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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tahini Almond Cookies with Dates

I play around with tahini cookies quite a bit.  I mix and match the nut powders by switching out almond for hazelnut, chestnut, pine nut, or even coconut.  I play around with the flours by adjusting quantities of white, whole wheat, and sometimes buckwheat.  I mix and match the spices.. cinnamon, cardamom, pain d'epices.  My toppings, however, usually stay the same.  Some with black sesame and some with white sesame.  I do this because at any given moment I can have several different types of cookies in my cookie jar (or cookie tupperware) and the toppings make them easily recognizeable.  My peanut butter cookies usually always have chopped peanuts as a topping.  My chili cookies usually sprinkled with cayenne and sugar.  My buckwheat cookies are always accompanied by poppy seeds.
Why am I going on and on about this?
I don't know, but this time, I wanted to try dates.  They fit the theme.  Tahini.. middle east (well, kind of) home of desert candy known as dates.  This could also work with figs, which also fit the theme.
Mmm figs.
It also gives me a reason to repost the recipe I use most often for tahini.
Yield 52 cookies
140g all purpose flour
140g whole wheat flour (or just 1 cup of each)
70g (2.5oz) almond powder
100g (3.5oz) room temperature butter
150g (3/4 cup) cassonade or brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
200g (3/4 cup) tahini (I used Al Wadi)
black sesame
white sesame
split pitted dates
1.  Sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then add the almond powder and mix well with your hands so everything is evenly distributed.  My almond powder is moist so it clumps together if I don't get my hands in there.  Set aside.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together, then add the tahini and beat until smooth.  Mmm tahini.  You know if your tahini is top quality if it tastes good raw when you lick it off the spoon.  Make sure to stir it well before adding it.
3.  Get rid of your whip and switch to a wooden spoon.  Add the dry mixture little by little into the wet mixture until all incorporated.  The end result should be crumbly, but should come together if you pack it into a ball.  If your almond powder is not moist, you may need to add 1 Tbsp water or milk at this point just to help the dough come together.  Knead it well.
4.  Get your toppings ready.  I have a little saucer with white sesame, one with black, and a bowl of my split pitted dates.  Take a tablespoon sized amount of dough, make a ball with your hands, then dip it into one of the toppings and press it onto your cookie sheet to the shape you want.  Since there is no baking soda or egg in this recipe, the cookies will not expand or change shape while cooking.  For the dates, make sure you get enough dough on the inside of them before pressing them onto the cookie sheet.  This will avoid the dates falling off the cookie when they're done and thrown into the cookie jar.
5.  Bake for 175°C 350°F for about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove and let cool on a wire rack.

That.. is how to get a perfect tahini cookie!!
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