Out of the Summer Rut and Into the Oven

August 25, 2014 § 2 Comments


It may not feel entirely appropriate to be talking about cookies on a day in August when you’re probably just doing your best to avoid any two parts of your body coming in contact with one another. I should apologize now for even suggesting you turn on the oven, but instead I ask you to make a sacrifice: less than an hour of kitchen heat in tribute to Alice Medrich, dessert goddess.


Medrich’s title as Sweet Genius (in every meaning of the term) is so well established that I hardly need to tell you that every one of her recipes turns out. My only excuse for not owning a single Medrich book is purely one of self-preservation. Faced with an entire book of desserts-that-work I would be powerless to resist eating my way through it in a matter of a few days. So when I stumbled upon her “Sesame Coins” from Pure Dessert one evening as I drooled over the archives of Sweet Amandine, that beautiful blog run by Jess Fechtor, I practically sprinted into the kitchen to make them. It was worth the exercise. The cookies are fragile and crumbly, in the melt-in-your-mouth way of a proper pecan sandie, and somehow luxuriously creamy at the end. Jess likens the effect to halvah, and I’d compare them to a shortbread with a stealthy satin finish.


Having now foisted batches on kindly friends at a pub, unassuming co-workers, and even on my not-too-adventurous family, I feel secure in their reception among even the most suspicious of takers. The take-away? No matter the audience, these Sesame Coins are simply a good idea. When you can’t bear another bite of summer cobbler, ice cream, or grilled stone fruit, and you’re ready to get out of the summer rut, (The overwhelming abundance!!!! The blinding colors of the produce!!!!) dig out that jar of tahini hiding in the depths of the fridge and settle into a batch of these beauties.

Sesame Coins
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert

2/3 cup flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup unsalted tahini
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a small bowl, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (except for the sesame seeds) until smooth. Add the flour mixture, and work it into the wet ingredients. The dough will feel like an oily, slightly crumbly pie dough to the touch.

Divide the dough in half and roll into two logs, each with a 1½-inch diameter. Wrap each log in plastic and chill for at least four hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove one dough log from the refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly. Unwrap the dough and cut “coins” of ¼-inch thickness (mine are usually a little oblong at best). Transfer the coins to the lined baking pan and sprinkle each with sesame seeds, then lightly press them into the dough with your fingertips.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are lightly brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets. While the first half of the batch is baking, repeat the above steps with the second log of chilled dough.



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§ 2 Responses to Out of the Summer Rut and Into the Oven

  • These cookies look delicious — I love sesame! Also, that drawing at the top of the page is just perfect; it is yours?

    It was a hot long weekend, but I baked every day. Totally worth every drop of sweat if you ask me. : )

  • I’m so glad you might try them! You are very kind about the little sketch, and I so admire your baking determination. It’s always a bit of an internal struggle for me in the summer months, but I’m always glad when I decide to bake!

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