Warning! These gooey tahini brownies are extremely likely to create an immediate state of buttery, tahini-swirled, googly-eyed, fudge-covered bliss.
Hello, chocolate lover. These fudgy tahini swirl brownies are your new favorite thing.
Just like my favorite chocolate brownie loaf cake, these tahini swirled brownies contain copious amounts of chocolate and, as a friend recently commented, are so fudgy you could eat them with a spoon.
And if that isn't enough, tahini brownies can be eaten straight from the freezer. This is honestly my favorite way to eat them - cut into small two-bite pieces and piled into a freezer bag so I can pull one out whenever the craving for chocolate arises.
Not incidentally, my favorite dark chocolate fudge brownies also remain deliciously soft and fudgy when frozen. If you're sensing a theme here, you are correct: Having small, intensely chocolate bites of fudge brownie in the freezer at all times is one of my favorite things.
If you relate, we should be friends. Also, this tahini-swirled fudge brownie recipe is going to be right up your alley.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare this Recipe
- Butter. I used salted, but unsalted works perfectly well in this recipe if you want more control over the amount of salt in the batter. Browning the butter before using it in the batter adds a toasted nuttiness that accentuates the roasted sesame flavor of tahini.
- Bittersweet chocolate. I feel that it's important to use bittersweet chocolate that's at least 70% cacao, in these brownies. Semi-sweet and milk chocolate contain more sugar than bittersweet and, in my opinion, push the brownies into the land of cloying.
- Cocoa powder. It's not very intuitive, but the combination of cocoa powder and butter keeps brownies moist and fudgy for longer than using only melted chocolate. Cocoa powder also creates a more intense chocolate flavor then melted chocolate. But, melted chocolate adds moisture and gooeyness, which is why I like using both to make tahini brownies.
- Eggs. Eggs do for brownies what they do for many baking recipes - act as an emulsifier. Eggs help the other ingredients play nice and combine into a smooth, creamy, cohesive batter.
- Brown sugar. For the most moist and fudgy brownies, brown sugar is where it's at. The molasses in brown sugar adds additional moisture to brownies and helps create a super fudgy texture. I also think that brown sugar gives these brownies a greater depth of flavor than granulated (white) sugar.
- Pure vanilla extract. Vanilla is the perfect compliment to chocolate, enhancing its flavor and balancing its bitterness.
- Salt. Salt is very important to the overall balance of flavors in brownies! Salt has a magical ability to enhance sweet flavors and rounds out the corners of bitter flavors, making it a natural compliment to chocolate.
- Tahini. Tahini is simply toasted sesame seeds that have been ground up and emulsified with oil to create a creamy seed butter. These days, tahini can be found in most supermarkets, but if you can't find it in yours, it can be ordered online. My favorite brand is Baron's Organic Tahini Paste.
- All-purpose flour, preferably unbleached.
*See the recipe card for precise quantities.
Step by Step Photos and Instructions
Before making the batter for these tahini brownies, it's important to prepare the pan in a way that will make these super fudgy brownies easy to remove. To do that, line the inside of a square baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper then smear the foil or parchment paper with a generous amount of butter.
Depending on the size of the foil or parchment that you are using, you might need to lay two sheets perpendicular to each other in the pan so that one sheet comes up and over two sides and the other sheet comes up and over the other two sides.
The important thing is that you use sheets of foil or parchment that are long enough to hang over the sides of the pan. This will make it easy to grip the sides of the foil or parchment and lift the entire cake of brownies from the pan.
Step #1: Brown the butter.
Add the butter to a light-colored saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and begins to boil.
The butter will foam up as it cooks, then the foam will recede. Right before the butter begins to brown, it will foam up again. It's important to pay attention to the color of the butter underneath the foam.
When it's done, the butter beneath the foam will be golden brown with dark brown specks on the bottom of the pan. It will also smell nutty.
Step #2: Melt the chocolate.
Remove the saucepan with the brown butter from the heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder.
Use a wire whisk to stir the mixture until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Step #3: Beat the eggs and brown sugar.
Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a medium size bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until everything is blended and smooth.
You can also do this by hand with a wire whisk if you prefer.
Step #4: Add the tahini.
Scoop the tahini into the bowl and beat until it's completely incorporated.
As you beat the tahini into the egg and sugar mixture, the batter will thicken slightly.
When you see the batter thicken, that's a good indication that the tahini has been fully incorporated.
Step #5: Add the flour.
Add the flour to the brownie batter and stir gently just until the flour is barely incorporated.
Stirring the flour into the batter gently helps ensure that the baked brownies are soft and tender.
Step #6: Create the chocolate and tahini swirl.
Remove about ½ cup of the batter from the bowl and place it in a separate bowl.
Add the chocolate to the remaining batter and stir until combined.
Pour the chocolate batter into the prepared baking dish.
Dot the surface of the chocolate batter with the reserved tahini brownie batter.
Use a knife to swirl the batter in the pan. Swirl just enough to create a distinct swirled pattern.
Step #7: Bake!
Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, just until the edges are set but the center of the cake remains a bit jiggly if you tap the pan.
Turn the oven off and let the brownies rest in the oven with the door closed for another 10 minutes.
The key to super fudgy brownies is to under-bake them slightly. It can be tricky to know when tahini brownies are the perfect level of under-baked. Here's what to look for:
- The edges of the brownies will be visibly set and just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- The center of the brownies will move and wobble if you give the pan a gentle shake. BUT - the wobble should not look liquidy. Look for a wobble that resembles jello. If you shake the pan and the center moves like liquid, it's not time to turn the oven off.
How to Make Brown Butter
Making brown butter is a simple process of cooking butter until it melts, boils, and then turns a rich golden color. As the butter browns, it acquires a rich nutty flavor that accentuates and intensifies the tahini flavor in these brownies.
Making brown butter is mostly a straightforward process that only takes a few minutes, but there are a few important things to pay attention to:
- When browning butter, it's important to use a light-colored saucepan. Dark-colored saucepans make it difficult to see when the butter is brown.
- It's important to stir the butter constantly while it cooks to help it brown evenly and prevent any of the butter from burning.
- As the butter cooks, it will foam up, and then the foam will recede. Right before the butter begins to brown, it will foam up again, but the foam won't be as thick as before.
- The foam will make it difficult to see when the butter is beginning to brown, so as you stir, pay attention to the color of the butter underneath the foam.
- Remove the pan from the heat when the butter is golden brown with dark brown specks on the bottom of the pan. It will smell nutty and look a bit like a dark, foamy beer.
Additions and Variations
- Add a handful (about ½ cup) of dried fruit. Dried cherries or cranberries are an obvious choice here, but also consider chopped apricots or figs!
- Add some nuts. For the best flavor, chop and toast the nuts in a dry skillet until lightly roasted. Add as many nuts as you like to the brownie batter, but ½ - ¾ cup feels like the right amount to me.
- Add a bit of crunch with sesame seeds. Add a handful of sesame seeds to a dry skillet and toast them over medium heat until golden. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the top of the brownie batter right after you turn off the oven but before you remove them from the oven.
- Love salted chocolate? Right after you remove the brownies from the oven, sprinkle the top with a bit of flaky sea salt.
How to Store and Freeze these Brownies
Tahini brownies will keep well at room temperature for up to 5 days, or you can pop them in the refrigerator and they'll stay fudgy and delicious for up to a week. Store them in an airtight container.
If stacking layers of cut brownies in a container, separate the layers with a piece of parchment paper to keep them from sticking together.
You can also freeze tahini brownies for up to 3 months. One of the best things about these brownies is that they don't get hard when frozen and can be eaten directly from the freezer. This is actually my favorite way to eat them!
When cold or frozen, tahini brownies take on an extra fudgy consistency that I find particularly delicious. I like to cut them into small 2-bite pieces and freeze them in a zip-top bag so that we can pull one out whenever the craving for something rich and chocolaty arises.
Q: What can I use instead of tahini in these brownies?
A: You can substitute any kind of nut butter for the tahini in this recipe. Your best bet is to choose natural nut butter. The consistency of natural nut butter that's free from added stabilizers is similar to the consistency of tahini.
A: If you find yourself in a situation where you're getting ready to make tahini brownies and realize you're out of brown sugar, you can either substitute white granulated sugar, or just make some brown sugar.
To make brown sugar, add a tablespoon of unsulphured molasses to a cup of white granulated sugar. Stir the sugar and the molasses until the sugar is completely coated. I usually do this in a sealed zip-top bag, using my fingers to rub the molasses into the sugar from the outside of the bag.
A: Yes! Use any brand of gluten-free flour mix in place of all-purpose flour in this tahini brownie recipe to make them gluten-free. My favorite is Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free One-to-One Baking Flour.
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) salted butter + more for the pan
- 4 ounces (⅔ cup/ 113 grams) chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao)
- 3 tablespoons (16 grams) cocoa powder
- 3 large (150 grams) eggs
- 1 cup (213 grams) packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
- ¾ cup (190 grams) tahini
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (47 grams) all-purpose flour
- Heat oven to 350° F (176° C). Line the inside of a 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Allowing several inches of foil or parchment to come up and over the sides of the pan will make it easy to remove the brownies from the pan. Coat the inside of the foil or parchment with butter.
- Brown the butter: Add 5 tablespoons of butter to a small light-colored saucepan and set it over medium-low heat. (Dark pans make it difficult to tell when the butter is browned.) Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and begins to boil. As the butter cooks, it will foam up, then the foam will recede. Right before the butter begins to brown, it will foam up slightly again. As you stir, pay attention to the color of the butter underneath the foam. When it's done, the butter beneath the foam will be golden brown with dark brown specks on the bottom of the pan and will smell nutty.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, and whisk until smooth.
- Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a separate bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute, until well blended. Beat in the tahini.
- Add the flour to the batter and stir with a spatula or a wooden spoon just until incorporated.
- Remove ½ cup of the batter and set aside.
- Add the melted chocolate and brown butter mixture to the brownie batter and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon just until blended.
- Pour the chocolate brownie batter into the prepared pan. Top the chocolate brownie batter with dollops of the reserved tahini brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the batter in the pan to create a swirled pattern from the chocolate and tahini batters (see photos above).
- Bake the brownies in the center of the oven just until the edges of the brownies are set and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan but the center of the cake looks underdone and moves slightly if you jiggle the pan; about 30 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and let the brownies remain in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely before removing them from the pan.
- Use the extra foil or parchment to lift the entire cake of brownies from the pan and set on a cutting board. Cut into 24 pieces.
- Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. The brownies can also be frozen for up to 3 months. They remain soft when frozen, so can be eaten straight from the freezer.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 100mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g