I have a confession to make. I love cooking. I’m great with savoury. I’m OK with desserts. I’m so so with baking. I’m terrible with biscuits (cookies). If you look back through my recipe posts, you’ll find only one for biscuits and even that’s for very basic Quinoa Crackers. I’ve talked before about the best bakers being the ones who grew up with it. The ones who learned at their mother or grandmother’s knee. My mum is a great cook but she isn’t a baker. I am a product of my environment. The proof in the pudding
Still. I keep having a go. And this time, I’m glad I did. I made these deliciously short Tahini Cookies from Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’ and they turned out perfectly! Not just ‘near enough is good enough, lucky it’s only the two of us eating these, perfect’ but ‘wow, these are really good, good enough to give as gifts and impress others, perfect’. My version of perfect is that all the cookies are of a similar size, shape and even colour when they come out of the oven. My version of perfect is that they are baked evenly and are neither too soft nor too hard. My version of perfect is that they look like the picture in the book. Except there is no picture in the book so this makes them super perfect.
These cookies are incredibly easy to make and are similar in texture to shortbread though it’s the tahini rather than rice flour that gives them the almost grainy texture. Yes, there is a lot of butter but if you’re going to make biscuits, you might as well make decadent ones. These are great with a cup of strong coffee or you can crumble some over ice cream mixed with pistachio halva.
I’m a huge fan of sesame seeds, tahini, sesame oil, halva etc and for me, these could do with a little more tahini. Next batch I will be experimenting by adding another 25ml of tahini and perhaps halving the cream (with is minimal anyway so I question its inclusion). They could also benefit from sesame seeds pressed on top prior to baking.
(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi)
- 100g caster sugar
- 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 110g light tahini paste (I use Mayver’s)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 25ml thickened cream
- 270g plain flour
- 1tsp ground cinnamon or sumac
- Place sugar and butter in a bowl and mix for a minute or so until just combined but not aerated
- Add tahini, vanilla and cream and mix again. Add flour and continue to mix until a dough comes together
- Knead in bowl for a minute or so until the dough is smooth
- Pinch off 20g of the dough and roll in the palms of your hand to form a ball, place on lined baking tray. Do not overcrowd the tray as they will spread slightly.
- Continue to roll balls of dough and place on baking tray. Press each ball flat with the back of a fork and sprinkle with a little cinnamon or sumac.
- Place the tray/s in an oven preheated to 200c/180c fan and cook for approx 15 minutes or until golden. Watch towards the end as they will catch and can over brown very easily.
- Slide onto wire rack and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
Makes 30 – 35 biscuits
- The recipe by Ottolenghi makes the biscuits in a mixmaster but I have adapted it to make by hand, for those who do not have or can not be bothered with a mixmaster. This is a very easy recipe and requires no elbow grease whatsoever as the dough comes together readily and does not need kneading (as he also suggests).
- When I make these I sprinkle half with the topping and keep the other half plain, for a bit of variety. The sumac is my suggestion, in keeping with the Middle Eastern theme.