These beautiful cookies are marbled with a vanilla tahini and chocolate tahini cookie dough. This recipe is perfect for easy freezer, slice and bake cookies.
This recipe was inspired by the New York Times recipe for Marbled Tahini Cookies. Their version uses black tahini (no chocolate) in half of the dough. Instead, I use cocoa powder to make the “black” part making these cookies irresistible. I mean, who can resist vanilla and chocolate?! The tahini adds a wonderful nutty flavor, yet these cookies are still nut-free as well as gluten-free.
These cookies start with a base of gluten-free flour. My go-to gluten-free flour for baking is King Arthur Measure for Measure. It works well in almost all of my recipes and is available at most grocery stores. It is also the most affordable of the gluten-free flour blends I have tested.
I have found cookies to be the most sensitive to the brand of gluten-free flour used. Unlike wheat flour, gluten free flours are not created equal. It can be tricky to use a different brand, because each brand uses their own combination of types of flours and starches.
Pamela’s All-Purpose Artisan Blend is similar but sometimes requires a little more butter added to cookie dough. Cup4Cup is another widely available gluten-free flour blend, but I don’t test with it because it contains milk powder and I avoid milk.
All three of these flours are certified gluten-free and contain binders like xanthan gum, guar gum and inulin. Regardless of which flour blend you use, check the ingredients to see whether it has one of these binders. If it does not, you will need to add 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum to the recipe.
Tahini is a creamy paste made from sesame seeds. Its wonderful flavor comes through in the chocolate and vanilla dough of these cookies.
I have found that different brands of tahini have different consistencies. Some are creamy and pourable while others are closer to peanut butter texture. If your brand is quite stiff and thick, place it in the microwave for 10 or 15 seconds to loosen it up and make it easier to incorporate into the dough.
When you first open a jar of tahini, there may be a layer of oil on top. DO NOT discard it! Use a butter knife to stir it in before using. This oil will give the tahini a more creamy consistency. The separation may happen if the jar sits in your pantry for a long time. So always stir before using.
Of course, what would cookies be without butter? Yes, I have made some vegan cookies with butter subs, but I certainly prefer the flavor of butter. So these cookies still contain some butter as the fat, in addition to the tahini.
Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar gives cookies a wonderful delicate texture. It is one of my favorite ways to make cookies crunchy yet still delicate and melty in your mouth.
Cocoa powder – Half of the cookie dough will be combined with a chocolate mixture flavored with cocoa powder. If you need a gluten-free cocoa powder. Hershey’s is the easiest to find.
Creating a pretty marbled effect just takes a couple of simple steps. After making the vanilla and chocolate doughs, form them into rectangular blocks.
Cut them into 4 pieces each.
Make 2 stacks of alternating doughs.
IMPORTANT: Fold only 3 times, in different directions (without mushing too hard). You might be tempted to knead the dough, but creating the marbled effect takes very little manipulation. If you mush and fold too much, your cookies will turn out looking like the ones below:
Then gently press the 2 stacks together. If you press down too hard or fold too much the marbling effect will disappear – so less is more!
From this point you have 2 options. Lightly press the dough into a plastic wrap lined mini loaf pan (if you have one) and fold the plastic wrap over to cover the top.
Or, form the dough into a rectangular log using something with a flat surface. Then wrap it snugly in plastic wrap. It should be around 6″ long by 3″ in wide.
To make slicing the dough easier, it will be refrigerated for at least an hour.
Marbled Tahini Cookies (Chocolate and Vanilla)
- 7 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 Tbsp tahini
- ⅔ c powdered sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature*
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, powder or bean paste
- 1⅔ c gluten-free flour blend
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
Chocolate Dough Addition
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Place the butter, tahini and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium high for 15 seconds, then scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat another 30 seconds or until combined and creamy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium high until the mixture is creamy and uniform.
- Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat on medium high until the dough comes together into a few large hunks – about 30 seconds.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a symmetrical square or rectangle.
- Cut off 1/3 of it and cover the rest with a towel or plastic wrap.
Make the Chocolate Dough
- Break the ⅓ portion into 4 or 5 pieces and place back in the mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder, tahini, powdered sugar and butter to the mixing bowl and beat on low for 10-15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on high until there are no streaks or chunks of of chocolate or vanilla.
- Scrape the chocolate dough out of the bowl and form into a rectangular log.
- Lightly dust the counter with flour or use a piece of parchment paper as your surface. Cut the chocolate dough into four equal pieces and do the same with the vanilla dough.
- Make two stacks with these pieces alternating vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, chocolate so that each stack has four layers.
- Fold the stack only 2 or 3 times gently to create a marbled effect. If you smash and knead too much the 2 doughs will meld together, so less is more! Do the same with the other stack.
- Then combine the two stacks by gently pressing together
- If you have a mini loaf pan, line it with plastic wrap (if not see the next step). Place the dough in the pan, spread evenly to the edges and gently flatten and level the top.
- OR, if you don't have a mini loaf pan, gently form the dough into a rectangular log. Using a board scraper or something with a flat surface that will help to get it square.
- Refrigerate for 90 minutes or as long as overnight. To save some for later, you can also freeze the dough wrapped tightly in plastic and placed in a zip top bag. Defrost frozen dough for 1½-2 hours before slicing.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the dough from the loaf pan and/or the plastic wrap. Use a smooth bladed (not serrated) large knife to cut quarter inch slices. Wipe the knife in between to avoid streaks.
- Place the slices on an ungreased sheet pan (parchment lining optional) about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store these cookies in an air tight container and they will stay fresh for at lest 5 days.