Food + Wine

Open Sesame! Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies with a Sesame Caramel Swirl

Yeah, I know. That’s a lot of words.  But I needed all of them to fully paint the taste picture of these babies.  So, let’s talk sesame.  It may sound odd to include sesame seeds in a dessert, especially a chocolate one.  But if you break it down, sesame is a seed… which is close to a nut… and nobody is weirded out about using nuts in desserts.

Especially a chocolate one.

And since we’ve gotten that out of the way, you can now totally understand why it’s acceptable and downright amazing in concept to use tahini in desserts.

Especially a chocolate one.

Tahini being a paste made out of ground sesame seeds… sort of like how peanut butter is a paste made out of peanuts…?

It’s sesame butter, y’all.

We good now?


Plus, I saw a picture of a tahini brownie in a food magazine while I was in a massively feverish flu-ed up state last week that I apparently ripped out to try to recreate.  I just found it in one of my many, many bags.  And my daughter and I went to work on them over the weekend…

she takes back-up bowl licker very seriously

My son is a little old to make ‘cooking with mommy’ his very first choice, which makes me a little sad if I think long and hard about it.  He was always in the kitchen with me and the very best helper.  I had him cracking eggs since he could hold one.  And it’s also just where I always was, so they (and also I) didn’t really have a choice in the matter 😉  He still enjoys himself when he does it, and those moments are precious.  But I can still count on my baby girl to want to be right there beside me.  She’s the best measurer, can crack an egg like a champ, and knows the bonus is that she gets to snack while she works.

I spent all of Sunday doing what I love to do best.  The windows were down, it was breezy and off and on rainy, and I just cooked all day.  Around my family, in my home, feeling almost back to my 100% pre-flu self.

It’s taken me awhile to get back to feeling like me again.  I’ve been off and on sick for a bit, the latest flu episode certainly didn’t do me any favors.  But I also had some personal issues that rocked me pretty hard, and the ripple effect of that was a lot more profound than I anticipated, so I had to fight my way out of a dark place.

I’ve never considered myself a kind of person who had to ‘choose happy’ or work hard at finding happiness or stability.  I’ve been fortunate in that way, I suppose.  But I really have had to work on that these past couple of months.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, how even those of us who consider ourselves as rocks, who have taken on the role of ‘solid one’ in their circle, can still be bent just enough to threaten a break.  And stopping, turning off the world, and hunkering down with your immediate family usually is the best thing you can do to begin to start climbing again.

And actively choosing to be happy.

Deciding that today you will not be any other thing by happy, and grateful, and fully aware of the presence of all the beautiful things that surround you.

It takes a lot of mental strength, but it’s amazing what our own mind’s are capable of, if we just allow them to help us.

Back to the brownies.

So maybe I didn’t make up the concept of using tahini in brownies.  You’ve probably seen it twirling around the foodisphere for a little while now.  This is just my version of them.  And, obvi I think they’re the best.


And what happens with these brownies is something soo magical.

Not only is the brownie itself one of the most rich and fudgey brownies I’ve ever made…

Not only are they naturally gluten free… (no gluten-free flour substitute… something you already have and probably use a lot!)

Not only are they about half as sweet as most, but undetectable as such…

But I mix the tahini with some honey and swirl it into the brownie batter… and when it bakes, not only is it gorgeous… the sesame and honey create this sort of rich and nutty caramel that really wants to stick to your teeth but only flirts with the idea.

so . good.

I served them to my kids – normal eaters, ages 10 and 6…  My husband – normal eater who also likes when I make things healthier…  My dad – likes only non-weird food.  And my mom – all around solid eater who appreciates real food, but also healthy fair…

And every  . single . one of them loved these.  I even got yummy mouth noises from all.

So, I think that says a lot 😉

Next time you’re in the mood for something decadent and rich and dark chocolately, but also fun and different and wow-factor-y, and also not entirely on the glutinous side…

Make these.

(Maybe this weekend for the Oscars!  Love that gold swirl 😉 )

And studies show, you won’t be disappointed.


with a


makes 9 large brownies

In a microwavable, preferably glass measuring bowl, combine the following…

  • 8 oz semi sweet chocolate morsels
  • 3 TB coconut oil (if you use un-refined, the coconut flavor will be stronger.  refined coconut oil is fairly innocuous and what I tend to use when I don’t need the coconut flavor)
  • 1 TB tahini (please be sure that your label reads only sesame seeds)

Microwave this on high, in 1 minute increments, until fully melted and smooth and glossy.  Whisk each time you check on it.

Leave inside the microwave to keep warm-ish, but not too hot, while you continue…

While your chocolate is melting, combine the following dry ingredients in a small bowl…

  • 3 TB cornstarch
  • 3 TB cocoa powder (be sure it’s unsweetened, standard cocoa powder for baking)
  • 1 TB instant espresso or coffee (I always use decaf bc I never know the tolerance level or age of who I’m baking for… it’s always better to be safe than sorry)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Whisk until no lumps are present.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, with electric beaters, OR a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the following…

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (always pack it in there)
  • splash vanilla extract

Beat this until smooth and frothy, and light and airy… 3-4 minutes or so.

Add in the melted chocolate/tahini/coconut oil mixture and beat in until fully incorporated.

Add in the cocoa/cornstarch/coffee/salt mixture and beat until you get a thick and smooth batter.

Pour into a 8×8 baking dish with overlapping (greased!) pieces of parchment (for easy removal and slicing), OR feel free to just grease the pan straight 😉

Smooth the batter to an even layer.

In a small bowl, combine the following for the swirl…

  • 3 TB tahini
  • 1 TB honey

Mix well.

Spoon some onto the brownie batter surface, in about 5-6 locations.

Take a wooden skewer (or butter knife if you don’t have one) and swirl the tahini mixture into the brownie batter.  There’s no perfect way it will come out, just swirl until you like what you see!

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the surface is fairly firm, the edges have begun to separate from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs… but no wet batter.

Allow to cool in the pan until safe to touch.

Remove by grabbing the parchment pieces on each side and continue to cool completely on a rack for immediate storage… or preferably for slicing while still warm!

Looka how rich these are!!!

Ugh.  Having flashbacks.

Thanks for reading, y’all.  Hope you’re all doin’ mighty fine. xo

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