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The Tahini Christmas Cookie

Makes 20 Cookies

Really, this has just become my favorite cookie. What makes it The Tahini Christmas Cookie is simply a matter of chance. I made tahini for the first time (not sure why that took so long for me to play with), was found by this recipe in Bon Appetit, and well it’s Christmas-time. I particularly enjoy naming this morsel of yum to bring together what for me remains a contradiction; celebrating Christmas in a Muslim country. But, as you’ll see in this delicious mix of sweetness and savory, there’s always room for some cultural adaptation and integration. When you make room for acceptance of things that don’t seemingly go together, you open your mind and if you’re doing it in the kitchen, you open your tastebuds, for new experiences.

Tahini is nothing more than a butter made of sesame seeds and sometimes oil. Sesame seeds are the magic ingredient in many Asian and Middle Eastern dishes and the magic in many ancient legends. In Assyrian legend, they drank a wine made of sesame seeds when the gods came together to create the world¹. In Hindu myth, there are stories of the seed’s symbol of immortality. Packed as it is with vitamins (E and B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron) it’s no wonder it has such a weighty history. (For specific health info on these vitamins and minerals, check out this link.)

The magic in these tiny seeds however resides in its 2 very unique substances, sesamin and sesamolin¹. Both are a type of lignan (lignans may remind you of flax seeds) and are said to have the ability to reduce cholesterol, high blood pressure and to aid the liver in detoxification². It’s a great source of unsaturated fat, a really great source of protein and quite amazing source of calcium. A nearly life-long vegetarian friend of mine attributes her very healthy, vegetarian pregnancies to tahini.

Does this mean you can OD on this cookie and be ok? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s definitely a feel good cookie. You can feel good about gifting it, eating it and communing with gods of legendary stories when making it.

I’m pretty sure if the Assyrians could have, they would have accompanied their wine with this cookie…at Christmas or otherwise.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

You’ll need:

*1/4 C + 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature (for a vegan version, substitute coconut oil in the same quantity)

*1/4 C powdered coconut sugar

*1/4 C tahini (if going with homemade, try this recipe)

*1/2 C spelt flour (for a gluten-free version, you can substitute 1/4 C of oat flour here and increase almond meal to a 1/2 C)

*1/4 C almond meal

*1/4 C brown rice flour

*1/4 C pine nuts, lightly toasted

*1/4 C sunflower seeds

*1/2 t sea salt

*1 t vanilla extract

*1/2 t ground cinnamon

*2 T black sesame seeds

*1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

To make:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 170°C

2. In a food processor, pulse the butter, sugar and tahini until creamy and smooth.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the last two and pulse until well incorporated and the dough becomes like a ball around the blade.

4. In a small bowl, combine black sesame seeds and shredded coconut.

5. Using a tablespoon, form dough into balls and roll into the black sesame seed and coconut mixture to coat evenly.

6. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, spreading about 1″ apart and flatten each cookie slightly. (I froze* my batter after rolling so didn’t flatten them out and was nevertheless as pleased as I was when I did flatten them a bit.)

7. Bake cookies for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Enjoy!

*This batter is a cinch to make and then freeze. I take it all the way to the last step before baking and then place in a freezer bag, label and freeze away. I wouldn’t let it go more than 2 months in the freezer. You could let each batch thaw out for 15-20 minutes before baking or add 5 minutes or so to baking time.

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