Given my love for food, it is no surprise that I spend a lot of time reading cookbooks and recipes. I always joke that the first thing that I do when I open a newspaper is to check the recipes page – after checking the football scores of course! If I find a page that I like that offers a subscription I generally sign up, adding to the steady barrage of mail in my in box. Generally I cast my eye over them, open a recipe or two and move on. Once in a while, a gem comes up however and the NY Times recipe for Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip cookies screamed to me that they needed to be added to the repertoire.
A couple of years back, I spent the weekend with friends in Silver Spring. They ran out of raw techina and used peanut butter instead – adding lemon, garlic and water and mixing to the consistency of a techina sauce. The taste was close enough that had I not known what had gone into it, I would have assumed it was regular techina. It was an eye opener to me as I’d never really considered, obvious as it may seem with hindsight, that what is essentially sesame butter has a very similar profile to peanut butter.
Although I had encountered sesame as halva beforehand I hadn’t generally thought of the raw paste as being something that generally went into sweet dishes. Increasingly over the years I’ve encountered techina combining with silan (date honey) to delicious effect – give it a try – it’s kind of a middle eastern PB+J. The Zahav cookbook really showcases this versatility from the savoury all the way through to mousse, cookies and semifreddo.
So this recipe found me in a very receptive place – it has techina, it has chocolate, it has salt and it has butter – combining such favourite ingredients into one delectable dish and surely the outcome will be astonishing?
My kids know that I don’t generally bake so the first time I offered them these cookies they were a mite suspicious but my wife was overseas and as such there were meager pickings when it came to baked goods. My oldest daughter’s response was that I had to give my wife the recipe so that she could make them and they’ve proven a hit every time since – the only downside, as my wife points out is that it’s essentially taking a chocolate chip cookie and adding 100 calories but it’s certainly a crowd pleaser and very easy too!
110 grams of butter
1/2 a cup raw techina – I’ve used all different types
1 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg + 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour (I have tried this with half wholewheat without anyone even noticing)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (hard to get here – I used a slightly smaller quantity of regular salt
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (I just tried a bag of Scharffen Berger 70% chunks which is a slightly lesser quantity and worked out just as well)
Flaky salt for topping
Mix butter, techina and sugar in a mixer on a slow speed for about 5 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla, keep beating – it should be light and fluffy.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and add to the mix until combined.
Switch off the mixture and fold in chocolate with a spatula
Cover and refrigerate overnight (longer doesn’t appear to have any ill effect)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
Make balls of dough using a tablespoon – set them out on a baking tray – they will spread.
Bake for 13 – 16 minutes – this depends on your oven and your taste – I prefer slightly longer as I like the contrast of crisp on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle.