October 08, 2010

Sesame seed cookies with maple-tahini icing

Every month I think I'm going to enter something in the Sweet or Savory Kitchen Challenge, and every month goes by in a flash and I miss it. Not this month. This month features sesame seeds, and I've made sesame seed cookies with maple-tahini icing. The cookies feature a half cup of toasted sesame seeds which gives them the most wonderful flavor. If you like the taste of sesame, you'll love these.

Baking the cookies is a little tricky; the sweet spot just as the cookies turn golden and right before they burn, is what you're aiming for. You want them to be crisp and toasty, but not burned. Even if they get a little too dark, I can tell you from experience they'll still taste great. But they're best just before that point.

When making the icing, measure the tahini VERY carefully in level tablespoons because too much will overpower the maple syrup. I'm extremely careful about this. Also, don't skip the cooking of the maple syrup. This step is what enables the icing to harden after it's spread on the cookies.

The first step is to pan-toast the sesame seeds. I like to use a cast iron pan, but any heavy pan will do. Use a medium low heat and stir the seeds frequently. After a few minutes they'll start to turn golden and fragrant, and start to pop. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until they are evenly toasted. Taste a few to see if they taste roasted, and if they crunch easily.

Sesame seed cookies with maple-tahini icing
(makes 18 cookies)
Preheat oven to 325˚ F
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted (see story)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (Sucanot)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Toast the seeds as described in the story above.
  2. Beat the sugar and oil together with a spoon in a large bowl.
  3. Beat in the milk and vanilla.
  4. Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder in a small bowl.
  5. Add the flour mix to the sugar mix and combine well.
  6. Stir in the sesame seeds.
  7. Form into small balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a wet glass or with your wet finger tips. The cookies should be thin. (Don't get them too wet!)
  8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 325˚ F. Watch carefully so they turn golden but don't burn. (See story.)
  9. Cool on a rack.
Maple-tahini icing
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 LEVEL tablespoons raw tahini (see story)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • few grains os salt
  1. Place the 1/4 cup of maple syrup in a small pot. Cook over medium low heat until it starts to bubble. Cook and stir for 3 minutes, bubbling gently, then turn off the heat and quickly whisk in the 3 tablespoons of tahini, vanilla and salt. Whisk the mixture until it's perfectly smooth and a little glossy.
  2. Now work fast because the icing will harden quickly. Spread some icing on each cooled cookie. You should have just enough for 18 crispy cookies.
note: These cookies freeze well and taste great right from the freezer. They don't taste frozen, they taste crisp.


Feeling creative?
Tandoor Chef sent me the following press release:

In celebration of National Pizza Month, Tandoor Chef, the
leader in restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian cuisine, has launched its first annual “Naan Your Average Pizza Contest.”
From October 1 through October 30, 2010, consumers are encouraged to submit an original naan pizza recipe using any variety of Tandoor Chef’s naan bread for a chance to win free Tandoor Chef products from November 2010—February 2011.

Recipes can be entered online at TandoorChef.com/October. Tandoor Chef is encouraging pizza lovers nationwide to get creative in the kitchen with this unique Indian Italian fusion contest and hoping to inspire chefs next door with their newly launched Original Naan Pizza. Entries will be judged based on the pizza’s flavor, appeal and creative use of naan. One grand prize winner will be selected, as well as a second and third place winner. Tandoor Chef’s nationwide search for original naan-based pizza recipes will allow Tandoor Chef consumers, and all pizza lovers, to get creative with this new flavor sensation, which is taking the nation by storm. Tandoor Chef’s original naan pizza recently won a grand prize “Tasty” award from Cooking Light and naan pizza was also the winning dish for The Next Food Network Star, Aarti “Paarti” Sequeira.

The grand prize winner will have their recipe featured on Tandoor Chef’s website, Tandoorchef.com, and Tandoor Chef’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandoorChef and win free Tandoor Chef Naan Pizzas throughout the winter. One second place winner will receive two free Naan Pizzas each month throughout November—February and one third place winner will receive naan pizzas for one month.

To enter the contest, individuals can complete an entry form online at TandoorChef.com or simply send a post card or 3” x 5” index card with their name, address and contact information, along with their original recipe to “Tandoor Chef’s Naan Your Average Pizza Contest” c/o 6116 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43231. No purchase is necessary to participate.

Tandoor Chef, produced by Deep Foods, is a second-generation family owned and operated leading manufacturer of Indian cuisine. Tandoor Chef is committed to producing restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian food.

I reviewed Tandoor Chef products on this blog here, and here.


  1. These look fabulous, Andrea--I'm so glad you made them for the Challenge! I know what you mean about that "sweet spot" with the sesame seeds--I've over-toasted them a few times myself. I wish I could have some of these cookies! I bet the maple/tahini combo is wonderful. Thanks for submitting this! :D

  2. Those sound great! I'll admit, I suck at toasting sesame seeds. They're either not toasted enough or they are burnt. I've been trying to come up with something for the challenge too. I usually stick with savory, so maybe I'll try making something sweet this time.

  3. I know what you mean about that "sweet spot" when toasting nuts and seeds, esp. sesame seeds. What a delicious combination; I bet the maple and the tahini go really well together.

  4. Thanks, Ricki. It's not just the seeds that are tricky, the cookies, too, need care in baking. The maple-tahini icing comes from my days of following a macrobiotic diet.

    You just have to keep tasting the seeds until they're done. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    I love maple-tahini but I rarely make it anymore. It's so easy and tastes really good, so I don't know why I never think of it.

  5. Ooohh!!! These look great, Andrea! Dietary restrictions prohibit me from eating your cookies (BOO!!), but I'm really looking forward to trying your frosting sometime! :)

  6. yumm, those cookies look like the perfect autumn treat.

  7. Megan,
    It was so sweet of you to comment on something you can't even eat! I hope you can at least try the icing.

    I'm a little more fond of these cookies than is good for me. I think I'm going to give some away and freeze the rest.

  8. How creative, Andrea! I will have to try these. Thanks for the heads up on the Tandoor Chef contest. Maybe I will give it a go! Bon Weekend, Aimee

  9. I love sesame! And especially toasted. These sound divine!

  10. Those cookies sound delicious- And I can easily imagine smearing that tahini frosting on just about everything, from cupcakes to toast. ;)

  11. Woah. That icing looks droolworthy! I really love sesame seeds in cookies. Such a good flavor and texture.

  12. Aimee,
    If you enter the contest, I hope you are a winner!

    I love sesame seeds, too but I always forget about using them in things like cakes and cookies. I especially like black sesame seeds used as garnish.

    I like to use the frosting on cupcakes, too, but a little thinner version. I wanted the cookie frosting to harden. I haven't tried it on toast, but what a great idea! Or waffles. I want some on waffles.

    Toasted sesame seeds really do add great flavor to food. I especially love sprinkling gomasio on food, and I might just go make some right now!

  13. Andrea, I say the same thing about Ricki's challenge every month too, lol! She keeps telling me I don't need a blog to enter, and I always mean to do it (I even made apple recipes last month, and then forgot to send them in), but then I don't for whatever reason. Thank you for the inspiration! Hopefully I will follow your lead and actually DO it this month :-) Your recipe looks great, and the icing sounds divine :-)

    I hope you are doing well and having a good weekend!


  14. Courtney,
    It's hard enough to make something, photograph it and write about it, let alone send it in. I completely understand, but I hope you do enter.

    The weekend went by way too fast for my taste, but tonight we're going to a fabulous restaurant to celebrate our anniversary one day early. (The restaurant is closed on Mondays.)

  15. These look great! They remind me of chinese sesame cookies but those don't have icing on them. Your icing sounds like it would be great for all sorts of yummy things. :-)

  16. Cookies!! Yum, yum, I have a problem with those little things - I eat too many of them! And yours look really good!

  17. Chow vegan,
    I've had, and love, Chinese almond cookies but have never had sesame. The icing is very adaptable. You can control the taste and texture by varying the cooking time and proportion of maple to sesame.

    I put them in the freezer to get them out of sight. They are not, however, out of mind. :)

  18. Happy Anniversary! I hope the dinner last night was good :-)


  19. I love the SOS Kitchen challenges! This is an awesome entry! The cookies sound perfect, and the maple-tahini icing is genius!

  20. Courtney,
    Thanks! I'll be posting about it.

    Thanks a lot. The cookies were pretty tasty, and the icing is a remnant from my macrobiotic days. I was frustrated that I didn't have any of the macro recipes here. They're all in Wisconsin, so I "winged it" :D

  21. Oh, these look fantastic. Out of curiosity have you tried them on the under 10 crowd?! :) I may make them for myself and forget about the young'un.

  22. These are fantastic. I just love this. I find these cookies perfect for the coming Halloween.

  23. BellWookie,
    I gave them to my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter and she gobbled them up. Can't say what a 10-year-old would do.

    I'm wondering if kids would like them. My granddaughter did but she likes anything you call a cookie!

  24. Mmmm... sesame. I wonder if there is a way to reduce the wheat - by using spelt or kamut flours, or even to make it gluten-free... hmm... *runs off to experiment*

  25. Those cookies look absolutely delicious! I'm out of maple syrup, and what a good excuse to go out and get some more! Also, pancake season is here, so another good excuse :)

  26. I am so intrigued by this recipe! Looks amazing!

  27. Ella,
    I think these cookies would adapt well to alternative flours. Spelt wouldn't be any problem at all. I think they'd be a good candidate for gluten-free, too.

    The cookies were much better than I was expecting. In fact we loved them. I stuck them into the freezer because they were too tasty to have around. They're pretty good frozen, too.

    I'd say these cookies are perfect for a sesame seed lover! Thanks for your comment.

  28. hi Andrea and Ella!

    I was wondering whether you guys did experiment with alternative flours. I was thinking that almond meal might work well or even semolina? (have never tried those on cookies but I thought they would compliment the tahini.) I am always left with unbaked cookies when I use non-wheat flours and alternative ingredients so I am a little scared. Those look lovely.


  29. Natassa,
    Spelt flour gives similar results to wheat, but might require extra flour. Semolina is made from durum wheat with the bran and germ removed. I've used semolina to make noodles, and as an add-in to bread, but I've never used it for cookies. There are lots of recipes for cookies made with almond flour or almond meal on the Internet, and you might want to experiment with some of those. Since this recipe already had 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, I didn't try to use any other alternative flours, but a gluten-free flour mix might work well.

  30. Hi Andrea, I made these and we all loved them. I took them to a party and gave some to the neighbors, even. I changed them up a bit - take a look at my most recent blog post.

  31. Claire,
    Your changes look good! I just want to mention that the icing hardens really fast so the cookies travel well even with the topping.

  32. thank you for the advice Andrea! your photography is amazing too.


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