Tahini or not tahini? (No question.)

I am perpetually behind on reading my cooking magazines—usually, it takes me at least a couple months to even unwrap the plastic. They pile up on my coffee table until I tidy them up, when they move to the edge of a bookshelf, and then eventually, months after they’ve arrived, a fit of boredom spurs me to sort them, flag interesting recipes, and recycle the remainders.

But a few days ago, when I grabbed my most recent issue of Bon Appétit out of the mailbox on my way into the house, I saw three little words on the cover that made me stop just inside the door—coat, scarf, boots, and backpack still on—and rip into the magazine.

Tahini. Swirled. Brownies.


These brownies are gluten-free, using cornstarch to bind the batter together, and dairy-free, subbing coconut oil for the butter (throw in some flaxseed or other egg substitute and they’d be vegan, too). I’m not normally much for coconut in sweet things, but here it adds just a touch of extra nuttiness that totally works. There is tahini in the batter as well as swirled on top—in fact, I added a bit more than the original recipe called for—but it’s not overwhelming. More importantly, for me, it stays far away from tasting like peanut butter, an experience that can ruin a tahini dessert for me (I know, I know, PB is great … but I’m picky about it and when it comes to dessert, I really don’t want it anywhere except cookies). These brownies pair shattery tops and chewy edges with deeply fudgy interiors. A little definitely goes a long way—and yet I’ve made two batches in the last week.

Of course, this recipe seems to have been online since June, before being printed in the February 2018 magazine, so if I weren’t so behind on my reading, just think how many of these brownies I could have eaten over the last eight months.


Tahini-Swirled Brownies
Adapted slightly from a Bon Appétit recipe, which was in turn adapted from David Lebovitz’s gluten-free brownie recipe.

24 grams/0.9 ounces (3 tablespoons) cornstarch
10 grams/0.4 ounces (2 tablespoons) unsweetened cocoa powder
170 grams/6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
42 grams/1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) coconut oil
80 grams/2.8 ounces (5 tablespoons) tahini, divided
2 large eggs
65 grams/2.3 ounces (1/3 cup)
55 grams/2 ounces (1/4 cup packed) dark brown sugar (note: light brown is fine)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light agave nectar
(optional) flaky salt like Maldon or fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with overlapping pieces of parchment, leaving an overhang.

Whisk cornstarch and cocoa in a bowl until no lumps remain; set aside.

Heat chocolate, coconut oil, and 30 grams (1.1 ounces/2 tablespoons) tahini in a small saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth, 1–3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugars on medium-high heat until light and doubled in volume, about 4–5 minutes. Reduce speed and beat in salt and vanilla just to combine. Scrape in the slightly-cooled chocolate mixture and beat to combine. Turn off the mixer (unless you like a face-full of cocoa and cornstarch) to add the cocoa mixture; beat for a few seconds on low just to combine, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture has thickened, about one minute more. Scrape into prepared dish and smooth the top.

Mix the remaining tahini with the agave nectar in a small bowl—it will thicken up a lot. Dollop small spoonfuls over the batter in six or seven places; drag a toothpick through to swirl. If desired, sprinkle a pinch of flaky salt all over the top of the batter.

Bake until edges are puffed, top is browned, and a toothpick poked into the center comes out with just a few crumbs, 22–25 minutes. Let cool completely before removing them from the pan and cutting into small squares.

Store tightly wrapped at room temperature, up to five days.

Makes 16 brownies

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