Let’s Talk About Tahini

Tahini is one of those miracle ingredients that makes tons of dishes better. It plays a starring role in the best hummuses around, lending nuttiness and depth. But it’s also great in cookie dough, on ice cream, on cauliflower–you name it. I’ve found so many ways to use tahini that I always keep a jar around my house.

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Tahini topped soft serve, with a side of sesame candy for good measure

What is tahini, exactly? It’s made up of ground, toasted sesame seeds. The flavor varies quite a bit by brand, so you might need to shop around for the brand you like. I’ve noticed that certain brands are smoother and more pleasant to eat with a spoon, but other brands can be a bit thick and bitter. I’ve had good luck with both Joya and Whole Foods 365.

Tahini has a slightly earthier flavor than peanuts, but most people really can’t tell the difference once it’s in baked goods. The flavor is more pronounced if you use it as a dressing or drizzle–like the amazing soft serve with tahini sauce that I tried at Seed + Mill last year.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite tahini dishes so far–and what I want to try next.

My favorite tahini recipes:

Tahini swirled brownies: This is a pretty simple way to dip your toe into the tahini dessert waters. Just make your favorite brownie recipe, and swirl a layer of tahini in the top before you throw the pan in the oven. I also topped mine with sesame seeds for extra texture. You could put a swirl in the middle too–just pour in half the batter, add a tahini swirl, and top with the rest of your batter.

Tahini Cupcakes with Chocolate Tahini Frosting: This was my first foray into baking with tahini. They taste sort of nutty, with a lovely texture.

Tahini Peanut Butter Chip Cookies: These use tahini in the base dough and peanut butter chips as a flavor accent. I’d omit the pumpkin seeds if I made them again–they just didn’t seem necessary!IMG_1448.jpg

Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies:These are easy and pretty incredible. Sesame gives the dough a unique flavor, and you can’t go wrong with salted chocolate.

Tahini recipes I want to try: 

Tahini Dirty Blondies: I keep meaning to make these! They look delightfully chewy.

Zahav’s hummus: My favorite hummus so far was at Dizengoff in NYC. It’s so rich, pillowy and satisfying.  I’ve read that the trick is lots of high-quality tahini, and several prep steps that enhance each ingredient’s flavor.

Tahini French Toast: I first had tahini french toast at a place called Bar Bolonat in NYC. I immediately looked for recipes to try at home–but sadly, haven’t actually made it yet!

Carrot Tahini Muffins: I can’t quite imagine what these would taste like–which is usually my cue to try a recipe! They look scrumptious and satisfying in the photos, and I bet you it’s a unique flavor.

Carrot Lentil Cakes: I bake more than I cook, but these lentil cakes sure look good.

Roasted Butternut Squash: This recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi is the king of vegetables with tahini sauces. This one looks great, and I also tried  one of his cauliflower recipes recently at a friend’s house.

Black Tahini Morning Buns: Black sesame is richer than white sesame. I can’t stop thinking about a black sesame kougin aman that I tried a couple months ago, so this recipe is a must-try for me.

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Recipe roundup: Valentine’s Day

I loved Valentine’s Day as a kid. It was an excuse to eat lots of candy, wear lots of pink and tell people nice things. What’s not to like?

I wish we did Valentine’s Day mailboxes at work, like we did as kids. Maybe I should make that happen next year. But in the meantime, I’m sitting here daydreaming about pink cupcakes and heart-shaped cookies and all the other lip-smacking Valentine’s Day desserts.

Here’s a roundup of the Valentine’s Day recipes I’m most excited about this year, plus some recipes from my blog that just might do the trick for your V-day needs.

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From Jo Cooks

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones: Start your day with a dash of red and a bit of sugar. These scones from Jo Cooks sure look scrumptious.

Olive Oil Cupcakes with Berry Buttercream: The base cupcake is an intriguing mix of almond, orange and olive oil. Top that with a mixed berry buttercream, and you have yourself a Valentine’s Day winner. These come from Molly Yeh, so you know they’re good!

Blackberry Lemon Cake: This cake from Natasha’s Kitchen gets its flavor from blackberry frosting and lemon simple syrup. It’s simple, sounds delicious and the blackberries make it a lovely shade of purply pink.

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From Bakers Royale

Watercolor Heart Cookies: I saw these gorgeous cookies from Bakers Royale in my Pinterest feed yesterday and can’t stop thinking about them!

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting: I love frosted brownies, and this recipe from The Recipe Critic looks delightfully rich.

M&M Cookie Bars: A simple cookie bar recipe, jazzed up with seasonal pink and red M&Ms by No.2 Pencil.

Strawberry Thyme Cake: One last cake option for you, because I can never resist a bit of herbs with my dessert. This combo from The Cake Blog sounds delicious and looks great!

Conversation Heart Cookies: These cookies are so fun, especially because I Am A Food Blog strayed away from traditional V-day colors. As much as I love red and pink, it’s nice to have some other colors in the mix, too!

Recipes on this blog:

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Craving more ideas? Check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.

Web-Hopping vol. 26

It’s been a while since I did a web-hopping post! That doesn’t mean my actual web-hopping stopped, though. I add dozens of recipes to my “must bake” list every week. Right now, I’m all about fall flavors. From pumpkin to zucchini—I’ll take them all.

Apples are particularly top of mind for me this week, because friends are starting to post their apple picking pictures. I love apple picking, and used to go every year when I lived in the midwest. It’s a tad harder when you live in San Francisco and don’t own a car…but I’m sure I can make it happen!

In the meantime, I plan on scooping up tons of apples from my local markets. Here are the six apple recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and few old favorites.

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Pretzels from Baked by Rachel

Apple and cheddar soft pretzels: I’ll be honest: I get lazy about making yeasted recipes. But these have been on my list for years (literally) and maybe this will be the year I finally make them happen!

Caramel apple shortbread bars: I mean, what’s not to like? A buttery cookie-like base, topped by the classic combo of caramel and apple.

Apple cinnamon zucchini muffins: Zucchini makes for moist, flavorful baked goods so it’s the perfect solve for muffins—which are often too dry for my taste. And in this recipe, chunks of apple take things to an even better place.

 

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Snickerdoodles from Bob’s Red Mill

Apple pie-stuffed snickerdoodles: I mean: just look at that picture. You cook up apples like you’re gonna throw them in a pie…but instead, you throw them in the middle of snickerdoodles. And you all know how much I love a good stuffed cookie!

Apple shortcake with honey, cinnamon and lavender: Naturally, I’m intrigued by the lavender in here. I can’t quite imagine how it will taste…which makes the recipe super compelling! (Warning: this recipe is in Hebrew. If I ever make it, I’ll report back on whether translating the page works out!!!)

Ginger apple molasses cake: I’m a sucker for anything ginger or molasses, so clearly this is a must-make. I also love that it has mascarpone frosting!

And just in case you’re craving more: here’s a handy roundup of apple recipes I’ve shared with you in the past.

Web-Hopping vol. 25

I love holiday baking season. The gingerbread, the peppermint, the beautifully decorated cookies. There’s just so much to bake and taste!  I’ve already started digging into my holiday recipe collection. Some of these are really easy recipes… others, not so much. I know I can’t make it to everything on my list, but I’ve definitely set some priorities for where to start. Here are a few of the holiday baking recipes I’m most excited about this year, from complex desserts to easy breakfast treats.

Ginger apple molasses cake with mascarpone frosting: What an incredible flavor combo! This cake would be the perfect cake for a festive holiday meal. I just tried my first recipe from the Broma Bakery blog today and it was fabulous, so I’d definitely trust this cake recipe too.

Ginger cakes: The first time I tasted gingerbread was at Colonial Williamsburg, funnily enough. It was this soft, pillowy, cakey cookie and I’ve dreamt of it for years, but have never found gingerbread that comes close to that texture. So obviously I have to give this recipe a shot!

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From Cooking Classy

Funfetti shortbread bites: These adorable little cookies are ALL OVER Pinterest. I’m on Pinterest all the time for work (so tough, right?) and I just keep seeing these beauties pop out at me. So clearly they need to happen soon.

Fudgy mint brownies: I impulse bought mint Oreos the other day, and now I know what I’m going to do with them! Tossing them into brownie batter sounds awesome.

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From Baked in AZ

White chocolate peppermint crunch cookies: These would be fabulous for a cookie exchange! I love peppermint, and it goes so nicely with white chocolate.

Pumpkin gingerbread: I’ve actually made this before, but it’s been a few years so it is back on my list. Pumpkin and gingerbread go really nice together and this is a perfect breakfast treat.

Want more holiday recipe inspiration? Check out my Cookie Swap and Holiday Baking boards on Pinterest!

 

Web-Hopping vol. 24

It’s a gloomy weekend here in San Francisco. That’s quite alright by me, because I have nowhere to go, and nothing to do! My last couple months were pretty jam-packed, so I decided to lay low this weekend. My plans for the next couple days? Reading, writing, baking, repeat. In other words: it’s gonna be awesome.

Don’t worry, though. I’m not missing out on Halloween entirely. We had a super fun Halloween party yesterday at work and wore costumes all day. My team dressed up as characters from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in a tribute to Gene Wilder. It was loads of fun… but now I have the Oompa Loompa song stuck in my head!

img_2148After work, the whole company headed to a costume contest and Halloween bash. There were some creative nibbles, from Cookie Monster cupcakes to “mummy in a blanket” hot dogs and monster Rice Krispie treats. I’ve been eyeing those monsters on Pinterest for a while, so it was fun to see them come to life!

Now, on to the links! Here are a few favorite food-ish things from the past week:

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From the Butter Baking site

A new cake crush: How beautiful are these cakes? I stumbled on Butter Baking’s site the other day and fell in love with Natasha’s style. Natasha lives in Australia… any Australian readers want to take one for the team, and order a custom cake?

Cream cheese Funfetti bars: The NYT did an awesome piece on Funfetti a couple days ago so I have sprinkles on my mind. Fun fact: Pinterest users ages 25-34 have saved 260% more Funfetti ideas this year! That’s a lotttttta Funfetti.

Apple monkey bread muffins: These easy muffins look like the perfect morning treat. I love that they use apple butter–it’s one of my favorite fall flavors! And since this recipe uses biscuit dough, you don’t even have to worry about yeast.

img_2125Vampire donuts: These vampire donuts totally made my Wednesday morning. Sitting near the marketing team has its perks! They had some leftover supplies, so we all got to make our own spooky treats.

Cherry lime gooey butter bars: I’m a huge fan of gooey butter cake, a St. Louis classic that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Bakers Royale added an awesome fruity twist with this cherry-lime combo.

For many, many more recipe ideas, take a peek at my Pinterest boards.

Web-hopping vol. 24

It’s been a while since I wrote a Web-hopping post, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped adding to my recipe lists! I’m always scheming about baking experiments and I save new recipes pretty much daily. So many recipes, never enough time!

To reintroduce Web-hopping, let’s talk about my favorite baking season: fall. The apples! The pumpkins! The squash! It’s enough to get this baker giddy. In fact, I’ve already started amassing tons of recipes on a dedicated Pinterest board.

As a kid growing up in southern California, “fall” was more of a concept than a reality. It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I truly understood the crisp feel of a fall day, the comfort of warm cider, the seasonal menus. Now that I’m back in California, fall is the season I miss most. Any time we have a crisp San Francisco morning, I flash back to my years in the Midwest and wish I could head down to the farmer’s market for some fresh pumpkin butter, hot cider and apples galore.

Even if I can’t have fall weather, I can certainly have fall flavors. Here are some of the frontrunners for my fall baking season:

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Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread from Girl Versus Dough

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Pull-Apart Bread: I love cinnamon streusel and I love soft, pillowy breads – so this recipe looks like a winner! I think I’ll bring this to work on a Monday, to make Monday morning just a little sweeter.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Salted Caramel Icing: These make me nostalgic for the brunch potlucks I used to host when I lived in Chicago. Sadly I don’t have the space to host friends for brunch anymore, but maybe I can convince a friend to host and bring all the goodies! I love this combo of pumpkin and caramel, and think the salted icing will add a special touch.

Roasted Butternut Squash Cornbread: Butternut squash adds a really unique flavor to baked goods. I’ve made butternut squash cupcakes in the past that were a huge hit. This year I want to incorporate squash into more types of treats, and this cornbread looks like a good place to start.

Apple Blondies: I’m digging the idea of apple chunks in a blondie. These look delightful, and they’re on my radar for fall party treats.

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Pumpkin Brookies from Crazy for Crust

Pumpkin Brookies: I adore a good combo dessert, and I’m really excited about this one! The bottom layer is a pumpkin blondie and the top layer is a brownie. TBD when I make these, but they’re definitely popping up in my kitchen at some point this fall!

Baked Apple Cake with Cinnamon Frosting: This recipe is written in German – but Google Translate can come to our rescue! I’ve made some apple cakes in the past and love how chunks of apple nestle into soft cake layers. This recipe looks especially delicious thanks to its cinnamon frosting.

Bonus round! Here are a few of my favorite fall-tinged recipes from previous years:

Web-Hopping vol. 23

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From Hearth’s website

I’m going to start off this edition of Web-Hopping by mentioning the goodness that is Brie en Croûte. Imagine you have baked Brie, but it in a more individually sized portion, with a buttery, flaky exterior. That, dear readers, is the Brie en Croûte pastry that I sampled at San Francisco coffee shop Hearth this weekend. Delicious Cowgirl Creamery cheese, enveloped in buttery pastry and sprinkled with a topping of sea salt. I can’t claim it was the healthiest breakfast ever but it sure was satisfying.

File_000I also stopped by the Dandelion Chocolate Factory and Cafe for dessert this weekend. I picked a simple chocolate chip cookie – not my usual strategy, but I had a really strong craving for this classic treat. I may have also had an ulterior motive… but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what that was! My boyfriend picked up their take on s’mores: house-made graham cracker, a layer of delectable chocolate and a generous portion of marshmallow. They make all the components right there at the cafe.

Alright, enough about what I ate in real life this weekend – and on to the links!

Carrot Tahini Muffins: I am so intrigued. There is just no other way to put it. I loved using tahini in cupcakes, and now I’d love to see how it impacts other kinds of baked goods, too.

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Fun idea from Betty Crocker

Teddy at the Beach Cupcakes: Let’s be real – I’ll probably never make these. But they were on my Pinterest feed and they’re adorable, so here you are.

Mini Lime Cheesecakes with a Chocolate Crust: I love the idea of lime cheesecake! These look nicely dainty with a layer of lime curd-enhanced whipped cream on the top.

Citrus Croissant French Toast: Immediately added this to my list for whenever I actually bother to make plated breakfasts. A.k.a. whenever I get a bigger apartment and can host company again…