Have you ever seen that light beige sesame paste, sitting unassumingly on the grocery store shelf, and wondered how you could put it to use in your own kitchen?
Perhaps you’ve bought some tahini to prepare homemade hummus, or chicken, or a dressing of some sort. But have you ever thought about incorporating it in a dessert?
Tahini is beginning to work its way into the mainstream American diet, primarily in savory applications. But it has thus far been significantly underrepresented in the sweets category in the U.S.
Its smooth, nutty flavor is a perfect complement to chocolate or bananas. I think of it as the sophisticated version of peanut butter. It’s a great substitution for peanut butter in creamy smoothies. Hailing from the Middle East, it also pairs nicely with honey and fresh figs as well.
In fact, in its place of origin, sweet uses of this flavorful ingredient are commonplace – with the most popular probably being sesame halvah, a sweet candy with a texture similar to fudge.
These popsicles are a healthy and super easy introduction to the wonderful world of sesame paste, and a great way to use up bananas that are a little too brown to eat on their own.
They are super filling and not too sweet, a great option for a delicious dessert, or a summertime breakfast on the go. Of course, popsicles are one of the many foods that keep you cool in the summer heat, too!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Roast
Start by preheating your oven to 375°F.
In the warmer months (i.e. prime fig and popsicle season) I try use my oven as little as possible. But sometimes it is just a necessity.
This is when a small countertop oven comes in handy – it will get the job done without heating up your entire house.
Trim the tops off your figs and slice them into 1/4-inch pieces. You want them to be small enough to fit into your molds, and to be eaten comfortably in a single bite. There’s nothing worse then trying to bite into a large piece of frozen fruit while the rest of your pop melts around it!
Place the prepared fruit on a baking sheet, drizzle it with honey, and sprinkle with salt. I prefer kosher or another variety of salt with larger crystals over fine, iodized table salt. It will enhance the flavor of your popsicles without being overbearing.
Roast for about 10 minutes, until the figs are soft and juicy and the honey is fragrant. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for about ten minutes.
Step 2 – Blend
You want to use super ripe bananas for this, since they’ll be soft and sweet.
I like to buy ones that are already just on the edge of super ripeness at the grocery store – my market usually sells them at a discount. Then I peel them, break them up into pieces, and freeze them.
This means that I’ve got super ripe fruit at the ready whenever the craving for banana bread strikes. Plus, they are super convenient for making smoothies (and, of course, these popsicles).
You can make your puree from frozen or fresh fruit – but if you already have frozen fruit on hand, starting with a cold puree means your popsicles will be ready to serve much more quickly.
Blend together the fruit, tahini, and milk (almond, soy, or coconut all make for great dairy-free freeze pops) until completely smooth.
Step 3 – Layer
Part of what makes these pops so tasty is that the figs are suspended throughout. This is achieved by layering them with the puree in your popsicle molds.
Place 1/3 of the figs in the base of each mold. Evenly distribute about 1/3 of your puree, add another 1/3 of the fruit, and continue layering in this fashion until the molds are full, ending with puree.
Tap the molds against the countertop lightly to remove any air pockets. Bubbles that form around the fruit will increase the likelihood that the pops will break when they’re unmolded, or as you eat them – and nobody wants that!
Step 4 – Freeze & Enjoy
Insert your popsicle sticks and freeze. If you opted for the fresh fruit version, this will take about 4 hours (depending on the size of your molds and temperature of your freezer). But if you started with frozen bananas, about two hours should be all it takes.
I love to eat these for breakfast when I’m rushing out the door. They’ve got plenty of protein from the sesame and milk, and the bananas and figs are a filling source of dietary fiber.
They also make a great dessert. Trust me – even the most sophisticated of guests, who think they might prefer a more elegant dessert (like our fig and ricotta tart!), won’t say no to a popsicle with roasted figs.
Give these a try today, and tell us in the comments about your favorite way to serve them!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.