SMiLes by Meg

Tahini Halvah Brownies

It’s Spring Break! And Spring Break means fun baking. This week I tackled another Ottolenghi recipe: Tahini Halvah Brownies.

Ottolenghi uses tahini a lot, and I am yet to meet a recipe of his where I wish he didn’t. For example, I rarely eat banana bread without some tahini, salt, and honey these days. And his hummus is very tahini forward, which I firmly believe is for the best. So when I saw these brownies, with their swirls of tahini across the top, I knew they’d be one of the first recipes in his baking book that I tackled.

Now, the other star of the show, halvah, I knew a lot less well. In fact, I knew nothing about it, other than the fact that I saw a recipe for halvah ice cream in another one of Ottolenghi’s books. Fortunately, Erik, when I expressed my dismay on this unknown ingredient, exclaimed, “I love Halvah!” That doesn’t mean it’s a Whole Foods staple, but it does mean it’s accessible within driving distance of my apartment. I started by googling Middle Eastern bakeries near me, which found me a great local option. I drove over, only to find that they were closed on Sundays. so I took a gamble and checked the Star Market next door. As luck would have it, they had halvah bars!

Outside of their obvious place in brownies, you can just eat these things straight. They’re kind of airy, definitely sesame-forward, and a yummy sweet. In a brownie, though, they are a great crunchy-but-not-nutty addition.

If you needed more reason to make these outside of the amazing combination of chocolate and sesame, they’re also quick! And got my mom’s/brother’s seal of approval.

So these brownies. Start by melting the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring frequently.  Set aside to cool completely. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about three minutes, until pale yellow and thick. While those are beating, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Fold the melted chocolate mixture into the batter until just combined. Then fold in the dry ingredients, again until just combined. Break the halvah into the batter, and fold it in until thoroughly spread through. Spread the batter into an 8×8 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Put about 12 dollops of tahini on top, and drag a knife or skewer through to swirl around. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the middle only jiggles slightly. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.And that’s it! These would be great with ice cream, though they’re also great fine. Store in an airtight container.


Tahini Halvah Brownies


  • 1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 9 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 oz halvah, broken into pieces
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste


  1. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolate over simmering water until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed until pale yellow and thick.
  3. Fold in melted chocolate mixture until just combined.
  4. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a small bowl. Fold into batter.
  5. Fold in halvah pieces.
  6. Spread batter into an 8×8 inch pan lined with parchment paper.
  7. Drop 12 dollops of tahini on top of batter. Swirl together with a knife or skewer.
  8. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until middle jiggles just a little.
  9. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely before cutting.

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