Making Manresa Bread’s Terrific Tahini Cookies

Nutty, elegant tahini cookies.

Nutty, elegant tahini cookies.


Nothing beats the high of discovering a favorite new treat at a bakery or restaurant.

And nothing stings like the blow of finding out the establishment has decided to take it off the menu.

We’ve all been there, right?

When Food Gal reader Kristy W. discovered that her favorite tahini cookies had been yanked from the bakery case at the new Manresa Bread in Campbell, she was beside herself.

So what did she do? She asked yours truly if I could somehow get the recipe.

Well, Kristy, your wish is my command.

Fortunately, Avery Ruzicka, head baker and co-founder of Manresa Bread, was only too happy to share the recipe.

Ruzicka thankfully scaled down the recipe so that it’s easily made in a home KitchenAid mixer. Because all the measurements were in grams — as professional bakers are wont to do for precision — I tackled converting everything into imperial measures instead since I know not everyone owns a culinary scale (though they should!).

As such, you’ll find a few of the measurements a little odd — such as the 2 1/2 large eggs, but that’s what 125 grams of eggs equates to. So, just go with it, I say.

King Arthur durum flour

King Arthur durum flour.

You’ll also need to source durum flour, as the recipe calls for that plus all-purpose. As you probably know, Manresa Bread mills almost all of its flours on site. Durum flour is a high-protein flour often used for making pasta and bread. It’s pale yellow in color and has a very fine, powdery texture. Semolina flour is often referred to as durum flour interchangeably. But I found that semolina — or at least the bag I had at home — was not nearly so fine in texture as the durum flour I mail-ordered from King Arthur. A 3-pound bag is $8.95. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you could try using semolina or just use more all-purpose; just know, though, that the texture of the cookies may be heavier then.

The dough, made with tahini and freckled with both black and white sesame seeds, comes together quickly in the mixer.

Portion into balls, about 3 tablespoons each, then bake.

The cookies have a delicate crisp exterior and are soft within, owing to the brown sugar. The seeds give subtle hits of crunch here and there.

Think of them almost like peanut butter cookies but with tahini (roasted, ground sesame seed paste) instead. The tahini provides a more elegant, refined nuttiness that doesn’t hit you over the head with a hammer like rough and tumble peanut butter does.

No wonder Kristy can’t get enough of these cookies.

The good news is that Manresa Bread is likely to bring back the tahini cookies later this spring.

If you can’t wait that long, just take matters into your own hands and bake your own.

A nice change of pace from chocolate chip, peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies.

A nice change of pace from chocolate chip, peanut butter or snickerdoodle cookies.

Manresa Bread Tahini Cookies
(Makes about 36 cookies)

2 sticks plus 4 1/2 tablespoons (294 grams) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/3 cups (319 grams) tahini

1 1/2 cups (281 grams) packed light brown sugar

1 1/3 (260 grams) cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 (125 grams) large eggs

2 1/2 cups (338 grams) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (213 grams) durum flour

1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt

1 1/4 teaspoon (7.5 grams) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (78 grams) black sesame seeds, toasted

1/2 cup white sesame seeds (78 grams), toasted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, tahini, and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

With mixer on low, slowly stream in the vanilla and eggs, being careful not to break the emulsion.

In a medium bowl, sift together all-purpose and durum flours, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

Add dry ingredients to mixing bowl. Mix on low speed just until incorporated.

Add sesame seeds to the dough, mixing on low speed just until combined.

Line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Form dough balls (about 3 tablespoons each), and place on baking tray, spacing two inches apart. Using your palm, slightly flatten each one.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating half-way through the cooking time, until edges turn slightly golden.

Transfer tray to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from the tray and place back on rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Manresa Bread

Chicken Schnitzel

More: A Visit to the New Manresa Bread in Campbell


And: Tahini Shortbread Cookies

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  • I am so excited! I ordered my flour already from King Arthur, there is no way I am going to change anything about this wonderful cookie recipe! Thank you so much!

  • Looks great! Avery rocks.

    Thank you for doing the scaling and conversions but can you provide the weight (grams or ounces) for the flours, and the brown sugar? The others conversions are pretty standard but people use different ratios for flour volume to weight, and since she gave you grams, I would like to use those numbers.

    As you say, “not everyone owns a culinary scale (though they should!).” Yes!!

  • Hi! Do you think you could provide the gram measurements as well? I bake by grams and would love to get those measurements as well, please! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Moe and Nabeela: Your wish is my command. I just added in the gram measurements. Happy baking! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Carolyn, thank you so much for converting to grams. I also bake by weight (I weigh everything I eat anyway unless I am at a restaurant). I didn’t want to ask you since you had already worked so hard to get the recipe for me and baked the cookies and posted about them.

  • Kristy: You’re welcome! Nice to see that so many folks actually do use kitchen scales. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Are you taking requests? It seems that the Manresa polenta cake also comes and goes and I LOVE it.

  • Brent: LOL I can always ask! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I 2nd the Polenta cake!!

  • Thank you Caroline!!

  • Sharon: Wow! That polenta cake must be dynamite. I’ll see if Avery will part with that recipe, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • it’s always exciting to me to stumble upon a new cookie, and this is definitely new! sounds delicious and looks perfect. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • If you’re taking requests, I’d LOVE the recipe for the whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. It’s the best cookie on the planet, PERIOD. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Nabeela: I can always ask. LOL It may be awhile, though. Another Food Gal reader asked me to get the Manresa Bread polenta cake recipe, too, but it’s been awhile since Chef Avery has gotten back to me with it. I’m sure she’s swamped. So if you can be extremely patient, I can see what I can do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Thank you, thank you!!

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