Author Notes: In certain circles these are considered an Israeli classic. Barely sweet, the cement-like tahini mysteriously lifted by citrusy cardamom, and with their eggless density, they became popular about ten years ago. They were a result of the culinary movement that announced an authentic and identifyable Israeli cuisine, in which traditional, local ingredients (in this case sesame paste, almonds and cardamom) were emplyed in creative and contemporary ways. The cookies have been semi-forgotten since then, but they are so simple, nutritious and unique that I feel they deserve a place at the table!
These cookies present a very particular, semi-crumbly, semi-creamy texture reminiscent of classic central european cookies made out of semolina. (For anyone interested in gastronomic philology, check out this Wikitidbit: The term semolina derives from the Italian word “semola” that derives from the ancient Latin simila, meaning “flour,” itself a borrowing from Greek ????????? (semidalis), “groats”. Though present in Latin and Greek, the word is not Indo-European in origin, but a loan word from the Semitic root smd – to grind into groats (Arabic: ????? sam?d, IPA: [sa?mi?d]). The root is attested in Arabic, Aramaic and Akkadian.)
But anyway: their texture is a delicate thing. I have tried making them with whole wheat flour, but have found they don’t really hold together and the flour overwhelms the balance of flavours. If anyone tries this with any other flour, please let me know!
And lastly: these cookies must be allowed to cool completely before moving them. Touch them while still warm and you will find yourself with tasty tahini crumbs… —nogaga
Serves: 35-40 cookies
about 2 3/4
cups self-raising flour (350 grams)
cup whole grain sesame paste
tablespoons butter (200 grams) room temperature
teaspoon vanilla essence
teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
about 40 blanched almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. You might start witha wooden spoon, but in the end you have to bring this batter together with your hands.
Once it has come together start forming it into medium-sized balls and place them about an inch apart from each other on a lined baking tray. It is a fairly sticky dough. Cool and wet your hands; press the balls down into thick disks and press a single almond into each.
- Bake for between 10 and 15 minutes, making sure you remove them from the oven before they begin to brown, but when they are fully solid. Your kitchen should smell of butter and cardamom at this point.
Allow to cool– completely!– before removing them from they baking trays.
Enjoy with a nice espresso!