Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies / by Amy Cantu

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Everyone has a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and everyone says theirs is the best. They are all wrong. These Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever put in my mouth, and I have for sure eaten more chocolate chip cookies than any one person should ever eat in their whole lifetime. This fact obviously makes me an expert on the matter. (This obviously does NOT make me an expert on anything, except eating too much and too frequently. I digress.) What I can say with complete accuracy is that the cookie dough and baked cookies were so delicious, that I had to make a second double batch because I (and Cynthia, and my friend Christine, and my husband AJ, and my kids) couldn't stop eating them. The smell of them baking in the oven was so intoxicating that Cynthia and I couldn't wait for them to cool, so we burnt our fingers prying them off the cookie sheet and our tongues from the hot, oozing chocolate: It was absolutely worth it. The edges of the Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookie were crisp and crunchy, while the centers were soft, yielding, and chewy. The tahini flavor was subtle, but added a deep, nutty base that stood up to the velvety, rich dark chocolate. AJ (who doesn't crave sweets) couldn't stop at one cookie, while my kids speedily cleaned up their toys to share one more. I'm not saying these cookies are magical (O.K. that IS what I'm saying), but I think they might be the answer to world peace, happiness, and well-being . . . maybe.

Notes: The tahini flavor is pronounced in the cookie dough, but is much more subtle in the baked cookie. I added a tablespoon of sesame oil to play up the flavor a bit, but it does result in a more crisp cookie. 

The cookie dough really does need to rest in the fridge for 12 hours, so the flavors can mingle and the cookies don't spread too much when baked. I have doubled the quantities in the recipe included here because 25 cookies is the minimum to prevent a fist fight (or at the very least, Ro Sham Bo,) to determine who gets the last cookie. Save the angst and make enough for everyone to enjoy!

Also, the cookie dough freezes beautifully. Freeze the cookie dough balls in a single layer on a cookie sheet until hard, then transfer them to a sealed container or bag. Bake the dough balls straight from the freezer, adding a couple extra minutes to the baking time.

Time: 20 minutes (active), 12 ½ hours (inactive)
Yield: About 25 cookies

1 cup (1/2 lb) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup tahini, well stirred
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil (optional)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 ½ cups chocolate chunks or chips, bittersweet or semisweet
Flaky salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, tahini, sesame oil (if using), and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork or whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture at low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chunks. Dough will be soft, not stiff. Refrigerate at least 12 hours; this ensures tender cookies.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat.  For each cookie, roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball, and drop onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. (Cookies will spread while baking.)

Bake 13 to 16 minutes until just golden brown around the edges but still pale in the middle to make thick, soft cookies.  Or for crisp cookies, bake until evenly golden brown (about 1-2 minutes further). As cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle sparsely with salt. Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.