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one-bowl tahini-chocolate chip cookies

After-school snacks are my way of showing my love for my children. I usually have a pan of brownies or cookies ready when they get home. If I time my baking just right, the house still holds the warm scents of brown sugar, butter, and chocolate mingling together in the air as my girls run inside. Shoes are kicked off, backpacks thrown down, voices rise and fall as everyone wants to be heard first. I pour glasses of milk and, just for fun, put cookies on chipped vintage plates. The cookies are so warm and gooey that they nearly melt in their little hands.

I don't remember where I first came across the inspiration for using tahini in a cookie recipe. I know that I've tweaked and fussed over this one until it's become, after dozens and dozens of bakes, the most perfect cookie I've ever tasted, with its chewy center and faintly crisp edges. Tahini - creamy sunflower seed paste - is one of those versatile ingredients that I've been cooking and baking with a lot lately; you can certainly substitute peanut butter if you don't have any tahini on hand. I love the subtle nutty flavor that the tahini lends to these cookies, as well as the way its richness pairs beautifully with the vanilla and brown sugar in the dough.

I used to never allow cookie dough to chill in the refrigerator overnight; I would always mix up the dough and bake it right away. I can say, however, that over the last few months of recipe testing, I've found that taking the time to chill the dough definitely makes a difference in the baked cookie. The flavors have a bit of time to relax and meld together, resulting in a softer, chewier cookie.

My favorite thing about this cookie is how quickly and easily it comes together. I used to spend a lot of time creaming the butter and sugar with the stand mixer, until one day I realized that I could mix up this batter in one bowl in about ten minutes. Really. Even if you soften your butter too much and it verges on being melted, it's okay. The dough is going to go in the fridge and it will all firm back up anyway. You cannot screw up this dough.

One Bowl Tahini-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 2 dozen large cookies (using a 2" ice cream scoop)
I've noticed that the consistency of tahini can vary widely from brand to brand, so be sure to stir it really well before measuring it out for this recipe. If you are unable to find unsalted tahini, that's okay, just reduce the amount of salt added to this recipe by about half. You can add more chocolate if you like; personally, I like just enough chocolate so that the buttery flavor of the cookie itself really shines.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsalted tahini, well stirred
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large cage-free eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
A scant 2/3 cup of milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

In a large glass bowl, heat the butter in the microwave on high heat for 30-40 seconds until very soft. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk in the tahini and both sugars until well combined.

Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is very smooth.

Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the bowl and stir with a spatula until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and fold in gently with the spatula. Take care not to overmix the dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (if you can't wait that long, three or four hours in the fridge is fine).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop dough balls onto the prepared sheet, only baking 6 at a time (they spread out quite a bit while baking). Bake 12-14 minutes until the cookies still look gooey in the middle but have started to form light golden brown edges.

Let the cookies sit on the pan to cool; they will finish cooking through but will retain their soft and chewy interiors. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, if they last that long....