Black tahini cookies, with optional eyeballs

Black tahini cookies

Spooky, delicious cookies, and a bit of a change from the sticky sweet candy. To be clear, I don’t think it is better–I do not buy into the whole wellness nonsense, and this holiday is all about the candy, after all!–but it’s nice to have variety. These are roasty with black sesame and, if you wish, can be sweetly spiced with cinnamon.

Mortar & pestle with black sesame

Homemade black tahini

It’s pretty straightforward to make your own black sesame paste for this recipe, but you could get black tahini or nerigoma, depending on what’s available to you.

Black tahini cookies

Black tahini cookies

From my point of view, these cookies aren’t isn’t a trick that goes ‘Ha ha you think it’s a gross and inedible novelty ingredient but actually it’s ok!!!’ for Halloween. It’s an ‘oh this is a nice black sesame cookie WITH EYEBALLS‘ thing. These are good for a party, as you can imagine, but with or without the eyeballs, these would of course be nice with a cup of tea.

Black tahini cookies
A slightly smaller, flatter batch. These were a scant tablespoon each, so I got more of them–around 20.


Adapted from A Sweet Spoonful.

Makes about 16 cookies. You can make them a bit smaller and stretch it to 20, but be sure not to over-bake.

You will get the best deal on black sesame in Asian shops, health food shops, and online.


black sesame paste (makes 4 gently rounded tbsp):
60g (approx 1/2 cup) black sesame seeds, raw or roasted (if you’re doing the sesame coating, toast an additional 1 1/2 tbsp and divide them for later)
2 tablespoons or more mild or neutral vegetable oil (e.g. light olive oil, sunflower oil)
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil

black tahini cookies:
90g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
50g unsalted butter, softened–cool but flexible
50g granulated sugar
Rounded 4 tbsp (lightly heaped 1/4 cup) well-stirred black sesame paste, from the above recipe or store bought
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

to roll (optional; makes enough to cover 1 batch, with a little leftover):
1 1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds, toasted
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
(or simply use cinnamon sugar, 2 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp ground cinnamon, with a pinch of salt, or indeed nothing at all.)
to finish
1 – 4 candy eyes per cookie (bought or homemade)
For the black sesame paste, dry toast the black sesame in a small pan (even if they come ready-roasted, toasting them fresh does make a difference; just do it briefly. They’re ready when they easily shatter into fragrant gritty powder between your fingers.
Pound in mortar for a few minutes until crumbly and clumpy. Add oil and pound for another 5 – 8 minutes until it’s as smooth as possible. You can also use a mini chopper; my ancient Kenwood justabout managed it in numerous 30 second pulses, it wasn’t really any faster than the mortar but was less effortful.
Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.
For the cookies, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and 50g sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until just combined, then beat in tahini, honey, and vanilla. Gently work in flour mixture in 2 batches to form a soft, crumbly dough. Scrape onto some clingfilm, cover, and press into a disk. Chill wrapped dough until firm, at least 1 hour, or you can hold it overnight, if not longer.

Meanwhile, make the black sesame sugar coating by grinding everything together in a mortar and pestle until seeds have broken down slightly.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Line 1 large baking tray (a quarter sheet will do nicely) with baking paper.

Use a tablespoon measure to scoop the dough. Make them nice and high so they turn out good and thick; it’s easier to add eyeballs to thicker cookies. Turn the dough balls in the black sesame sugar mixture, if using.

Arrange 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are puffed and some of them are just starting to crack, 8 – 10 minutes. They’ll be alarmingly soft, but they are done, I promise.

While the cookies are still hot, lightly push eyes into each cookie. Don’t worry if cookie cracks slightly; they will firm up. Allow to cool completely on trays before storing.

One thought to “Black tahini cookies, with optional eyeballs”

  1. This looks amazing! And I love sesame. I must try it when I’ve got time. Although I’ll have to buy a mortar :S Normally I just approximately crush some herbs/spices with a rolling pin end.

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