Have you heard of BLACK tahini sesame paste? Neither had we until we stumbled upon it at our local TJ Maxx for $4.99. It was one of those, we can’t leave it there moments- you know the kind I mean- when you feel like you sort of scored food gold in a town where it can be hard to come by. I’m a total sucker for the food aisle at TJ Maxx. I know. It is not small batch. It is not shopping small. I struggle with this. I do. But only for about one minute as I walk from my car to the shop and then I’m on total visual overload and the thought is so far from gone I can’t even tell you. I don’t go often. But last week I was pulled in by the shiny red sign and happened to find myself with ten minutes to spare and a food aisle calling my name. I would normally head right to the sprinkles or baking treasures but something stopped me in the “health food” section. I did ask myself what I was doing there and then I spotted this jar of Sesame Black Tahini Paste by Dipasa. I bought it mostly because I had never seen it before and well, for $4.99 it was worth the chance.
I wondered if it would be that jar that sits in the back of the cupboard with good intentions but never gets used…but I promised myself I’d stop doing that. So I left it on the counter where I could see it each day. I have a fervent fear of my husband’s Marmite and it did, somewhat, have that look only in a much, much bigger jar. But I opened it you guys! And hoping and praying it would not smell like Marmite, I actually tasted it and was pleasantly surprised. It was nutty and savory. It was not thick or drippy but somewhere in the middle. It is a bit goopy and a lot messy but the flavor? Wow. If this is even possible, we found it to be subtly nutty yet strongly nutty at the same time. Did I tell you it was messy? I did…but it is really worth reminding you again. The difference between black tahini and regular tahini? Of course the obvious, black sesame seeds vs. white sesame seeds but also the flavor. We find the black tahini to be a bit smokier, a bit sweeter and a bit more palatable. While I wouldn’t personally be drawn to eat either on their own, even as a drizzle, that is just me. They are both a bit bitter for my taste. Black tahini is made with black sesame seeds that have not been hulled. This makes it a lot thicker. The seeds in white tahini have been hulled. From what we’ve read, the biggest difference aside from color is the nutritional value- black tahini packs the punch in that department.
We decided to try this out in three different recipes, two sweet and one savory. What we really love about black tahini is the versatility. From cookies to sauces this worked great with everything. Our favorite was adding it to Michel Roux’s pecan brownies. They were cake-like and nutty, made extra nutty with the addition of two tablespoons of black tahini paste.
We also loved it as a glaze for roasted carrots. We roasted the carrots in a slight drizzle of olive oil and then tossed them right from the oven into a bowl with 1/2 cup of the tahini paste, 2 tablespoons of really good olive oil and a drizzle of maple syrup. Perfect for an autumn night- the hints of nut and maple made the sweet flavor of the carrots become more savory. We topped ours with sage fresh from the garden.
We returned to sweetness for our last tahini experiment where we found a great recipe on BBC Good Food for Black Tahini Chocolate Cookies. We adjusted it somewhat, as we didn’t need to make black tahini and chose to omit the white chocolate drizzle as we wanted to go all out Halloween with ours. We made orange buttercream stuffed black tahini sandwiches and topped them with black sugar crystals. Take note….black sugar crystals are super messy. As in your teeth will be black. As in your fingers will be black. As in don’t let your kids use them unsupervised…you get my point. They were pretty though! And perfect to get us in the Halloween spirit this October.
If you have a favorite way to use black tahini paste we’d love to hear from you. I am not sure I can get on board with the black hummus but we may give it a go this Halloween just for something fun and different.