Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tahini... it's not just for hummus

The problem with sweets, to me, is not only that they're lacking in umami, but from a nutritional standpoint, they're not much more than empty carbs which leave you hungry shortly thereafter.  And when you eat as often and in such quantities as I do, that can be a problem (even assuming that I like being pudgy, I cannot afford the time or expense to continually buy bigger clothes!).

Now, let's say you've just had a big cookout, and, as with every other cookout, there are people who fear those carbs so much that they eat hamburgers with a knife and fork, leaving you with lots of leftover hamburger buns.  What do you do?

In this kitchen, when life hands me lemons, I make lemonade.  And when life hands me bread, I make bread pudding.  The question is, when life hands me bread in the form of sesame seed buns, what am I supposed to do?  Do I painstakingly pick them off, one seed at a time?  I may be Chinese and I may be cheap labor (read: lowly government worker), but my time is certainly still more valuable than that.  Do I leave them on and hope no one notices the sesame seeds stuck in their teeth?  I'm a voracious eater who happens to love the texture of gristle and could chomp from end to end through a steak without giving a second thought to odd textures but I think even I would notice sesame seeds in a bread pudding.

The solution to both problems, the non-nutritious sweets and the leftover sesame seed buns, is what puts the um(ami) in hummus.  Tahini.  Just 2 tablespoons of the stuff will add 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 5% of your daily recommended intake of iron, and 15% of your daily recommended intake of calcium.

Rather than hiding the sesame seeds in a chocolate bread pudding, I would enhance them by adding tahini.  It's a very if-you-can't-beat 'em-join-'em approach to the problem. 

And it could be fatally flawed.  I checked The Flavor Bible. 
I looked under "chocolate" and nowhere in the exhaustive four-page entry on chocolate did sesame even show up.  Cross-reference under "sesame" -- two columns dedicated to black and white sesame seeds and chocolate was under neither one.

Well, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And so it was that this intrepid chef came to invent the dessert that protein-lovers could enjoy: Sesame chocolate bread pudding.
The result -- dessert with umami goodness.
Here's the recipe.

Sesame chocolate bread pudding

1/2 lb sesame seed buns, cubed
1 1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream, plus more for whipped cream
1/4 c tahini
3/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/8 c cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp sesame oil (not seasoned or toasted)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, grated
2 pinches toasted white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place the cubed bread in a 9"x6" baking dish.  In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and tahini.  In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.  Add the vanilla and sesame oil to the beaten eggs.  Combine the egg mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.

Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture.  Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in the dish.  Stir the mixture to make sure the bread is all coated.  Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the bread absorbs most of the milk mixture.  Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the mixture.  Bake pudding for 50 minutes or until set -- pudding is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serve the pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled with whipped cream.

1 comment:

  1. that looks soo delicious! Now i have to decide between this and an egg tahini salad recipe that i found for my lunch hard to chooose!!!


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