Thursday, December 22, 2016

cocoa-tahini cookies with sesame crunch.

Since purchasing Dorie's Cookies back in November, I've already made 5 different recipes from it and have earmarked at least 25 others.   

I haven't fallen this hard for a cookbook in a long time.   

Dorie's Cookies is the kind of book that every baker should have in their arsenal.  It's interesting, reliable, and quite frankly delicious.  It feels as if you have a friend in your kitchen guiding you to try new things (both flavors and techniques).  It's a cookie bible and I see myself turning to it season after season, year after year.

The first cookie I made were these Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch.   They felt like a such a modern-rift on a classic chocolate cookie (I love updated versions of classics).  The final product is a delight.  Tender, nutty, and exciting.  The pop of the sesame crunch provides the perfect textural contrast to the chocolate cookie base.   It would make the perfect addition to any holiday cookie plate though I expect these to be year-round favorites in our house.   

Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch
Recipe from Dorie's Cookies

Makes about 24 cookies

For the Sesame Crunch

2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons water
1/4 cup (40 grams) hulled white sesame seeds

For the Cookies

3/4 cup (102 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons; 3 ounces; 85 grams) butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
1/4 cup (63 grams) tahini (stir very well before measuring)
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
1/3 cup (67 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup (170 grams) dark chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional but I recommend it)   

To Make the Crunch: Put a silicone baking mat on the counter near your stove or lightly butter the underside of a baking sheet.   Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the bottom of a small heavy skillet, drizzle over the water and place the pan over medium-high heat.   The sugar will boil and then, after 3-5 minutes, will start to change color. If during this time the sugar bubbles up the sides of the pan, wash the sides down with a brush (silicone is great here) dipped in cold water.  When about one quarter of the sugar has changed color, gently stir it with s silicone spatula or wooden spoon until you've got a fairly even pale amber color (the color of beer) - a matter of seconds not minutes.  Pour in the sesame seeds and stir to coat them evenly with caramel.   Don't worry if you see a little smoke rising from the mixture, just keep stirring until the seeds are coated.  Turn the caramelized seeds out onto the silicone mat (or baking sheet) spread them as thin as possible and allow to cool.  Finely chop the caramelize seeds (you'll have a scant 1/2 cup of crunch).  To clean your skillet, fill it with water and bring the water to a boil - the caramel will melt.   

To Make the Cookies: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.   

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, tahini, both sugars and the salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and beat for a minute or so, then use a sturdy spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.   With the mixer off, add the flour mixture all at once and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are almost but not completely incorporated.  Pour in the chopped chocolate and sesame crunch and mix until the dry ingredients have disappeared.  Give the dough, which will look like frosting, a few finishing turns with the spatula.   

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out level portions of dough or use a tablespoon to get rounded spoonfuls, place the mounds of dough at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet - these are spreaders. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt if using.  

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. At 13 minutes the cookies will look unset; at 15 only the edges will be unset.  They'll both be fine, one just a little firmer then the other - your choice! (Note - I took mine out at the 13 minute mark.) Place the baking sheets on racks and let the cookies rest for 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to the racks to firm and cool. Repeat with any remaining dough.     

Storing - The dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 3 days.  The cookies will keep in a container at room temperature for about 4 days.   They'll get a little firmer and sandier, but their flavor and appeal won't diminish.  Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.   

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