Tahini Cookies


It is officially cookie season.

As the brittle leaves gently flutter to the ground in vibrant reds and yellows and oranges, and a slight chill whispers down every street and under every door (well, maybe not here in sunny California, but one can pretend), there is one thing on everyone’s mind — the holidays.

The holiday season holds a very special place in each of our hearts for one reason or another. For some it is the family reunions, the warm and fuzzy sweaters, the sparkling menorahs/Christmas trees/kinaras, and the Starbucks holiday drinks that are so attractive (hello, pumpkin spice latte). For others, the endless list of excuses to embrace the consumer within and the overall holiday cheer that take the cake. No matter what we love most about this time of year, just about everyone can emphatically argue that the holidays are a great time to be a human being on Planet Earth.

To me, the holiday season means many things. Near the top of that list lies one of the greatest manifestations of human innovation in all of history — the cookie. Gingersnap, snickerdoodle, chocolate chip… what more could one ask for than a classic, time-honored American cookie?

I’ll tell you. How about a classic, time-honored, non-American cookie? For decades, Americans have been laying out the same kinds of cookies for Santa. He simply must be tired of them. I say that it is time that we branch out to the far corners of cookiedom in search of cookies that we have not tried before. After all, one can only eat that dry sugar cookie so many times before they loses their appeal. So how about baking  something new?

Let us begin our cookie exploration with a famous treat from the Middle East — the tahini cookie. These delectable, melt-in-your mouth cookies are nutty, buttery, and addictively sesame-y. As for categorization, they are probably best described as something between peanut butter cookies and pecan sandies. So come on and give this recipe a shot! I promise that these simple-yet-delicious cookies will soon be a mainstay of your famous holiday party cookie platter.

 Tahini Cookies

November 20, 2014


  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 stick softened butter
  • 1 1/4  cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup well-stirred tahini
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (or almonds, chocolate chips, pine nuts, etc.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt



Turn the oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and powdered sugar.20141118_170404-001

Using a whisk attachment (or a fork), cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light, fluffy, and smooth.20141118_170458Drizzle in the tahini, and fold it in with the butter and sugar until the mixture is completely homogenous.


In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Proceed to mix the dry ingredients in with the wet.20141118_171403

The resulting dough should be neither wet nor dry; however, it should be some what harder and more play-dough-like than your average cookie dough.20141118_171602Pinch off a large-olive-sized piece of dough. Roll the dough between your hands until it forms a smooth ball, then gently squeeze the ball on two sides, flattening it until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with the rest of the cookie dough.


Lay the cookies two inches apart in a staggered pattern on a greased baking tray. Lightly press one shelled pistachio piece into the middle of each cookie.

Slide the tray into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cookies reach your desired level of brownness. Bake for around 10 minutes for golden brown, soft, chewy cookies. Bake for 15 or more minutes for richer, crispier cookies with caramel and brown-butter undertones. Or, chose a baking time somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes for the best of both worlds!

20141119_070011When the cookies have reached your desired level of doneness, let them cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then remove them and allow them to cool more thoroughly on a rack.

20141119_070446Once the cookies have cooled (or before that if you are impatient), it is time get your munch on! These tahini cookies are a phenomenal mid-morning snack — especially alongside some strong Turkish coffee (accentuated with a dash of cardamom, if you want to take the experience to a whole new level)! I am sure that these delightful treats will soon hold a cherished spot in your holiday cookie repertoire. Please let me know what you think!


And don’t forget — if you like this recipe, please donate to The After School Special’s fall season fundraiser for UNICEF’s Children of Syria charity! There is only one more month left to reach this season’s donation goal! Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children in need.

Syria Donate Button


{click the UNICEF button to donate to The After School Special’s fundraiser for children in Syria}

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