I've never used up an entire jar of tahini.

At least a few times over the past 10 years, I've bought a jar of tahini to make homemade hummus, and then I make one batch and let the jar of sesame seed butter sit in my pantry until it's gathered enough dust that I throw it away.

Tahini, of course, is used for more than hummus, but I don't reach for it as often as I should for marinades, salad dressings or other dips, such as baba ganoush. Inspired by this tahini swirl brownie recipe in a recent issue of Milk Street Kitchen, I picked up a fresh jar and was excited to try my hand at a not-so-traditional spin on one of my favorite baked goods.

I've made peanut butter brownies before, and, as I suspected, the tahini adds a similar flavor and make for a slightly more savory sweet treat than your typical brownie recipe. 

Even though the recipe developer, Erika Bruce, describes this treat as brownies that have come of age, my kids enjoyed them, too. Just to cover my bases, though, I sprinkled these paper-thin gold stars that have been in my baking cupboard for at least a year.

They were just the galaxy-inspired touch that these brownies needed to be a hit at home and in the office.

Tahini Swirl Brownies

The duo of dark chocolate and cocoa powder gave these brownies depth, and the vanilla enhanced the flavor of both of them. The combination of tahini and sugar replicates the sweet sesame flavor of halvah candy but was easier to work with — and to find. Swirling the reserved tahini batter into the chocolate created a visual and textural contrast and let the tahini flavor shine. The best way to marble the brownies was to run the tip of a paring knife through the dollops of batter.

— Erika Bruce

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, plus more for pan

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup tahini

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with 2 pieces of foil with excess hanging over the edges on all sides. Lightly coat with butter.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and cocoa, whisking until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the tahini. Fold in the flour until just incorporated. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining tahini mixture and fold until fully combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Dollop the reserved tahini mixture over the top, then swirl the batters together with the tip of a paring knife. Bake until the edges are set but the center remains moist, 28 to 32 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Use the foil to lift the brownies from the pan. Cool on the rack for at least another 30 minutes before removing from foil. The longer the brownies cool, the more easily they cut. Cut into 2-inch squares.

— From Erika Bruce for Milk Street Kitchen