Variation on a TMH Favorite: Coconut Sesame Sugar Cookies

The idea for this was not my own.  I can’t give attribution because I don’t know who came up with it–or where I came across the idea, but creating a love triangle between the sugar cookie, coconut and sesame seemed like a really good idea when I saw it.

Sugar cookies, like love triangles, come in all shapes and sizes (well, except love triangles are only one shape…technically).  Some are soft.  Some are chewy.  Some are crunchy (I’m talking about the cookies now…not love triangles).

For this recipe, I decided to use my favorite no-fail cut-out cookie recipe as the base.  When it comes to texture, this version is buttery and tender but with enough structure to hold its shape.

I played with several finishes: coconut, coconut and sesame, coconut, sesame and sanding sugar.  Plain.

The best by far in my opinion was the sanding sugar version.

Coconut Sesame Sugar Cookies

makes about 30 thick cookies


  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, at room temp
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C finely ground and then toasted coconut (I used the food processor here.  I bet you could sub-in actual coconut flour, just make sure to toast it first)
  • 1 C toasted sesame seeds (I used regular because that’s what I had, but these would be really pretty with black sesame seeds or a combination)
  • Sanding sugar for topping


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  Whisk-in coconut.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy (I prefer to use a standing mixer for this recipe, but can be done with a hand mixer), about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla, beat another 2 minutes.
  4. Dump dry ingredients into butter and egg mixture, mix on low until well combined.  Add-in sesame seeds and mix until incorporated.
  5. Divide dough in half.  One at a time, roll out each half between two pieces of parchment paper.  Allow to chill in fridge for at least an hour, even better over night.
  6. When you are ready to bake, preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Pour sanding sugar into a shallow dish wide enough so that you drop your entire cut-out cookie into it face-down.
  8. Cut cookies into desired shapes.  Re-roll leftover dough and pop into the fridge to chill or cut-out.  I like to cut out all the dough and allow cut cookies to chill for another hour but you don’t need to.
  9. One by one, place each cut-out cookie face down into sanding sugar. Push gently to get sanding sugar to stick to the entire surface of the cut out.
  10. Bake two sheets at a time for 10-12 minutes (depending on how thickly you rolled-out the dough) or until the edges of the cookies are light gold.  Rotate baking sheets halfway through.
  11. Allow to cool on a rack.  These will freeze really well in double-bagged ziplocks.


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.