I’ve had this weird fascination with black sesame lately. Not regular sesame, just black sesame. I don’t know if I ate something somewhere at some point (I really can’t pinpoint a specific moment that sparked this fascination), or maybe I just heard about it and the idea was left to fester in my mind. Wherever it came from, it’s one of those ideas that just wouldn’t go away until acted upon. These cookies are the result.
On first bite you’ll taste nothing amiss. It’s a solid chocolate cookie, rich and chewy and studded with melty chocolate chips. But after your second bite you may wonder, why this cookie tastes so much more… shall we say, interesting, than all those other cookies. A depth of nuttiness, a hint of salt, and notes of exotic sesame linger long after the cookie has disappeared. In much the same way that my Chocolate Chipotle Cookies somewhat take you by surprise, these behave in much the same way.
My first go at this recipe was a standard chocolate chip recipe supplemented with black sesame powder. The consistency was off, my cookies spread too thin, and the flavors weren’t quite right either. I found that a chocolate cookie base better supported the black sesame flavor, and mellowed out the color too so it didn’t look so weird and gray (let’s face it, a gray cookie is by no means appetizing).
I’ll be the first to admit that the dough smells awfully like day-old Chinese take out. It might concern you as it did me the first time around. Don’t worry, the flavor and fragrance will mellow after baking and meld with the rich chocolate beautifully.
I looked into both powders and pastes for this recipe, and ultimately chose to use black sesame powder as I felt it would be easier to incorporate into a cookie base. There are black sesame pastes available, black tahini, essentially, although I have heard of an elusive toasted version that is widely used in Japanese and Chinese desserts. I couldn’t find such a substance, and thus opted for the powder. (If you can’t find black sesame powder, you can also make it yourself by just grinding black sesame seeds in a food processor or coffee/spice grinder.)
Black sesame paste is often used as a filling for sweets like mochi, and I considered stuffing these sesame-infused cookies with a sesame paste filling as well, but in the end decided the cookies were more than good enough on their own (and let’s face it, quicker and easier to make when you don’t have a stuffing to prepare and deal with).
If you’re curious how white and black sesame seeds are different, it’s pretty much the same as the difference between white vs brown rice: the white variety is hulled while the black is unmilled or unhulled, its hull still in tact. The black variety will have a richer, nuttier flavor along the lines of rich chocolate or coffee, making them perfectly suited for use in sweet dessert recipes.
Chocolate Black Sesame Cookies
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/4 cup black sesame powder or finely ground black sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
- black sesame seeds, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, black sesame powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and soy sauce and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Scoop 1 1/2-inch balls of dough with a medium cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons per cookie) and place on prepared cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between cookies to allow for spreading. If desired, sprinkle cookies with a pinch of black sesame seeds just before baking.
- Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until centers are just set. Remove from oven and let cool on pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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I previously left a two star review which reflected my response to the instructions, specifically “beat until soft and fluffy”. I like to follow the developers instructions carefully; their methodology should be respected. Even though “soft and fluffy” never happened, the cookies are delicious.
Re beating the butter and sugar, it never becomes “light and fluffy”. I have tried this recipe several times. The proportion of butter to sugar is wrong; it is usually one cup of sugar to one half stick of butter. Is there a revised version?
Double checked my notes and the sugar quantity is correct (1/2 cup or 1 full stick of butter to 1 1/2 cups total sugar). Did you have issues with the final cookies not turning out, or is your issue just the description of the butter/sugar mixture as ‘fluffy’? As long as you cream the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes as specified it should be just fine. It won’t be quite as fluffy as say a cake batter would, you just want to be sure the sugar and fat are thoroughly mixed.
Would I be able to omit the chocolate in this recipe? If so, would I need to add more black sesame powder or make any other changes to the other ingredients? Thank you!!
I think you’d be better off adapting a non-chocolate cookie recipe to add the sesame powder… removing the chocolate here would likely result in a drastically different result.
I opened up a jar of Japanese sesame paste last night to use with your black sesame banana bread recipe, which is amazing by the way! Now I have the rest of the jar to use. I already have enough black sesame stuffing for the your matcha cookies prepped and frozen in the freezer, but now moving onto this recipe. Do you think I can sub 1/4 cup (1:1 substitution) in this recipe with the paste instead of powder? Thanks for your awesome and beautifully photographed recipes!!
I haven’t tried this personally but I think it should work – I might reduce the butter by a tablespoon or two though to make up for the extra fat/oiliness in the sesame paste vs powder (otherwise the cookies might spread too much). The sesame paste will act like peanut butter, basically. If you try it, let me know how they turn out!
Do you have a recipe for black sesame cookies without chocolate? Or could I just leave out the cocoa powder and chocolate chips in this one?
The cocoa powder is an integral part of this recipe and it won’t work if you leave it out. You might have better luck adapting something like this: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2020/02/black-sesame-stuffed-matcha-sugar-cookies.html (just leave out the matcha, you could probably add a bit of ground up black sesame to the cookies themselves, or even roll them in sesame if you wanted).
Amazing! I’ve never cooked with black seasame seeds and it was delicious.
I made these this weekend and they were delicious. I sprinkled them with black Hawaiian sea salt before baking which added a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the chocolate. I had a big container of black sesame seeds and ground them up with a mortar and pestle. They have such a great nutty taste, almost like peanut butter. Thanks for the recipe.
I love black sea salt! I’m actually scheming a black sesame and black sea salt brownie… to be continued. Great minds? :)
I’ll definitely be trying these! I just got some black sesame powder and I love chocolate and sesame! Thank you!
Your cookies looks great but you published some innacurate info. Back sesame seeds are another variety of sesame seeds. Unhulled sesame seeds are not black they are varying shades of neutral.
Wow! These sound great! I love sesame. I’ve never used the powder before. I’ll look for it next time I’m at the Asian market.
Oooh they sound amazing! I only recently discovered black sesame seeds, but haven’t seen any powder around yet – will have to keep an eye out now I know it exists! Sounds like such a gorgeous, more grown up and exotic version of our favourite cookies :)
Lovely Cookies !! I’m just fond of Black Chocolate Sesame Cookies. It is one of my favourite. I am going to make this recipe and have it all. Thanks Lindsay for sharing this post :)
Black Sesame Powder! I am going shopping for it tomorrow! This sounds so exciting and I can just imagine the wonderful flavors. Thanks for sharing! :)
Love the idea of these cookies!!! I think the chocolate and black sesame would make for a compelling and sophisticated flavor combo. Awesome and creative work, girl!
Oh… How amazing these cookies must be! They do look amazing and delicious! Loved it!
This is so interesting, I’ve never had anything like it. I will have to give them a try really soon.
Mochi and buns stuffed with black sesame are some of my favorite snacks. Combining black sesame and chocolate in a cookie sounds rich and interesting indeed.
These look amazing! I love the idea of adding the black sesame for a savory note- sounds like these would taste rich and interesting.
i completely get your black sesame obsession (i had tang yuan with some friends a couple weeks ago, and the black sesame ones were gone instantly). chocolate and sesame go with everything, so why shouldn’t they be amazing together? (:
If only I could dive into the screen to shove my face with these ultra fudgy looking cookies!!!!!
Oh my this is soooo great especially since I recently bought some black sesame powder and was still thinking about what to do with it, thanks!!