I confessed to a new obsession with tahini last week, and I assure you that it is not a fleeting affair. After making some absolutely addictive tahini sauce with which to anoint any and all meats, vegetables and grains, I simply could not get that jar of sesame paste out of my mind.
I pored over my cookbooks, searching for a dish showcasing tahini that wasn't a sauce. Despite my obscenely extensive collection, a fair few of which are books devoted to Middle Eastern cooking, I could not find one recipe that fit the bill. I was momentarily stumped. Clearly I would have to forge a new path on my own.
I started small...at breakfast, my favorite meal now and forever. I took a page from my dad's book to begin. He brilliantly pairs toast and peanut butter in the early hours, so I replaced one nut butter (or seed butter?) for the other. But tahini alone seemed overly austere, so I paired it with marmalade for tiny bit of luxury.
But even that was perhaps not enough of a counterbalance? Ah yes, honey.
Honey was it. Perfection. The marmalade was not bad, but the honey and tahini combination was utterly delicious.
I had dipped my toe in, and was ready to take the plunge. Tahini had worked so well in place of peanut butter in one instance, I had to assume that it would work in another. So I set about making tahini cookies.
After much googling and page flipping, I had settled upon a proportion of tahini, butter, sugar and flour that I felt confident in. I was then free to play around with the flavorings. Orange appealed, but I came across some lovely Meyer lemons at Chelsea Market so could hardly resist those. And after some very dedicated dough-tasting, I deemed the cookies in need of some spice, so a bit of cinnamon was enlisted for duty. After a bit of stirring and rolling and baking, I ended up with a stash of light, nearly flakey, tahini cookies.
A successful experiment indeed.
yields 18 cookies
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (100 grams) tahini
7 tablespoons (100 grams) softened unsalted butter
zest of 1 Meyer lemon (or mix lemon and orange zest)
juice of 1/3 Meyer lemon (substitute orange or lemon or some combination)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer combine sugar, tahini, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth. Sift together remaining ingredients, and add to tahini mixture. Once combined, the mixture will look a bit crumbly.
Roll the dough into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. These cookies will spread out a bit, so leave some room between them.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the cookies are slightly browned at the edges. Let cool for a bit on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.