Monday, January 18, 2010

The Beginning of a Long Friendship

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 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.

Tahini Cookies

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.


Jane said...

Oh tahini biscuits i am v impressed. I guess T is just sesame seed paste which the Chinese use a lot in marinade. There is a Neil Perry recipe I cook which involved marinating the minced meat (pork or chicken I think) in T then stir frying and it is served on noodles. very yummy. xoxo

Mlle Paradis said...

You might be on to something! I will be copying this recipe. So impressed that you "followed your bliss"!

Angie Muresan said...

Oh my!!! I must try making these myself! I love anything with honey in it.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

I'm going to admit to my foolishness but I have never tired tahini! Where have I been? I look forward to tying those tasty cookies. Thanks for passing the recipe along to us all.
Happy new week to you ~ deb

brismod said...

You are very inventive and obviously enamoured with all things tahina. I've a recipe for Lebanese Tahina Cake which is good. It marries the tahina with brown sugar, orange and yogurt. It also has pistachios, dates and sesame seeds. I must make it again after reading your post.

Anonymous said...

I love tahini! I'm so excited to try this recipe, I've never used it for a sweet dish.

Anonymous said...

i can't eat peanut butter at work because we run a peanut free kitchen- lately, i've taken to mixing tahini with a touch of maple syrup and putting it on ricecakes, i also enjoy it mixed with soy sauce, garlic and ginger and putting it on noodles and veggies- your cookies sound pretty awesome though- next project, here i come!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Jane - I clearly need to forge a closer relationship with the genius Mr. Perry...that sounds lovely!

Mlle Paradis - Well, it's not so hard to do in the's the rest of life that makes it difficult!

Angie - I know, honey is a true pleasure, isn't it?

Dumbwit Tellher - You must give it a try! I had only passing interactions until now and I can't believe all that I've been missing out on.

brismod - I demand your recipe immediately. Please.

ivorypomegranate - I hadn't before was a bit of a revelation if I'm honest.

Ella - no peanut butter!?! How awful. But how kind of you to be so considerate of allergic co-workers. Rice cakes do sound like a wonderful base to tahini, and the addition of maple syrup is quite inspired.

The Townhouselady said...


I can almost taste the biscuits just from your description. So cool.

Rob M. said...

I had a similar unhealthy obsession with mole sauce, although I can't say that mole cookies sound all that delicious.

Andy said...

Loved this post. How inventive! I'm definitely going to try the Tahini and toast. Don't have a strictly food blog, but if you'd like, check out my blog,

Anonymous said...


Laura [What I Like] said...

Rob - I'm sure there's a way to make them decent...mole has chocolate in it no?

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Please excuse the former deletion, Laura. Blame it on a long day and a generous helping of chardonnay. These cookies sound amazing. Peanut butter cookies are my absolute favorite, and I'm guessing these would be an over the top take on them.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

You are one determined woman...and it worked! Yay!

It is so much fun to play and create in the kitchen.

Laura in Paris said...

Be careful with the calories...

brismod said...

The recipe is from "Bake your cake and eat it too!" by Tamara Milstein. I also did a search and the exact recipe for Lebanese Tahina Cake is on the web here:
Let me know how you get on. Cheers Anita

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