Thursday 24 August 2017

Tahini and halva brownies

Brownies don't really need improving but when Yotam Ottolenghi speaks, I listen, and I'm glad I did. On the weekend, I made a half batch (why??), cut them up, packed them into a Tupperware and took them on the train down the south coast to a beach buffeted by wind and shared them with shivering friends.

Nutty sesame swirled through gooey chocolate studded with walnuts and little melt in your mouth morsels of halva. There's not much more to say really other than MAKE THEM.

Tahini and halva brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

I halved this recipe and it filled an 8 inch x 8 inch square tray nicely and yielded 16 brownies. Tahini should be available at most supermarkets (try the health food aisle) and look for halva at middle-eastern grocery stores, delis, spice/nut suppliers or good supermarkets (check the international section).

240g unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces
240g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
4 eggs
330g sugar
120g flour, sifted
30g cocoa powder
130g walnuts, lightly roasted and roughly chopped
150g tahini
130g halva, broken into pieces 

Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Quarter-fill a small saucepan with water and place on a high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and sit a heatproof bowl on top of the pan, making sure its base does not come into contact with the water. Put the butter and chocolate in the bowl, leave for about two minutes, to melt, then remove the bowl from the heat and stir until you have a thick, shiny sauce. Set aside to come down to room temperature.  

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy, and the whisk leaves a trail behind it – about three minutes with an electric whisk, longer by hand. Gently fold the chocolate mix into the eggs – don’t overwork the mix – then fold in the flour, cocoa, walnuts and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Pour into a 21cm x 31cm baking tray lined with baking paper and spread out into an even layer.  

Use a spoon to insert tahini into the batter in about 12 places, then use the back of a clean spoon to swirl it a little through the mix – not too much: you want it uneven. Dot the halva on the surface, pushing it down a little so that it is well submerged but still visible.  

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is crisp and the middle still has a slight wobble and is gooey inside: check after 18 minutes. The brownies may seem a bit undercooked at first, but they will firm up as they cool down. Cut into desired size and serve warm and gooey or more set at room temperature.


  1. How long did you bake the half-size batch?

    1. I'm pretty sure I baked them for the same amount of time, but check after 15 minutes, just to be sure.