dark chocolate chunks, these delicious tahini cookies are sweet, soft and definitely moreish! Find the recipe in Feasting, by Amanda Ruben.
I must admit that I’d never heard of Amanda Ruben before her gorgeous recipe book, Feasting, appeared, unexpectedly, on my doorstep. But since she lives over 10,000 miles away from me, in Melbourne (Australia) it’s not terribly surprising that our paths hadn’t crossed before.
Still, they say that Jews have only two degrees of separation, and sure enough we have social media friends in common! Amanda’s instagram is filled with delectable looking dishes from the kitchen of her cafe and deli in Riponlea, Melbourne, where they’re currently enjoying their summer menu – salads, fresh vegetables, and all manner of goodies that won’t make an appearance here in the UK for a few months yet.
Still, in the meantime I can shut out the cold and rain for a while by poring over the pages of Amanda’s book. Feasting is filled with wonderful dishes, all meant for sharing with family and friends – most of the recipes serve at least 6 people, often 8-10. Recipes are divided into starters, salads, mains, sides and desserts, and the book also includes some menu suggestions, such as Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, Friday Night Dinner and other Jewish and secular opportunities for large-scale meals with friends and relations.
I was most drawn to the salads chapter, which is full of fresh produce, delicious-sounding dressings, and vibrant flavour combinations, such as artichoke and green bean salad with citrus thyme dressing; savoy cabbage, kohlrabi and brussels sprout slaw; mixed leaves with spiced nuts and spiralised beetroot; and roasted beetroot carpaccio with goat’s curd and blood orange dressing. The photography – including the obligatory pictures of salads piled high in Amanda’s deli – is absolutely mouthwatering.
The salads also offer relatively simple, ‘do-able’ recipes, especially compared to some of the mains which look far more complex! Several of the more elaborate main dishes require overnight steps, which is fine as long as you are organised (I’m usually not!) and many have multiple components which are then arranged into the finished dish.
Veggies, fishes (and meat)
There are several vegetarian and fish main dishes, alongside a selection of meat and poultry, and to be honest some of the side dishes could easily become vegetarian or pescatarian mains in their own right. The potato and carrot latke with herby quark and salmon eggs, for instance, looks like a hearty and filling dish, as does the whole roasted cauliflower with tahini and tomato salsa.
Tahini may concern…
Tahini puts in several appearances in the book, and since I’m still in the throes of my sesame seed obsession, I decided to make the salted choc chip tahini cookies from the book’s desserts chapter. The recipe was easy to follow and very little effort using the stand mixer. However the dough was very soft and quite difficult to roll into balls before chilling – I did wonder whether it would have been better to refrigerate the dough first and roll it into cookies later. Maybe next time I’ll experiment…
I spaced the tahini cookies 3cm apart as instructed but they did spread into one another as they baked (see the slightly wonky shapes in the photo below). Make sure to leave very large spaces between if you don’t want this to happen. I also made my tahini cookies slightly smaller than the recipe instructs – about 45g dough per cookie instead of 75g. They were still quite big and this way I can eat them two at a time!
The tahini cookies are the perfect balance of sweet & salt, and have wonderfully crisp edges and a delicious chewy centre. The unmistakable flavour of sesame complements the dark chocolate and the coating of seeds looks beautiful as well as adding extra crunch – although they weren’t universally popular…
My daughter Kipper taste-tested one of the tahini cookies as an after-school snack, and declared that they are, “everything you could want in a cookie… but don’t put seeds on them next time.”
Feasting by Amanda Ruben is published by Hardie Grant, RRP £25.
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Salted choc chip tahini cookies
- 115 g unsalted butter (4 oz)
- 110 g tahini (4 oz)
- 230 g caster (superfine) sugar (8 oz/1 cup)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 150 g plain (all-purpose) flour (5½ oz/1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 305 g dairy-free dark chocolate couverture buds or small buttons (11 oz/1¾ cup)
- 115 g sesame seeds (4 oz/¾ cup)
- pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, tahini and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 5 minutes.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and combine with the tahini mixture. Add the chocolate buds and stir.
- Line two baking trays with baking paper. Shape the cookie dough into 70 g (2½ oz) balls and roll each ball in the sesame seeds before placing on the trays. Gently flatten them to about 1 cm (½ in) thick. Space them 3 cm (1¼ in) apart, because they do spread. Refrigerate for 1 hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
- Bake the cookies for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Be careful not to overcook them, because they are better when they’re a bit gooey on the inside.
- While the cookies are still warm, sprinkle them with pink salt and serve.