Boy, does it feel good to be back in the kitchen, writing and cooking again. This blog has had a sleepy past few weeks, very much unlike its owner. From 22 August-1 September, while Wandering Spice was snoozing away, I was managing the greenroom for the Melbourne Writers Festival, the culmination of months of work bringing together 350+ local and international artists to share their extraordinary talents.
For two weeks, we discussed big ideas, shared hilarious and heartfelt stories, learned from the world’s best. I also made time to develop a few Festival crushes. Many, many crushes. We worked 15-hour days, ate weird fast food (and sometimes forgot to eat), enjoyed major successes and fits of hysterical laughter (lack of sleep, it’s a killer). This one time, I taxi’d the fabulous Tavi Gevinson to an event amidst a roaring pro-refugee rights rally. That was interesting. And fun (and captured below). All in all, it was my most exciting and challenging work to date, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a more capable, fun and authentic team to work with. And now I’m back here, with you, and with cookies.
I first found these cookies on a lovely Turkish cooking blog several weeks ago, and vowed to make them when I had a bit of free time post-Festival. I could imagine their texture, soft and melting in the mouth, thanks to the use of powdered sugar. They’re straightforward to prepare: mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, then mix together, form into balls and bake 10-15 minutes until set. They are very fragile just out of the oven, so let them cool completely on the baking sheet before storing. Then dust with icing sugar and cinnamon, and serve.
Though in the West tahini is associated with savory dishes, it is commonly used in sweet Middle Eastern dishes as a substitute for greasing the pan with butter. If you’re feeling inspired to incorporate tahini into your dessert repertoire, here are two of my favorite recipes to get you started:
- 2 cups plain/all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup mild-flavored oil (light olive, non-gmo canola, etc) plus 1-2 tbsp, reserved
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F. Line a cookie sheet with baking paper or a silicone mat.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat the powdered sugar, tahini and oil until smooth and evenly combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, and mix well (using your hands might be easiest). If the mixture doesn't stick together, drizzle in an extra tablespoon of oil until you can form small rounds.
- Using your hands, pinch 1 to 1 1/2-inch bits of dough at a time, and roll in between your palms to make balls. Continue until all dough is used.
- Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, about 15 minutes - the cookies are very fragile until cooled, so resist the urge to move them onto a cooling rack.
- When cooled, dust with powdered sugar and a dash of cinnamon, and serve with tea or coffee.
This recipe for melt-in-your-mouth tahini cookies is from Benim Hayal Defterim, http://www.elvanbasustaoglu.com.
Store these cookies in an airtight container up to two weeks.
Audio pairing: Cut Copy, “Glittering Clouds”