Pistachio Brown Butter & Halva Chocolate Chunk Cookies

MAKES: 12 large cookies

The thing that makes these cookies so special is the way they linger between the sweet and savory. They are loaded with finely ground pistachios, and studded with halva (a Middle Eastern sweetened sesame confectionary), and bound together by deeply nutty browned butter. If you’re a chocolate hater like me (not that I expect any of you are) you can leave out the chocolate chunks and you’ll still have an exceptional cookie in front of you.

Active Time: 40 Mins

Total Time: 1 hr, plus chilling



  • ¾ cup raw, shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 ounces halva (preferably pistachio flavored)
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (not chips)


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (5 ounces)


  • 1 egg

1. Pulse the pistachios:

  • Place ¾ cup raw, shelled pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until chopped, but not yet finely ground. Scoop out and set aside about 2-3 tablespoons of the chopped nuts (we’ll use those later on for sprinkling). Continue pulsing the remaining pistachios in long pulses until very finely ground, about 1 minute.

2. Brown the butter:

  • Cut 10 tablespoons of butter into 1” pieces. Place in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring the pot every minute or so, until the butter has turned very foamy and bubbling, but not yet browned, about 6 minutes.
  • Quickly add the finely ground pistachios, and cook, stirring constantly, until they smell very nutty, and are golden brown, and the butter has browned as well, 2-3 minutes longer. Use a spoon to scoop some of them from the pot to assess their doneness–they should no longer be bright green and the butter around them should be deeply speckled with brown.
  • Using a rubber spatula, scrape the brown butter into a large bowl. Add 1 ice cube to the butter, and let the ice cube melt and the butter cool for 10 minutes (it will foam up again momentarily.)
  • Meanwhile, Cut 4 ounces dark chocolate into irregular ¼”-½” chunks.

3. Make the cookie dough:

  • To the cooled butter, add ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar, ⅓ cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until well combined and thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1 cup of flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt and stir well with a spatula or wooden spoon until combined and a sticky dough forms.
  • Add 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate, and 2 ounces of halva, crumbling it lightly with your fingers as you add it (you’ll reserve the remaining ounce each for topping the cookies.) Gently stir to combine the chocolate and halva into the dough. Cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours and ideally overnight. The longer you chill the dough, the deeper, and more complex the flavors of the cookies will be, so if you can plan ahead, do it. Either way is great!

4. Scoop, top and bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Using a 2 ounce ice cream scoop (or large spoon), scoop out twelve equal 2 ounce portions of dough, rolling them into rough ball shapes, and arrange spread apart amongst the cookie sheets.
  • Working one at a time, dip the tops of the cookies into the reserved chopped pistachios.
  • Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with a few more shards of chocolate chunks and halva, pressing lightly with your fingers to encourage it to adhere.
  • Bake, flipping and rotating the baking sheets after about 8 minutes, until the cookies are browned at the edges and no longer wet on top, about 12-14 minutes total.
  • While still warm, sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Once cool enough to handle, transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for longer lasting!

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