I stared at the pile of zucchinis on my kitchen counter, contemplating the many things I could make with them. Sure, I could cook something savory, but I was in the mood to bake something sweet. Classic zucchini bread with cinnamon and sugar or chocolate zucchini bread both sounded like delightful options, but I wanted to try something different. How could I give sweet zucchini loaves a Middle Eastern flair?
To help me think, I grabbed a sticky note and started jotting down possible ingredients and ideas. Tahini was one of the first items on the list. Made from crushed sesame seeds, it’s the base for dips like hommus, baba ganouj, and tahin oo seelan (date syrup and tahini – a combo I fondly like to call the PB&J of the Middle East). I had baked with tahini once before, but the sesame flavor I love was drowned out by the other ingredients. In the hopes of amping the sesame flavor, I added sesame oil to the list of ingredients. More of less satisfied with the combination of ingredients I had written down, I headed to the kitchen to see if my idea would product something worth eating.
Happily, these chocolate zucchini tahini swirl muffins turned out fantastic. They were moist, subtly sweet, with a pronounced sesame flavor. This batch made four dozen mini muffins, so, after a sampling a few (or five), I decided it was best to take the remaining muffins to work.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups shredded or chopped zucchini
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup) melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease mini muffin pans.
In a bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
In another bowl, beat the eggs. Add the honey, butter, and buttermilk. If your honey is stiff, you may want to heat it for a few seconds, so that it will mix better with the other ingredients.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Add zucchini. Blend ingredients together but don't overmix.
Scoop muffin batter into greased muffin pans. Don't overfill!
In a small bowl, mix together tahini, cardamom, sesame oil, and sugar. Spoon about 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of of the tahini mix on top of each muffin. Swirl the two mixtures together with a utensil.
Place muffin pans in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. After removing muffins from the oven, wait about 5 minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool.