Needham resident Hila Krikov grew up in Israel, where tahini was always on the table. “Every day, every meal is served with tahini,” says Krikov. “We even eat it straight from the jar.” The nutty, thick paste made from ground sesame seeds is a staple in the Middle East. But here, it’s most known as an ingredient in hummus. Ever since Krikov moved to the United States nine years ago for her husband’s work, she has set out to change this. “I’m on a mission to educate people about tahini,” she says. So this year, she launched her business Sweet Tahini and uses the rich sesame seed paste to bake bread and desserts. She sells her confections and spreads at farmers’ markets. Tahini replaces flour and adds a nutty nuance to beautifully dense loaves, while date molasses lends a subtle sweetness and deep bronze color ($8). The creamy paste inserts a buttery flavor to vanilla cookies made without butter ($7 for 10). It substitutes for heavy cream in chocolate truffles laced with roasted sesame and sunflower seeds ($8 for 10). Honey baklava is shaped in logs rather than triangles and filled with tahini, honey, carob syrup, and pistachios. It’s lighter than traditional baklava ($5 a piece). Krikov creates tahini spreads blended either with carob, cocoa, or pressed dates ($7 each for 6 ounces). They can stand in for peanut butter and jelly or Nutella. No doubt, you’ll be eating spoonfuls straight from the jar. Sweet Tahini products are available at Brookline, Roslindale, Needham, and Wayland farmers’ markets, or go to www.sweettahini.com. Check the website for market schedule.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND