Open (your mouth) says me!

Today, we move away from the gluten free toward the exotic (not that the two have to be mutually exclusive).  All year I’ve been trying to make my way back to Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook Jerusalem.  Their chocolate krantz cakes remain one of my favorite recipes for 2013.  So, I was happy to  finally find some space to tackle one of the many recipes I’ve dog eared.

This recipe is all about the sesame.  Tahini to be specific.  Until now, I’d always associated the seed paste with savory–most notably as a key ingredient in hummus.  However, after experimenting with black sesame in ice cream and macarons, I knew these little seeds had the ability to transition like champs.  And so, by transitive property, should their paste.

I found tahini in a larger, local grocery store in the international foods section (a sort of antiquated descriptor that always brings to my mind 1970s housewives and canned chow mein noodles).  The recipe calls for light tahini paste but I could only find regular.  As a note–double check the ingredients before purchasing.  I assumed tahini paste and tahini sauce were the same thing. Not so much.  Tahini sauce has garlic in it.

This is a sticky dough that is  finished unusually by dumping it out of the mixer and kneading it a few times until everything is just combined.

I’ll admit, I used a food scale to get uniformly-sized cookies.

I wasn’t following directions closely enough and added the cinnamon with the other dry ingredients rather than dusting each raw cookie with a sprinkle.  Oops.  So, I improvised the garnish and sprinkled the tops of each with a few sesame seeds.

These cookies have a very mild, slightly nutty taste with just a touch of spice and a texture that begs them to be enjoyed with a cup of tea.

I have a sneaking suspicion that these little goodies will make their way into my holiday baking this year.

As for open says me.  Or, open sesame rather.  I remember learning the origins of this phrase in a folklore course I took in college.  I can remember the quarter I took the class, where I sat and the professor’s pointy beard.  I also remember the lecture was used as a way of demonstrating how certain phrases are mythologized well before their supposed first appearance, in this case in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from One Thousand and One Nights.  What I can’t remember of course, is the original story.  So, I went with Popeye and completely bastardized the magical words, a-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga.

If you like this you might like these

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Black Sesame Macarons

Tahini Cookies

from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi


  • 2/3 C /130 g superfine sugar
  • 2/3 C/ 150 g unsalted butter at room temp.
  • scant 1/2 C/ 110 g light tahini paste (fully leaded worked well too)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 tsp / 25 ml heavy cream
  • 2 C  + 1 1/2 TBS / 270 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • sesame seeds to sprinkle on top if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 sheet pans with parchment.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter in a stand mixer or use hand mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.
  3. With the machine running, add-in tahini, vanilla and cream until combined.
  4. Add-in flour and mix for one-minute until the dough comes together.
  5. Transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth.
  6. Pinch-off 2/3 ounce / 20 g / 1 1/2 TBS dough and roll into a ball.  Use the back of a fork to push down lightly on top of the ball so that it flattens just slightly and takes on the tine marks.
  7. Place on lined baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sesame seeds.
  8. Continue with the remaining dough, spacing cookies about 1 1/4 inches apart (they won’t spread much).
  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown (watch the bottoms of the cookies).
  10. Cool before serving.  Will keep in sealed container for up to 10 days.

Put the almond in the cocoa powder and eat it all up

What?  That doesn’t work? Fine.

We continue our adventures with gluten free baking this week.

In general, my weekly trips to Trader Joes are precise,  surgical and leave little room for casual perusal.  Experience has taught me that unless I show up at a specific Trader Joes right as it opens on Sunday morning, the shopping experience will leave me wanting to poke someone’s eye out with one of those little toothpicks they use to serve the samples (see blog name for explanation).

Every once in a while (like once a year), I get lucky and it seems like the only people in the store are me and the friendly staff.  This happened recently and I actually paused to look around the nut butter section while picking up the sun butter for last week’s post.  This was probably a bad idea on my part because what did I spy with my little eye?  None other than Nutella’s American cousin: Cocoa Almond Spread.

For reason’s I’ve just explained, I’d never seen this concoction before and knew immediately that I had to make something with it (this has absolutely nothing to do with a strong desired to sit down with the jar and a spoon…how dare you suggest this).  The spread has the same consistency as almond butter (duh).  Thicker than nutella.  It’s also less sweet than the hazelnut version (though still sweet enough to reduce the sugar in the recipe).

As soon as I got home, I pulled my almond flour out of the freezer and got to work using the sun butter blossoms recipe as a blueprint.

The almond flour obviously behaved very differently than the corn flour and, with about a tablespoon and a half of dough, I go beautiful, perfectly round 3 1/2 inch cookies.  They had a nice texture reminiscent of their fancier kin, the macaron.

Seeing the finished versions cooling on their wire racks sent my brain to a singular place.

That’s right, these made the perfect ice cream sandwich cookies.  You could also spread a nice layer of the cocoa almond butter on the inside of a cookie, top it with another and you’d have yourself an excellent sandwich cookie.


Ray LaMontagne

Cocoa Almond Cookies

recipes makes about 18 (1 1/2 dozen, is easily doubled)


  • 1 C cocoa almond butter
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line 2-4 baking pans with parchment paper
  2. Using a standing or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and cocoa almond butter for two-to-three minutes.
  3. Beat-in the egg and vanilla until batter is smooth.
  4. By hand, sift-in flour and baking powder and then fold until the flour is just combined into the batter.
  5. Roll batter into balls using about 1 1/2 TBS (less if you want a smaller cookie).
  6. Set balls on lined baking sheets about three-inches apart.  Cookies will spread significantly (diameter will nearly triple).
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies appear set.
  8. Slide parchment off of cookie sheets and allow cookies to cool on the parchment.
  9. Ice cream optional!

Awesome Blossom

I always associate September with cookies.  I think it’s the back-to-school, pack you lunch, bring a treat relationship.  This blog has hosted its share of cookie recipes and I’m fairly certain I’ve covered the basics at this point.  Just check out the index of you don’t believe me.  So, I thought I’d do some experimenting, starting with a gluten and peanut-free take on the traditional peanut butter and jelly.

Nowadays, it seems most schools have declared themselves peanut-free zones.  Many more include tree-nuts on the contraband list.  But there is hope: sun butter.  If you haven’t tried it, the spread is hearty and nutty enough to stand on its own.  It also has the right fat-content to create a soft, and satisfying texture to baked-goods.

We’ve been experimenting with eliminating certain kinds of food in our household.  Turns out dairy is no friend to either TD or me.  I’ve also kicked out gluten during weekdays.  This isn’t because either of us have allergies.  Rather,  I’ve observed that most of what we consume with gluten is junk we shouldn’t be eating in the first place (I’m talking to you Cheez-Its).  Probably because we don’t have allergies, losing the gluten hasn’t been hard.  In fact, It’s been fun exploring new kinds of grains.

All of this is a long explanation for why I used cornmeal in this cookie recipe.  I love the texture cornmeal brings to cakes and so I thought I would try it with a cookie.  I realize that in some circles corn is a greater evil to nutrition than Loki is to the Avengers.  But, you pick your battles and I don’t claim to be a foodie activist.

The dough will be a little stiff.  If you can’t fold the batter with a spatula and some elbow grease, add in a tablespoon or two of juice or water.

Since  I had peanut butter and jelly on the brain, I gave each half a teaspoon of raspberry jam.  These would be almost as good without the little dab of fruit-though, I’d up the sugar to 1/2 C if you decide to go this direction.

The texture was soft and the flavors hearty with a little bright sweetness from the preserves.  Without telling him that I’d swapped-out his beloved peanut butter and flour, I fed a couple to TD.  He declared them tasty.  Maybe sometimes not knowing is half the battle.


Joe Jackson

Sunbutter Blossoms

makes about 18 2 inch cookies


  • 1 C sun butter (make sure to stir before measuring)
  • 1/3 C sugar plus more for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 C corn meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 TBS juice
  • jam of your choice (I used raspberry here but I’d love it if someone tried this recipe with Trader Joe’s fig butter)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a smallish bowl, whisk together corn meal and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together sugar and sun butter for 2 minutes.
  4. Beat-in egg and vanilla.
  5. With mixer setting on low, mix-in flour until just combined.  If the dough is too stiff to fold by hand, incorporate a tablespoon or two of juice.
  6. Pinch-off a generous tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and then roll in sugar.  Place on cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat process until all dough has been balled.
  8. Using your clean index finger, gently push a well into the center of each dough ball.
  9. Fill well with jam being careful to not overfill the well.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheets.