After a marvelous ramen meal at a DC restaurant I had a disappointing dessert. The starters, ramen, and noodle dishes were all delicious. The miso butter creme cookies not so much. Instead, they were meh chocolate chip cookies with a dab of miso butter on the side. On the way home I decided to invent my own version of the cookies. These Miso Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies are the result.
Maybe I should not have expected so much in the dessert, as the Japanese are not known for their sweets. Still, I found the cookie itself uninspired, and the need to dredge it through a dollop of miso cream less than exciting.
I researched recipes that include either miso or tahini or both in cookies. Some had chocolate, others did not. I’ve been known to experiment and come up with my own version of a cookie I’ve eaten. but in this case, I think my version is better. A bit presumptuous perhaps. But accurate if my fellow cookie monsters are any guide.
My experiments may not have been Kenji Lopez-Alt’s food lab level fabulous, but they did involve several batches of cookies. I melted the butter for one batch and used it at room temperature for another, chilled the dough for various time periods, and rolled different size cookie doughballs to see if size impacted their thickness.
The bottom line? You can make these Miso Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies several, if not many, different ways. Depending on your tastebuds and aesthetic sense, you can make them complicated or simple.
Here are the ingredients for the cookie base. More about the sesame seed coating later.
Miso Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookie Tips
- Melted or room temperature butter. The bottom line is that either works. My recipe uses room temperature butter, but you can melt yours. If you melt the butter, add the miso and tahini just after melting, and stir to incorporate the three ingredients. The goal is a smooth, thickened but pourable “sauce.”
- Keep the batter cold. This cookie works best if the batter is well chilled. Especially if working in a warm kitchen, before forming the cookie balls, you may need to refrigerate the batter. I refrigerated mine for about 15-30 minutes.
- Cookie Size. I’ve made them as big as ping pong or golf balls (using a 2 tablespoon measure) and also half that size. If you like your cookies bigger and a bit rounder in the middle, use the former size. But either works.
- Forming the cookies. Use your hands to roll the cookies into round balls and to coat them with sesame seeds. These are not a “drop by spoonful” type of cookie. As long as your start with clean hands and wash them periodically, you (and the cookies) will be fine.
- Use cold water. Dipping your hands in cold water helps in forming the dough balls and also when rolling them in the sesame seeds. Just be careful to shake off any extra over the water bowl. Do not let it drip into the batter or the seeds.
Why Use Chocolate Cut Into Chunks Instead of Chips?
You can use chips in this recipe, but I prefer chocolate cut from a bar into chunks – or a mix. Why? Because chips typically contain a stabilizer that helps them keep their shape. By contrast, bar chocolate is purer. Also, melted chips tend to have a thicker consistency than pure melted chocolate. In cookies, chips will retain their shape, while chopped chocolate will melt into delicious puddles and harden in odd shapes when cooled. I like the look and taste of chopped chocolate. Though I’ve been known to throw in a few odd chips lying around, I usually won’t use just chips in cookies such as these.
By the way, there is a lot of chocolate in these cookies. Check out the batter and chocolate ratio – almost as much chocolate by volume as batter.
And when the batter is mixed the chocolate is all over the cookie, not just popping up here and there.
What is Miso, Why Use It, and What Kind of Miso to Use in Cookies
- Miso is simply fermented soybeans. The best miso paste has only a few components: soybeans, salt, and a fermenting agent.
- Some brands are sold in the refrigerator section of a grocery, while others are unrefrigerated. In any event, once you open the package, you should refrigerate miso.
- Miso is full of umami. Although many cookies do not have umami, this one does – and you’ll immediately notice the difference.
- Miso comes in many shades and types, from sweet, light miso to dark, more intense varieties. For cookies and other sweets use light, smoother miso, rather than the darker or chunky variety.
- For more about miso, check out these articles from Epicurious and Bon Appetit.
What is Tahini and How to Use It
- Tahini is basically a paste made of white sesame seeds crushed with oil. It can sometimes include salt as well.
- It is dairy-free (vegan) and contains both protein and fiber.
- While many people enjoy it in savory dishes, such as hummus and other dips, tahini is also delicious in sweets such as halvah, brownies or blondies, babka, and of course, cookies.
Using Sesame Seeds to Cover the Cookies
Part of the allure of these cookies is the sesame seed covering. I liked the colorful look of a three sesame mix – white, white roasted, and black. But honestly, the taste would be the same if I had rolled them in either 2 colors of seeds or even just plain white sesame seeds.
Go with what you prefer. But for my money, don’t leave them out entirely.
Miso Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Cookies that are not too sweet, loaded with umami, and full of chocolate. What could be better?
- 2 cups all purpose white flour 8 & 1/2 oz/240 g
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature 4 oz/113 g
- 1 cup brown sugar, either light or dark or a mixture 7 & 1/2 oz/213 g
- 1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar 4 oz/100 g
- 1/4 cup white (light) miso 4 tablespoons/2 & 3/8 oz/68 g
- 1/4 cup tahini 4 tablespoons/2 & 1/4 oz/64 g
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 & 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate 10 oz/283 g
- 1/4 cup (or more) sesame seeds for rolling the cookies in
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugars together with a mixer until well combined and reasonably fluffy. Add the miso and tahini and mix again to combine. Finally, add the egg and vanilla and mix again.
On low speed, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/miso/tahini mixture just until no flour mixture shows. Than add the rest in 2 more batches, again, mixing on low speed, just until no flour mixture shows.
Finally, gently mix in the chopped chocolate. See note about refrigerating dough.
Using your hands, dipping them occasionally in cold water to keep dough from sticking, form small balls out of the batter. See note about size of cookies. Place the dough balls on a wax paper or parchment-lined cookie sheet. It doesn't matter if they are close together as this step is just to chill them in the refrigerator.
Chill dough balls for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Remove dough balls from refrigerator after chilling and preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C. Put the sesame seeds in a low, wide bowl and roll the dough balls in the seeds, pressing the seeds into each chilled ball, until they are well covered. Place the sesame seed-covered cookie balls on parchment lined cookie sheets at least 2-3 inches/5-7 & 1/2 cm apart. Bake one sheet at a time on middle rack of oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Kept tightly covered at room temperature, the cookies will last several days.
I experimented with different ways of combining the ingredients. If you have cold butter and don’t mind a flatter cookie, you can melt the butter and add the tahini and miso to it after melting the butter, then letting it cool to room temperature before adding that mixture to the sugars, egg, and vanilla. Once all those ingredients are mixed, you then add the flour mixture as indicated above and proceed.
Keep the dough chilled. If necessary, put it in the refrigerator after combining all the ingredients and before forming the dough balls. The dough should be cool when you form it into dough balls.
My first batch of cookies were thicker than the next 2 batches and I’m not sure why. I think it may have had to do with the heat in my kitchen when I made the 2nd and 3rd batches.