Fig, Tahini and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not many of us saw it coming, certainly not me, way back in 1989 when La Brea Bakery opened, and I thought, “Who the heck is going to buy freshly baked bread in Los Angeles? That’ll never work…” And the rest, as they say, is history, as La Brea Bakery and Campanile restaurant, the adjacent restaurant in the same Spanish-style building (that Charlie Chaplin built), both became mega-hits.

Things change, and people move on. In the meanwhile, Los Angeles became a culinary destination, and Margarita Manzke and her husband Walter, rebooted the restaurant and the bakery for today, opening République, carrying on the tradition of making rustic breads, filling the showcases with Margarita’s fruit-topped brioche tartlets, croissants, Kouign aman, and a variety of other pastries.

One challenge for a professional baker is scaling your recipe that makes, say, 120 tartlets, down to a home kitchen-friendly eight, which Margarita did in Baking at République, Masterful Techniques and Recipes. The book teaches you professional techniques, as promised, then gives ways to turn the “master recipes” (like Pain au lait and Pâte sucrée) into a variety of desserts. In addition to French pastries, there are American favorites, like cookies, muffins, and brownies, because: 1) Not everyone wants to take on a multi-component baking challenge, and 2) Because they taste good.

I was particularly interested in her Fig-Tahini Cookies, because: 1) You don’t often see figs incorporated into cookies, and 2) I loved how tahini blew these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies out of the ballpark. I was also into them because she said she was inspired by the cookies at Mokonuts in Paris, which are certainly inspiration-worthy.

The cookies turned out well, but I couldn’t help thinking about adding something else to them. Nothing wrong with a big, chewy cookie with bits and bites of crackly figs in them, moistened with sesame paste, but thought maybe a shot of anise liqueur in them, or some crushed anise seeds, would take them in a more Middle Eastern direction.

And then I remembered chocolate, and grabbed my chocolate bin off the shelf to get ready to chop some for a second go at them. But I reached for the milk chocolate instead of the dark, thinking the dark chocolate might overwhelm the tidbits of figs, and started chopping up a bar of chocolat au lait to add to the dough.

I know some of you probably don’t like milk chocolate, or you want to say something less-than-complimentary about it. Milk chocolate does get a lot of flak from ‘serious’ chocolate people. If that’s how you feel, no problem, you can use dark chocolate. Don’t mind my forty years of baking experience ; )

(And don’t worry, I once got my comeuppance when I went to Salt Lake City to teach a class on candy making. I didn’t get the memo that the city was located at high-altitude, which meant any temperature readings were going to be off. And, of course, most candy depends on accurate temperatures to work. Fortunately the participants were well-versed in high-altitude adjustments, but I was as red-faced as one of the fruit-flavored lollypops that we made.)

Honestly, though, milk chocolate does have its place (such as, in these cookies), and in Europe milk chocolate must have at least 30% cocoa solids, unlike in the US where the minimum is a paltry 10%. So search out a bar of darker milk chocolate, using one whose percentage hovers closer to, or above, the European standards.

Even though I veered from the original recipe, I would take the author’s advice and search out dried figs that are moist. I bring back Black Mission figs from the US because they’re my favorite to snack on, but I can find other types of dried figs pretty easily in the supermarket or at shops that specialize in Middle Eastern foods.

I also dialed down the size. Still, these cookies are pretty hefty so you’re only allowed to eat one at a time. It will be hard. But I trust you’ll manage.

Fig, Tahini and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
19 cookies
Adapted from Baking at République by Margarita Manzke I made a number of modifications, including adding some whole-wheat flour, vanilla, and chocolate chips. I also made them a little smaller than they do at the bakery. If you want to skip the chocolate chips, you could add a few swipes of grated lemon or orange zest, to complement the figs. Or a sprinkle of coarsely ground anise seeds. If you leave them out, you'll get 15 to 16 cookies. Be sure to use dried figs that are moist, not hard and dried out. A head's up; the dough for these cookies should rest overnight in the refrigerator for the ingredients to meld properly. If you just can't wait, even letting them chill for several hours will help. When it's time to bake them, note that the cookies are baked with chilled dough, not room temperature.
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour, plus 1/3 cup (45g) whole wheat flour, or 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (packed), 120g light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120g) well-stirred tahini
1 large egg
1 cup (150g) chopped dried figs (hard stems removed), see headnote
1 cup (4 1/2oz, 130g) coarsely chopped milk chocolate
1/2 cup (70g) sesame seeds, plus more if needed
1. In a small bowl, whisk the flours (or flour), baking soda and salt together.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a bowl with a spoon or spatula, mix the butter, both sugars, and the vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined. Mix in the tahini, then the egg, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides to make sure everything is incorporated.
3. Stir in the flour mixture on low speed, then the figs and chocolate chips. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and portion cookies into 2-inch (5cm) rounds using either a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or two soup spoons, and place them on the baking sheet. For the nicest shaped cookies (after they're baked, in step #4), roll the mounds of cookie dough gently in your hands to smooth out any rough edges. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight.
4. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Put the sesame seeds in a small bowl and roll each mound of chilled cookies dough in the sesame seeds to coat them, placing them about 2-inches (5cm) apart on the prepared baking sheet as you go. (The cookies don't need to be perfectly coated with seeds; gaps are normal.) Press them down very lightly on the baking sheet, but don't flatten them, to avoid them rolling around when you walk it over to the oven. The cookies won't all fit on the baking sheet, so you'll have to bake them in two batches.
5. Bake the cookies on the center rack of the oven, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking, until they are browned around the edges and very lightly browned across the top, for 15 minutes. Don't overbake them. Remove the cookies from the oven and use a flat spatula or pancake turner to tap down the domed tops of the cookies so they're flat. (Don't squish them; a few gentle taps should do.) Let cool for a few minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack. Allow the baking sheet to cool completely, then bake the remaining cookies.

Storage: The unbaked dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to two months.

 

Fig, Tahini and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

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42 comments

  • Christos
    June 10, 2019 7:40pm

    Thank you for adding metric weights.

  • bob raymond
    June 10, 2019 7:48pm

    I love all of your recipes. These cookies sound great. I was wondering if fresh figs would work? It’s fig season here in Mississippi.

    • joan hersh
      June 11, 2019 2:18am

      i’m pretty sure fresh figs will be way too juicy to work in this recipe. i suggest just eat a fresh fig while eating the cookie!

  • Cyndy
    June 10, 2019 7:56pm

    David, two questions… what t# flour do you use for all-purpose flour in France? I’ve heard that t45 is the closest to American.

    Secondly, is there any brown sugar that tastes/acts like Domino’s light or dark? Specifically, the dark.

    These look good, and I’m intrigued by the idea of figs in cookies.

  • June 10, 2019 7:59pm
    David Lebovitz

    bob: They might be too moist and wet, as fresh figs get very syrupy when ripe. But if you give them a try, let us know how they work out!

    Cyndy: I use T65 organic. For more on French ingredients that I use for baking (and U.S. equivalents), check out my post, Ingredients for American Baking in Paris.

  • Charis Adrienne Terzen
    June 10, 2019 8:03pm

    The fig cookies sound wonderful and thank you for sharing the recipe. Can’t wait to try!

  • June 10, 2019 8:03pm

    These sound delicious! I made your other tahini chocolate chip cookies this weekend with chopped Valrhona 70% pieces I bought at one of your recommended shops in Paris while there this spring. They were a hit. I’ve not used figs much, and I do like them, but what do you think about cardamom with figs? Does this sound like a good combo?

  • Beth
    June 10, 2019 8:41pm

    These sound divine! Does this recipe use the more liquidy, Israeli-style tahini or the thicker, American-style? Thanks!

  • June 10, 2019 9:02pm
    David Lebovitz

    Douglas and PhilipB: Added!

    Beth: I used Lebanese tahini which is semi-liquid. It worked well so probably either would work just fine.

    • Beth
      June 10, 2019 9:19pm

      Perfect, that’s what I have on hand, thanks again!

  • Susan
    June 10, 2019 11:07pm

    I’d love to try these, but cookies that need to be refrigerated after shaping are a non-starter for me and my small, overfull refrigerator — nothing remotely resembling a sheet pan of shaped cookies is going to fit. Is there any reason (other than being a bit less pretty, maybe) not to make a log of dough and slice it into rounds once chilled?

    • witloof
      June 11, 2019 6:27am

      You can put all of the cookies close together on a small cookie sheet and chill them until they’re hard, then space them out on a bigger sheet to bake them. I do it all the time.

      • Susan
        June 12, 2019 11:53pm

        Thanks for the recommendation, but I don’t think that you quite understand the situation; a small cookie sheet will definitely not fit in my refrigerator! I think I’ll try the log method and see how it goes.

        • June 16, 2019 10:17am
          David Lebovitz

          I use one of these kinds of small baking sheets, but you could use a large dinner plate or something of similar size…if you have room! (I know some refrigerators are tight…)

  • Paula Scharf
    June 11, 2019 12:39am

    What a great flavor combination, will definitely make these! I have never been a fan of milk chocolate (the darker the better) until Denise Acabo insisted I try the milk from Bonnat. This is truly wonderful and unlike any other I’ve tied. Our local chocolate shop in DC carries Bonnat, so I suppose it’s available elsewhere in the states.

    • Sipagolda
      June 11, 2019 5:52am

      The Chocolate House?

      • Paula
        June 12, 2019 2:20pm

        Yes

  • Sarahb1313
    June 11, 2019 12:58am

    I am dying!! I get phenomenal dried fruits and nuts from an online vendor that sells the freshest ones of both. And i just ordered figs last night!!!
    The Tahini CC cookies have been such a crazy hit when I have made them, and this just raises the bar crazy!
    As you can see, I am so excited. Check back in a few days, I’ll tag you as always on Insta

    • Sipagolda
      June 11, 2019 5:51am

      Do tell the online supplier of good dried figs!

      • Sarahb1313
        June 18, 2019 6:58pm

        Oh, they were so very good!! My son came over and complained that I had ruined the cookies with dried fruit then tasted and said he retracted. And how he is my child and doesn’t like dried fruit, I don’t know.
        I used a combination of both turkish and mission figs.
        I went a little overboard and am knee deep in dried fruit and nuts (don’t order your favorite foods when hungry).
        I use nuts dot com. They are a great supplier with super fast delivery. I have been really happy with their products. They have such a good selection. They also sell that good almond paste (i can never remember the name but it’s in a can). I hope it’s ok that I put the website here DL?
        Anyway, cookies were so good.

  • Karen
    June 11, 2019 2:25am

    These look yummy and clever. I’m always looking for ways to use up the tahini since it comes in such large cans or jars and it hangs around in the fridge for ever until I’m tired of looking at it and pass it off to a friend who actually likes humus.

  • June 11, 2019 6:21am

    WOW this flavors combination sounds amazing – chocolate and tahini are great together, and the addition of figs sounds incredible. Can’t wait to try these cookies soon!

  • witloof
    June 11, 2019 6:31am

    I adore milk chocolate. I have a young friend who thought that chocolate meant Hershey Bars, so I bought him a bar of Scharffenberger milk chocolate {41%} and snapped a picture of his expression as he took his first bite. HAHAHAHA priceless. He claims I have ruined Hershey bars for him forever.

  • Pamela
    June 11, 2019 8:45am

    The idea of figs and tahini together along with milk chocolate is just so yummy. I’ll have to try this.

    Just a little note about the sesame seeds: sesame seeds should be toasted a little bit and then slightly crushed otherwise they pass through the body and are not digested it all. That would be too bad as they have a lot of calcium in them comparable to milk. So if you want to get the most out of your sesame seeds: toast them a little bit and then crush a bit them to break their little hulls! By the way, figs have a lot of calcium too!

  • Hanne
    June 11, 2019 10:43pm

    These are wonderful, and brilliant served alongside fresh fruit. I went a little off-piste and added a small amount of fleur de sel to the sesame seeds when rolling them, and mixed white and black sesame seeds because I had some of each.

  • Virginia
    June 12, 2019 4:16am

    This is a tremendous recipe. Who woulda thought that the figs became just a chewy, caramely, delightful texture and flavor to this?

    Made these this afternoon and we just tried them. Could be one of the best things, ever.

    Thank you!

  • Redhead8811
    June 13, 2019 4:10pm

    Made these yesterday and they were fantastic! Despite my best efforts, I could not find figs for some reason, but I had a package of dates in the pantry and substituted. So good!

  • June 13, 2019 5:53pm

    Sadly I can’t eat sesame :(. Do you think sunbutter would be a decent substitute for the tahini, or is there something else you’d recommend?

  • jan
    June 13, 2019 6:07pm

    The best milk chocolate I’ve found is a 48% version by Endangered Species. Does that make it a “dark” milk chocolate? In any case it’s the only milk chocolate I like because it’s not too sweet or too milky and it’s organic and free-trade, both very important in an industry famous for slave labor.

    Green and Black’s is good too but a little sweeter. It is annoying that milk chocolate makers ALWAYS over-sweeten. That’s why I choose the Endangered Species version.

  • Virginia
    June 13, 2019 6:49pm

    This is a tremendous recipe. Who woulda thought that the figs became just a chewy, caramely, delightful texture and flavor to this?

    Made these this afternoon and we just tried them. Could be one of the best things, ever.

    Thank you!

  • Jen
    June 13, 2019 10:22pm

    These sound amazing. I have Soom tahini, dried figs, and remarkable dark milk chocolate from Patric Chocolate.

    These are a must-bake this weekend!

  • June 14, 2019 4:16am

    I made these tonight with 33% milk chocolate (made by Chocolove), soft black figs, organic raw tahini, organic AP flour, coconut flour instead of the 1/3 c whole wheat flour, and a blend of 2/3 coconut sugar to 1/3 maple sugar and…..Can I just say that these are FREAKING FANTASTIC? People, make these now. David Lebovitz, you’re amazing. I’m done with just following you on the ‘net, going to buy your cookbooks STAT.

  • Mimi
    June 15, 2019 7:54am

    Hi — these are chilling now — i think when you say “For the nicest shaped cookies, after they’re BAKED, roll the mounds of cookie dough gently in your hands to smooth out any rough edges. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight.” you may mean after they’re SHAPED (with scooper or two spoons)? Kindly advise. Thanks.

    • Sarahb1313
      June 18, 2019 7:01pm

      He means if you want them to look pretty after cooking, then shape the raw dough by hand after scooping. Scoop, smooth, makes for clean edges once baked.

  • Jassica
    June 18, 2019 11:14am

    Hello, David
    Good recipe. It’s awesome that you put in grams in addition to the volume measurements. Things can be more or less dense when using cups and teaspoons. Weight measurements gets around that. But for the salt aspect of this recipe, you have two different amounts listed. It makes sense that Morton’s is denser than Diamond Crystal, but the mass should be the same. I used 4g, which was fine, but a bit on the high side. would be better I’d reckon. Keep up the good job. I hope you will keep on including weight measurements for all ingredients in future recipes.

  • LLBR
    June 18, 2019 8:34pm

    Usually I dismiss recipes with milk chocolate (I love dark) but I was so intrigued by this post and trust David’s guidance so much I went out and bought a bar and made these exactly as written. Wow – this is one of the most interesting cookies I’ve ever baked. Delicious. Perfect recipe. Thank you, once again.

  • Anne L
    June 18, 2019 9:00pm

    Didn’t have figs so I used prunes. Excellent!

  • Beth
    June 19, 2019 5:25am

    Wonderful cookies! Everyone loved them, will definitely make these again.

  • Christine
    June 21, 2019 3:18am

    These are amazing and addictive. Thank you David!!

  • elizabeth cordes
    June 23, 2019 5:14pm

    chocolate and tahini must be on the rise; just spotted chocolate hummus at my local grocer …in our town of 900 in eastern North Carolina.

  • July 2, 2019 8:54pm

    These are very good. My boyfriend came home from the grocery store with dates instead of figs (grocery shopping here in Copenhagen is always a crapshoot — you can only buy onions by the kilo and God forbid you try to cook anything with an esoteric ingredient like tempeh or farro; also, either everything costs one zillion kroner or the goods are organized according to the whims of someone who had two too many Tuborgs last night, you can’t have both) and they were still great. Took closer to 12 minutes in my 4D hot air oven, which, much like the rest of Denmark, I haven’t quite figured out yet.

  • Chris
    July 8, 2019 2:27am

    These were “perfect” (said my partner). I really enjoyed the chewy center with a slightly crisp bottom, the contrast between the nutty and slightly salty sesame dough and the deep fruity sweetness from the figs. I think the milk chocolate works well here between the two other players.

    I used a domed TBSP to portion them and the size worked plenty well for me (though we got many more cookies out of it than the recipe implied.