Tahini Cookies


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.  IMG_8265

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 black sesame seeds (I used a combination of black and white)IMG_8298

2T turbinado sugar (raw sugar with coarse crystals)

  1. Place first six ingredients into a food processor and process until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
  2. Mix the sesame seeds and turbinado sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the sesame seed sugar mixture.
  4. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden brown.

IMG_8266I 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



8 responses to “Tahini Cookies

  1. Patti Bendoritis

    Sound very tasty Jeanne. I love tahini and can’t wait to be back home in spring, in my kitchen and trying these out 🙂 R.I.P. Francis. I love your memory of her with her highball. That was ‘the’ drink back then wasn’t it 🙂

  2. Frannie told me that when someone asked her how she lived so long, she said she thought it was drinking Manhattans and smoking! She was a great gql with a great sense of humor. I’ll miss our phone conversations. Jean Raffetto

  3. Elizabeth Palmer

    Just spontaneously decided to make these for a gathering I’m attending tonight… I had “regular”/not roasted tahini on hand, and no pine nuts, so decided to toast sesame seeds instead (and reduced the amount from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup) & stirred them intact into the dough. Rolled the cookies in the raw sugar and omitted the sesame seeds on the exterior. Quite good! I’ll try to make them again with the ingredients listed!

  4. Love it, Elizabeth!! I will have to try your interpretation. Glad they turned out for you. Pretty easy to make, huh? Thank you so much for sharing. Spring is officially here. Rejoice!

  5. Elizabeth Palmer

    My friends loved the Tahini cookies! One of them lived for a time in the Middle East, and said these reminded her of cookies she’d eaten in Jordan. Yes; simple and delicious.

    Ah, Spring! rejoice I shall! Can’t wait to get out in the garden again.
    Thanks for another great recipe, Jeanne.

  6. Wonderful! This makes me very happy. Thanks for sharing.

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