Who likes a shortbread? (Hint: me, me, me), who can eat 10 in a single sitting (you get my point right?) A shortbread cookies which has a Scottish roots is a simple butter cookie which is already a perfect bite, so why change something which is quintessentially flawless? Well just to add a more complex flavors and give it more of an adult taste. And just in case if you are wondering whether I ate the raw cookie dough then yes of course! It’s sublime and I almost always eat, no rather lick cake batters once I put the cake in oven.
Tahini is sesame seed butter just like other nut/seed butters; peanut, almond or sunflower seeds. But it is always called tahini or tahina in Israel. If you are not familiar with it than I am sure you know hummus and that nutty flavor comes from addition of tahini. It is pretty simple to make if you own a high-speed blender, just put roasted sesame seeds and blend. Or like me just get a jar from any middle eastern shop or online. Flavor profile is difficult to explain precisely, it’s somewhere between nutty and bitter but when added to cookies and paired with sugar it balances the sweetness beautifully.
This recipe comes from the book I am currently reading called Zahav by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. It’s an excellent read, full of stories and alluring photography. I have bookmarked few recipes to try. I did shake up few things by adding coarsely ground black pepper to add mild spiciness and topping it with slivered pistachio for crunch. These cookies are crumbly in texture with a buttery mouthfeel, yes it is mildly bitter but in a good way where you like to go for another bite. Just a word of caution, these would not be great for kids who are used to super sweet cookies. But if you like to explore new flavors and love tahini with your falafel, you should definitely try them. Make these cookies and some Turkish coffee, pick up a good book; sit back and enjoy!!
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Adapted from Zahav
Makes 30 cookies
- 240 grams/ 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1-2 teaspoons black pepper, coarsely ground (keep little aside for top)
- 200 grams/ 1 3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 200 grams/ 1 cup sugar
- 240 grams/ 1 cup tahini
- 25 grams/ 1/4 cup slivered pistachio or used chopped pistachio, optional
- In a bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper, whisk together and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed using paddle attachment or using handheld mixer, takes about 2-4 minutes. Add tahini and mix until just combine.
- Add the flour mixture and mix. Do not overmix as it will make cookies tough.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two baking sheet pan by lining with parchment or silpat. Divide the dough into 30 portions and make balls. Place 15 in each sheet pan. Press pistachio lightly over cookies and sprinkle with black pepper.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until just set and lightly brown around edges. Place pan on cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before eating.