Whether you lean to the sweet or savory side of life, a good cookie always delights. It can be any of the various hand-held confections–either crisp or soft, simple or complex. The word cookie comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning little cake. The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to the 7th-century Persia, one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. They can be dropped, pressed, filled, rolled or hand molded and come in many shapes and sizes. What constitutes perfection in this morsel? There is no one answer to that as tastes vary greatly. Many of us have strong attachments based on family recipes and experiences but we all agree, a good cookie can cure a lot of ills.
Since my palate gravitates to savory and I am not a baker by nature, I am always on the lookout for recipes that are less sweet and easy to make. These attributes are exactly what drew me to today’s feature. The other thing was the use of tahini in a sweet preparation. I have used it to make hummus and baba ghanoush as well as dressings for falafel and salads but never in a cookie. Who knew? If you are not familiar, tahini is a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds (think peanut butter but with sesame instead of peanuts). I always look for roasted as it has more depth of flavor. Used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking, it is readily available in the grocery ethnic section.
A few simple ingredients and one bowl clean up, here is how it goes down.
TAHINI COOKIES Makes about 2 doz.
Recipe from Bon Appetit, November 2014
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
1c all-purpose flour
½ c toasted pine nuts
1/3 c powdered sugar
½ t salt
1/3 c tahini (roasted)
¼ c unsalted butter, room temp.
2T turbinado sugar (raw sugar with coarse crystals)
- Place first six ingredients into a food processor and process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
- Mix the sesame seeds and turbinado sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the sesame seed sugar mixture.
- Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
I would say these are the perfect partner for a cup of afternoon tea or coffee. The turbinado sugar gives it a nice crunch and sweetness and the sesame adds a nutty dimension. The texture is soft like a shortbread and overall it is mildly sweet, satisfying and melt in your mouth. It reminded me a little of eating my grandmother’s biscotti. As a kid their lack of sweetness disappointed but when I learned to dip them in wine they became a whole other story. These would be equally good served with wine but I don’t recommend the dipping as they are too soft and would likely break apart.
These little cuties freeze well so you can keep a stash on hand for that unexpected visitor. They are perfect for spreading the love, one cookie at a time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I send love from my oven to yours. This is the perfect time of year to turn up the heat!
Before I close, I would like to dedicate this post to my aunt, Francis Raffetto Straitiff, who passed from this earth last night at the age of 91. The last living child of my paternal grandparents, Jenny and Fred Raffetto, she was feisty like her mother and quick to laugh. I can picture her at my grandparents table drinking a highball and telling stories. It is the end of an era. She will be greatly missed but the fond memories will live on. May she rest in peace.
With love, Jeanne