Tahini Shortbread Cookies

You might as well call these halva cookies, because once you add something sweet to tahini (like honey, sugar, maple, or silan), it tastes just like halva. And like halva, these crumbly, soft, nutty cookies are utterly delicious and work wonderfully with a variety of spices, especially cinnamon and cardamom, or sweet hawaij, the redolent Yemenite spice blend, which was the fragrance of my childhood. Be sure to use good-quality raw tahini without any trace of bitterness.

Recipe by Einat Admony, from Shuk, © 2019 Artisan

Makes 24 cookies


3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (but not too soft)
1 cup (240 ml) best-quality raw tahini
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (290 g) plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sweet hawaij, you can use Yemen N10
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Marcona almonds or blanched whole almonds
Powdered sugar, for dusting


In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment blend together sugar, butter, tahini, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

In a separate bowl whisk flour, baking powder, Yemen N10, and a pinch of salt. Add to the butter and mix until fully combined.

Remove the dough and divide into two separate logs. Place each log onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll tightly and twist each end to secure. While rolling, firmly push the ends of the log towards the center. This will make the cookie log shorter in length but wider in diameter. Roll until the cookie log is an even cylinder with a diameter of about 1 1⁄2 inches. The perfect size for a two-bite cookie.

Place in refrigerator and chill for least 1 hour (if you are in a pinch you can chill for 30 minutes but it’s better to let the dough get nice and cold before cutting. This will yield a cookie that will hold its shape in the hot oven). I like to make a double batch and freeze the remaining dough for another occasion. If wrapped properly the dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month. To thaw place in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 ̊.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, remove plastic wrap and and slice into 1⁄4 inch thick slices. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press an almond into the center of each cookie. Sometimes the cookies crack/break when putting in the almond. If this happens just wait a minute for the dough to soften up which will make it easier to press the almonds in to the dough without any cracking.

Bake for 12-17 minutes until lightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and DO NOT TOUCH. It’s important to let them cool completely on the baking sheet before removing. If you try to remove them while they are still warm they will crumble and fall apart. Once completely cool, remove and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Just before serving give a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Photo © Quentin Bacon