Sunday, May 18, 2008

Crunchy Sesame Pistachio Cookies

I'm predicting a lot of cookies this week -- primarily because I'm working odd hours again and I am planning to make up several different doughs for quick baking later this week. I suppose I could just take the week off, but that's just not my style.

These cookies could have fallen into that category, but instead I baked them today since Chris has wanted them ever since we bought the book -- Saha, A Chef's Journey Through Lebanon and Syria. We have a thing for authentic cuisine and love trying new and different foods from around the world and our cook books are a reflection of that interest. Chris does the cooking from these books, and leaves most of the baking to me, which suits both of us just fine. This cookie recipe wasn't one that particularly interested me, but Chris thought it looked fantastic from day one. Being a good girlfriend, I made it for him. Being a bad girlfriend, it took me about 2 months to get around to it. :)

The base recipe is simple -- a very soft, sugar-cookie-like dough that you firm up in the refrigerator. Once the dough is cold, you roll it into marble-sized balls (the book didn't specify what kind of marbles they were basing this on...), flatten into 1/2 inch thick discs (I used the bottom of a glass dipped in flour and a spatula to get the sticky dough off the bottom of the glass), then you press one side of the disc into lightly toasted sesame seeds and the other side into chopped up pistachios.

The result is an incredibly soft cookie that is only slightly sweet with sesame seeds and pistachios adding flavor and a whole lot of texture. The books description said they were supposed to be baked for 10-12 minutes and end up crunchy -- I baked mine for 8 minutes and got very soft cookies. I think if I had baked them for longer I would have gotten something much closer to shortbread style cookie. *shrug* I like soft cookies... what can I say. Of course, part of me feels that the crunchy ones would have been more authentic, and if I make them again I will likely bake them for longer, but they are quite good soft too.

1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup pistachio nuts, cut into slivers
1/2 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Put the sugars and butter in a large bowl and cream together well. Mix in the vanilla extract and egg, followed by the flour. The dough softens easily, so transfer it to the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Take little pieces of the dough and roll them between the palms of your hands into small marble-sized balls. Flatten gently to form little discs, about 1/2 inch thick. Line up 2 dishes, one with the pistachio slivers and one with the sesame seeds. Press one side of the dough into the pistachios and press the other side into the sesame seeds. Carefully brush off any excess and place on the prepared baking sheets (the book didn't specify, but I baked my pistachio side down) allowing about 2 inches between them for spreading.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown (or for soft cookies, bake for 8 minutes). Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and leave to cool.


burkie said...


Amy said...

I actually just put together one of your banana bread recipes this morning (it's baking now..smells fantastic!). You've got a great blog going, and thanks for all the recipes!

burkie said...

good cookie! yes, a little soft, and would probably be better a little crunchier, but good flavor.

Pam said...

I add mahleb to my version of these cookies (also known as baraze). It gives them an additional nuttiness. Plus, mahleb is my favorite spice, and I think it should be used in more things ;)