Recipe by Sue Quinn, Author of Cocoa. You can learn more from Sue at the Spirit of Christmas where Sue will be hosting Christmas chocolate workshops. The Spirit of Christmas runs from 4-10 November at Olympia.

Vegan Chocolate and Tahini Spread

Vegan Chocolate and Tahini Spread

I adore good chocolate spread: it evokes memories of summer holidays with my family in Italy and France, when breakfast is gloriously leisurely and indulgent, so it seems strange that chocolate hazelnut spread was actually born out of scarcity. In the early 1800s, the Italian city of Turin was one of the chocolate capitals of Europe, famed for its chocolate houses and skilled chocolatiers. But during the naval blockades imposed by Napoleon during the Napoleonic wars, supplies of chocolate into Piedmont, the region of which Turin is capital, were severely restricted. The story goes that a chocolate maker called Michele Prochet came up with the idea to bulk out the little chocolate he had with local hazelnuts. This eventually prompted chocolate maker Pietro Ferrero (founder of the Ferrero company) to create a solid block of hazelnut chocolate called gianduja: in the 1940s, Italian mothers would cut a slice off and place it between slices of bread as a snack for their children. The company later developed a soft, spreadable version called Giandujot Supercrema, which was revamped in the 1960s and renamed to the infinitely more pronounceable Nutella.

My version of chocolate spread is made with tahini, a gloriously unctuous paste made from ground sesame seeds, and I love the savoury edge it imparts to chocolate. A note about tahini: this recipe works best with a new jar, because the stuff at the bottom of an opened, half-used one tends to be too thick to work well. Ideally, give a new jar a really good stir so the oil is mixed in and the tahini is lovely and runny. This recipe can –– indeed should –– be made to your own personal chocolate spread preferences, so add a little more tahini, sugar or cocoa to taste.


  • 200g / 7oz tahini
  • 80g / 2¾oz icing [confectioners’]
  • sugar, sifted
  • This is less a recipe and more of an assembly job. Place the tahini, icing sugar and cocoa powder in a medium mixing bowl. Stir by hand or use electric beaters until everything is combined. Slowly beat in enough of the sesame oil to create the consistency of chocolate spread you prefer.
  • The spread will keep well in a sealed jar for 2 weeks in the fridge
  • 50g / 1¾oz cocoa powder, sifted
  • good pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1–4 Tbsp sesame oil (not toasted), as needed

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