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An Ottolenghi Weekend – Tahini Cookies

I have a confession to make. I love cooking. I’m great with savoury and I’m OK with desserts. I’m so so with baking and I’m terrible with biscuits (cookies). If you look back through my recipe posts, you’ll find only one for biscuits and even that’s for very basic Quinoa Crackers. I’ve talked before about the best bakers being the ones who grew up with it. The ones who learned at their mother or grandmother’s knee. My mum is a great cook but she isn’t a baker. I am a product of my environment. The proof in the pudding

My Version of Perfect

Still. I keep having a go. And this time, I’m glad I did. I made these deliciously short Tahini Cookies from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’ and they turned out perfectly! Not just ‘near enough is good enough, lucky it’s only the two of us eating these, perfect’ but ‘wow, these are really good, good enough to give as gifts and impress others, perfect’.  My version of perfect is that all the cookies are of a similar size, shape and even colour when they come out of the oven. My version of perfect is that they are baked evenly and are neither too soft nor too hard. My version of perfect is that they look like the picture in the book. Except there is no picture in the book so this makes them super perfect.

Tahini cookie 3

These cookies are incredibly easy to make and are similar in texture to shortbread though it’s the tahini rather than rice flour that gives them the almost grainy texture. Yes, there is a lot of butter but if you’re going to make biscuits, you might as well make decadent ones. These are great with a cup of strong coffee or you can crumble some over ice cream mixed with pistachio halva.

I’m a huge fan of sesame seeds, tahini, sesame oil, halva etc and for me, these could do with a little more tahini. Next batch I will be experimenting by adding another 25ml of tahini and perhaps halving the cream (with is minimal anyway so I question its inclusion). They could also benefit from sesame seeds pressed on top prior to baking.

Tahini Cookies
(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi)

Tahini cookie 1


  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 110g light tahini paste (I use Mayver’s)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25ml thickened cream
  • 270g plain flour
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon or sumac


  1. Place sugar and butter in a bowl and mix for a minute or so until just combined but not aerated
  2. Add tahini, vanilla and cream and mix again. Add flour and continue to mix until a dough comes together
  3. Knead in bowl for a minute or so until the dough is smooth
  4. Pinch off 20g of the dough and roll in the palms of your hand to form a ball, place on lined baking tray. Do not overcrowd the tray as they will spread slightly.
  5. Continue to roll balls of dough and place on baking tray. Press each ball flat with the back of a fork and sprinkle with a little cinnamon or sumac.
  6. Place the tray/s in an oven preheated to 200c/180c fan and cook for approx 15 minutes or until golden. Watch towards the end as they will catch and can over brown very easily.
  7. Slide the tahini cookies onto wire rack and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 – 35 biscuits


  • The recipe by Ottolenghi makes the tahini cookies in a mixmaster but I have adapted it to make by hand, for those who do not have or can not be bothered with a mixmaster. This is a very easy recipe and requires no elbow grease whatsoever as the dough comes together readily and does not need kneading (as he also suggests).
  • When I make these I sprinkle half with the topping and keep the other half plain, for a bit of variety. The sumac is my suggestion, in keeping with the Middle Eastern theme.
Tahini cookie 2

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8 comments… add one
  • Mel @ The cook's notebook June 8, 2014, 9:04 pm

    I made these recently too – aren’t they AMAZING! I hadn’t quite managed to blog them – will do soon… I made my own tahini too (but doubt I’ll do that again!)

    • Fiona Ryan June 9, 2014, 12:53 pm

      They are so quick aren’t they Mel? I assume you made the tahini in the Thermomix. You’re dedicated but yes, a jar is just as easy probably.

  • Lizzy (Good Things) June 9, 2014, 10:19 am

    These sound quite interesting, Fiona… if I hadn’t broken my foot I might perhaps bake them today too… what about some black sesame seeds on top?

    • Fiona Ryan June 9, 2014, 12:54 pm

      Black sesame would be great. Yes, sorry to hear about your foot. I know it won’t keep you down for long.

  • Roger Stowell November 18, 2014, 11:51 pm

    Great recipe. I’ve just been making a tart with Ottolenghi’s sour cream pastry from “Jerusalem”. When I’m in the UK I always bring back good Tahini to France with me…and I also have Sumac and good Vallee d’Auge cream….I’ll be eating these biscuits later.. Nice post, nice blog

    • Fiona Ryan November 19, 2014, 11:50 am

      Thanks so much for your very kind comments Roger. I’m always appreciative of new readers and those who take the time to comment. I know what you mean about not being able to get the right ingredients – Nigella’s damn pomegranate molasses used to be the bane of my existence but it’s freely available here now. What I wouldn’t give for some good cream or delicious French cheese though. Swings and roundabouts huh? I’ll have to check out the tart. Cheers!

  • Heather Smith March 1, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Is the first line of ingredients correct?

    10og caster sugar

    is that an og? or 100!

    we will try and make them 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan March 3, 2015, 6:50 pm

      100g – thanks for the spot Heather. I’ve corrected it.

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