Halva amplifies the sesame warmth of tahini in these (accidentally) vegan cookies

Zoë Komarin's halva-topped chocolate chip cookies are perfumed with cardamom.
(Portrait by Christina House / Los Angeles Times; cookie photo by Silvia Razgova / For The Times; food and prop styling by Leah Choi)

We asked several L.A.-area pastry chefs and cooks to contribute their favorite holiday cookies. Each is a simple, homestyle cookie that reflects the contributor’s memories of holidays past.

Zoë Komarin

Chef/Food Curator of Zoë Food Party

I grew up with Nestlé Tollhouse cookies and maybe a slice-and-bake sugar cookie for Hanukkah. So I love this cookie because it’s first and foremost a great chocolate chip cookie, but it has a really robust twist with cardamom and the halva. I can mostly attribute using those two ingredients to my palate absorbing their flavors while living in Israel.


While I’m not vegan, the restaurant/cafe I helped open in Tel Aviv had a lot of emphasis on vegan baked goods — I became drawn to them. Can I make the vegan version better than the original? In a lot of instances, the answer is yes. You don’t even miss the components of a nonvegan cookie.

This recipe is great because it’s easy for everyone to like. A lot of people find themselves in mixed-palate groups these days, so this cookie feels really accessible to everyone.

The cookie itself is fairly new to me, though — I don’t have a legacy with it. But it feels like a holiday because of cardamom. It’s definitely going into my repertoire, entering my mini-catalog of what I want to make this time of year.

— As told to Ben Mims

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies With Halva and Cardamom

Time 45 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
Yields Makes 32 cookies