Saturday, April 17, 2010
Beyond Peanut Butter: Healthy Tahini Treats
I LOVE peanut butter. I love it with a capital L. I love it with bananas, spread on toast, stirred into bowls of oatmeal, baked into cookies or my favourite, on a spoon. But recently, I've tried to expand my horizons and try different types of nut and seed butters. I've discovered the almost orgasmic sunflower seed butter with flax: spread on pumpernickel and topped with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, it makes a really tasty little snack. I've tried soy-nut butter with less success - great cooked with oatmeal, but not-so-great on its own. I gotten reacquainted with almond butter and I also bought tahini for the first time. It's not really a special kind of nut/seed butter. It's pretty popular and common for anyone who has ever made hummus, but personally I've never bought it. The one time I made hummus, I made so many substitutions that it was ruled out as hummus by my best friend. And I quote "It sounds like a lovely spread, but that's NOT hummus."
So, at the bulk barn the other day I bought a generous scoop of tahini. It tasted wonderful but intense on it's own -- probably not sandwich material, but I thought that it would bake really well into a cookie. As soon as a thought about sesame seeds and sweet treats, the taste of the infamous sesame snap flooded my mind. So wonderfully sesame-y but oh so tooth-achingly sweet. After that thought, my mind was made up: I would make some sesame-seed cookies sweetened only with honey, and I would try to make them healthy.
How did they turn out? It got a great review from Ms-That's-Not-Hummus, so what more can I ask for? It had a great, intense sesame flavour, and crumbly texture that goes great with a cup of coffee and an 11am strategic-planning conversation (don't ask!). At first I thought they were a little dry, but the texture grew on me. If you're looking for a dessert-y cookie, you'll be disappointed. But if you're hoping to bake up something wholesome and guilt-free to snack on with your afternoon cup of coffee or tea, these are the cookies for you. My favourite part? The black sesame seeds that are sprinkled on top! They give the cookies that something extra that would even make them suitable to serve your guests. Next time, I think I'll incorporate the black sesame seeds right into the cookie to give it an extra crunch.
The long and the short? Tahini = Cool! Now, should I try making hummus??
1/2 cup of tahini
4 tablespoons of honey (I used a delicious, local wildflower honey)
a tiny splash of almond extract
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of quick-cooking oats
1 1/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flower
black sesame seeds for sprinkling
1. In a large bowl, beat together the tahini, honey, egg and almond extract.
2. Add the oats and stir well
3. Add the baking soda and powder and stir. Add the flour a little at a time. Near your last 1/2 cup, the dough will get kinda sticky and hard to stir. Don't worry! That's normal. Keep stirring until everything is incorporated.
4. Form little balls with the dough and place on a cookie sheet. They won't spread out much, so you don't have to worry about leaving a lot of space in between each one. Flatten the balls with your fingers and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the sides of the cookies get nice and golden brown. Take a good whiff of them as they come out the oven. You'll smell that wonderful honey.
6. Enjoy with a coffee, tea and good conversation.