Tahini and halva brownies | Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Sweet)

I’ve mentioned my hunt for the perfect brownie before.  I think I can say with some surety that the best vegan brownies are Meera Sodha’s Salted Miso Brownies, but are they the best of all dairy and non-dairy brownies.  Short answer, no.  I so far haven’t tried an eggless brownie that balances that crispy meringue top with a fudge underneath.  There’s room in the world for both though, and I’ll welcome the day that science intervenes and creates that perfect vegan brownie that could just be the perfect brownie.

Until science does its thing, Yotam and Helen Goh might take the first place on the podium for their Tahini and halva brownies.  You can keep your sickly salted caramel and give me this sesame laden sweet treat.

Halva noun A dense, sweet sesame based confection.  A bit fudge-like.

Tahini noun Sesame paste, most commonly used in hummus.

Don’t be put off this recipe by the halva and tahini.  Tahini is now sold in most supermarkets, but it is cheaper and better in Middle Eastern grocers.  Halva is also available in Middle Eastern grocers but I’ve also seen it in Lidl.  Even if it does involve a shlep to the shops, these brownies are worth it.

Tahini and halva brownies | Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Sweet)
Tahini and halva brownies | This is about as much ‘decoration’ as I can manage in baking.

I’m particularly obsessed with these brownies because I have a mild nut allergy and have to avoid nuts where I can.  The nuttiness of the halva and tahini hit that nut fix I’ve been missing out on.  Finding a chunk of halva in your brownie is a treat.  The tahini adds to the nuttiness, but I feel like it’s also there for the DRAMA.  The marbled tahini top makes these brownies look much more impressive than they are.

Tahini and halva brownies | Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Sweet)
Tahini and halva brownies | Finding pretentious artsiness everywhere I look… perfect chiaroscuro on the crisp, meringue top.

If it isn’t clear from the photos, these Tahini and halva brownies have the crisp topping and by jove, the underneath hits that sweet spot between fudgey and cakey.  Hallelu.  They are undeniably rich but the nutty sesame balances the brownie, making them more moreish than most brownies.  Without restraint, these hollows legs of mine would be full of halva brownies in no time.

Tahini and halva brownies | Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Sweet)
Tahini and halva brownies | I forgot to take a single photo of the brownie interior until there were only two left.

I found an Americanized version of the recipe in Sweet online, but there’s a slightly different, hazelnutty version on Ottolenghi’s website.  The British, metric version of the recipe is on p.87 of Sweet which I recommend anyone purchase immediately.

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