Friday, April 26, 2013

Tahini Cookies

These are from Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook, and have not been adapted very much. I love this cookbook, I don't own it, but I've photographed it's pages because I know someone who does. Every recipe I have ever made from it is heavenly, and these little cookies are no exception. Tahini is a delightful toasted sesame paste, similar to peanut butter but a bit thinner, and is available in most grocery stores. This recipe calls for light tahini paste, but I had regular tahini, so I used that and the cookies are delicious. Essentially, this is a tahini shortbread, and like all shortbreads it is contingent on it's butter. The better butter you use, the tastier your cookies will be. I used my own homemade butter and they turned out fantastic.

This recipe calls for a stand mixer, but I assure you if you don't have one you'll be fine with a fork and some patience and stamina. I didn't have a mixer until a year or two ago, and I made all sorts of cookies that called for one. 

I love butter. Like most cookie recipes, this one starts by combining butter and sugar.

Until just combined, so when it looks a bit like this.

This recipe calls for 5 tsp. heavy cream, I didn't have any and it was the only ingredient I didn't have, so I combined 3 tsp. milk and 2 tsp. Creme Fraiche both of which I did have, and it worked wonderfully. 

With the mixer on, add the cream, vanilla, and tahini, it'll blend together into a delicious batter resembling peanut butter and tasting even better.

I add my flower in 1/2 cup increments with the mixer off to avoid clouds of flour going everywhere.

Beat on a medium-low speed

It'll look crumbly like this for a long time, but I swear it starts to come together eventually.
Don't worry about over-mixing since there is not baking powder/soda.

I may or may not have impatiently helped mine come together a bit. 

Dump onto your counter and knead it a bit.

Roll into small balls

Flatten a bit with your fork.

Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cardamon would also be nice.

Bake until very light brown. I found they baked quicker than the recipe said, so keep an eye on them!

So delicious.

So simple, but so perfect.

2/3 cup superfine sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
scant 1/2 cup light tahini paste (I used regular)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons heavy cream (used 3 tsp milk, 2 tsp creme fraiche)
2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or cardamon!)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat on medium speed until just combined, about 1 minute.

2. With the machine running, add the tahini, vanilla and cream. Then add the flour and beat for another minute. The mixture will be crumbly for a long time but eventually it will start to come together. You can turn off the mixer and aid the dough in coming together with your hands too. Transfer to the counter and knead a few times until smooth.

3. Pinch off a small ball of dough (smaller than a ping pong ball, like a chocolate truffle), roll it between your hands into a ball, and put it on the prepared tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough, allowing 1 1/2 to 2 inches between cookies. Then use a fork to gently flatten each ball a bit. Sprinkle with cinnamon or cardamon, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until just barely starting to brown. Cool on a wire rack, and keep in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

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