Sunday, April 19, 2009

good for what ails you (and a great gift, too)

i'm having one of those
evenings
in which, 
i'm out of sorts.
i've had a perfectly nice
couple of days.
excellent in fact,
enjoying shabu shabu
and a beverly hills 90210
marathon
with jenn
(think: pilot),
then sushi with my family
and a cozy day today,
swapping stories
of our first memories
with my mom and sister
while hiding out
under blankets.

(my first memories, 
by the way,
involved:
crackers that i wasn't allowed
to eat thanks to a severe childhood
egg allergy,
the wooden spoon on a
vanilla-chocolate dixie cup,
and one i forgot to mention earlier,
shaking a baby food jar 
filled with cream,
to make butter.
all food, my mom 
pointed out.)

it was perfectly lovely .
and yet, 
when i got home tonight,
i wanted to
do nothing more
tonight than curl up
with
a blanket
and my sulky self.

thank goodness,
i remembered i hadn't
yet told you about these
sesame cookies that 
are long overdue for
a write-up.
they're cute, sweet, easy,
and i'll give them an 
extra point
for getting me off the couch.

i made a batch weeks ago,
when we were visiting
our friends,
colleen and christian,
in philadelphia.
the last time we stayed
with them,
i brought a basket
filled with tropical, 
hard-to-find-fruits -
a gift obviously brought on by
my growing fascination

this time, i thought about
it for 30 seconds 
and said,
spare them the drama,
bake cookies.
and i knew which ones.
after my last 
i had been left with
a second place contender,
these tahini-laced spheres.

--
come to think of it,
i was cranky the 
day that i made these.
i had to be at work early -
like six in the morning early -
when i left later that afternoon 
it was raining
so hard that i felt 
forced to sit in car
for 15 minutes before
daring to drive
and then when i finally
got home,
i realized i had
left my cell phone in the car
and i had
already removed my soaking
wet pants and sneakers.
i briefly considered 
waiting for the weather
to clear, grabbing a basket,
and picking
up a bunch of
but i took a rare nap,
watched some bad
daytime tv
and was good to go.
the next day, i was 
relieved to arrive
at their doorstep
sans a prickly pear.
--

these cookies, luckily,
don't take much convincing.
butter and eggs are creamed
together with sugar
and tahini,
then blended with flour.
once chilled,
you roll into balls,
dunk in sesame seeds
and bake until golden.
simple. 
and funk-minimizing.

they're relatives of a
peanut butter cookie,
for sure, but,
they have their
own unique creamy-crunchiness,
and
the hulled
seeds on the outside
provide a unique
coating.

if you've ever tasted
tahini on its own, 
you know
that its, well...rather,
um...it makes peanut
butter seem like a refreshing
glass of milk.
here, the butter and sugar
certainly change the
stick to the roof of 
your mouth factor,
but freshly baked,
i think they're still
a little...thick.
i was happily surprised
the next day,
when i discovered that
cooling, sitting
and settling
does wonders
to mellow the texture.

also, lucky for me tonight,
still cranky, yet
at least not mournful
that i've wasted away 
the hours,
is that while the recipe
says the cookies
are good for five days,
i've learned that
you can enjoy one,
three weeks
(yes, three - don't judge me)
later, 
texture and flavor, 
still in tact,
and perfect for a little
pick-me-up.

sesame seed cookies
adapted from gourmet magazine
make sure that you stir the tahini very, very well to help incorporate the oil. if you have to, dump it into a bowl to stir before measuring. one thing that i considered with these, was removing a couple tablespoons of granulated sugar from the body of the cookie and instead of tossing it with the sesame seeds before rolling. if you try it, let me know. also, the original recipe, created for the holidays, instructed to coat the cookies in luster dust. it was a little fancy for my needs. plus, while i'm willing to snack on these, i have issues with the warning posted with the original recipe: "luster dust is nontoxic. however, the fda recommends that it be used for decorative purposes only."

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup well-stirred tahini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sesame seeds, preferably hulled

in bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

in bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together butter and sugar 3 minutes, or until pale and fluffy. add tahini and vanilla extract; beat 30 seconds more, or until completely blended, pausing to scrape the bottom of the bowl. reduce speed to low; add flour mixture in 2 batches, mixing until a crumbly dough forms. transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk. chill dough 1 hour, or until firm.

arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. heat oven to 350˚f. line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

transfer sesame seeds to small bowl. 

roll dough into 1-inch balls. roll balls, one at a time, in seeds to coat; arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. bake 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and starting to crack, switching position of sheets halfway through. cool 10 minutes on pan; transfer to rack and cool completely.

1 comment:

doughgirl said...

I can testify that they were delicious! They also served double duty as a crunchy foil for chocolate pudding with peanut butter whipped cream.

Col

PS I'm glad you got your camera back!