I don’t often match my food to my mood. In fact, when I’m feeling gloomy I typically eat large quantities of leafy greens, or put raspberries on each of my fingers and slurp them up while horizontal on the couch. However, when it comes to drinks, I like my beverage to match the ash-gray storm cloud positioned over my head. That’s when I turn to a black sesame latte. In a world of pastel lattes, this one soothes my dark side. Made with nutty black sesame paste—which is essentially just tahini ground from black sesame seeds—and warm nondairy milk, this drink is just the right amount of sweet thanks to sticky dates. 

Soak 2 pitted deglet noor dates (deget noor are the most widely sold dates, but 1 jumbo medjool date will also suffice here) in hot water for at least 10 minutes. When you’re finished soaking the dates, you won’t need the water for the recipe, but I don’t recommend tossing it down the drain. Use the date water to blend up a smoothie or to hydrate a pot of oatmeal. 

Back to the latte: Place 1 tablespoon black tahini, 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (of course, regular milk will work too), ½ teaspoon allspice, and the soaked dates in a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and the dates have completely broken up.

Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and heat over medium, whisking to prevent burning on the bottom and to whip up a bit of foam. 

If you’re in this for caffeine, you’ll want to brew a shot or two of espresso. Pour the coffee into the bottom of a mug. While this isn’t necessary, drinks in the vein of a dirty chai just sometimes get you where you need to go.

When the sesame mixture is hot enough, pour it into a mug, over the espresso if using. If you’d like, top it with a scoop of coconut whipped cream or a float of nondairy creamer and a shower of black sesame seeds. Sip, and let the warm latte heat your stomach. Sometimes being grumpy feels good.