Tahini Is The Unlikely Ingredient You'll Want To Swirl Into Brownies

Brownies are always in season, but when the temperature drops and the hot cocoa comes out, these treats are a natural go-to. There are the typical seasonal accompaniments, like crushed peppermint sticks or red and green M&Ms, and then there are the likely year-round ones, like peanut butter, toasted marshmallows, and chopped nuts. But, even though these fudgy, chocolatey desserts are traditionally cut into squares, you're allowed to think outside of the box. That starts with swirling in some of the more unlikely ingredients — in which case tahini will be your brownies' new best friend.

Tahini is a condiment that originates in the Middle East, and you've probably seen it drizzled over fresh falafel, blended into hummus, or used to make creamy vegan soup. At its heart, however, it's a seed butter. Made from pure, raw, blended sesame seeds, tahini is a natural alternative for those with nut allergies, and — although much thicker in texture — you'll often find jars labeled as "sesame butter" in the PB&J aisle. Flavor-wise, however, tahini has a nutty, slightly bitter flavor and a texture that drips and drizzles with ease, making it ideal for swirling into your chocolate brownies.

The good news is that giving your brownies a tahini swirl couldn't be easier. As long as you shake your tahini jar before you buy it to ensure the texture is intact, you should be able to dollop it right into your brownies, grab a toothpick, and prepare for some seriously flawless brownie swirls.

Baking with tahini

With its smooth, drippable texture and light color, tahini is ideal for achieving a marbling effect in your brownies — and it tastes good too. Much like peanut butter, the slightly bitter and nutty flavor of tahini cuts through the richness of the chocolate while adding an element of depth and contrast. If you like it, you can even enhance the taste of the tahini by adding a touch of sesame oil to the mix, just ensure that it is the untoasted kind as the toasted version could be a touch too overpowering for your brownies. On the other hand, tahini will also enhance the texture of your brownies, as its protein and fat content delivers extra moisture without the need for added oil.

Brownies aren't the only baked goods that could benefit from a bit of tahini. This tasty sesame paste can be mixed into everything from babkas to breads, and doughnuts to cookies, where its nutty and warm flavor profile adds an element of sophistication as well as beneficial nutrients. Along with tahini's protein and fat content, it also delivers antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to your favorite sweet treats — but it's also a shortcut ingredient should you, or whoever you're baking for, not consume dairy or eggs. Tahini can be used as a substitute for butter in various ratios depending on what you're baking, or mixed with water as a replacement for eggs.