I was reading Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem not so long ago and the preamble to his recipe for tahini cookies. It appears a few years ago, tahini cookies were all the rage in Israel. I had never heard of them but was interested as Ottolenghi advised they taste like halva, which I absolutely adore. The association makes sense because halva is made with tahini and sugar, two key ingredients in these yummy biscuits.
I always remember my very first experience with halva. It was on our first overseas holiday – the one year Europe trip – our first stop was Athens. We must have read about halva as it was high on our must eat list. We found some in a market and bought a massive block of it – about a 6 inch square. Those who know halva would know how rich it is and how that much halva would normally last quite a while. Maus and I finished it before we got back to our hotel and returned for more! I have loved it ever since. We always have some tucked away in the cool room for when something sweet is called for.
As a consequence, I am interested in anything that, reportedly, tastes like halva. I decided to give the recipe a go.
We loved them. They are a bit like halva-flavoured short bread. I wasn’t even going to take a photo. I was so certain we would make them again, I knew there would be other opportunities but, as an after thought, I took this shot of the remaining few.
I was right. I did make them again – today, in fact. And it is not just me who loves them. I put two on a plate, one for me and one for Maus and Maus ate them both.
- 130g caster sugar
- 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 110g tahini
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 25mls double cream (I just used ordinary cream)
- 270g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Place the sugar and butter in an electric mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until just combined.
- Add the tahini, vanilla and cream and beat until combined.
- Add the flour and mix with a spoon until the dough comes together.
- Knead the dough with your hands until well combined and smooth.
- Take spoonsful of dough and roll into balls, about the size of a walnut.
- Place the balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper, about 3 cm apart.
- Use the back of a fork to push down lightly on top of the ball to flatten it slightly.
- Sprinkle a little cinnamon on each biscuit.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden (you have to watch them closely as the bottoms brown quickly).
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool.