These delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cookies are based on Alla Staroseletskaya’s Tahini Cookies, from her food blog, Cooking with Yiddishe Mama. Instead of using just sugar, I opted for the halva taste and used sugar and honey. I would not replace all of the sugar with honey because that would mess with the texture – I learned in the Cordon Bleu baking textbook that white sugar beat into creamed butter is what makes a cookie light and fluffy. It works like this: soft butter left out for a few hours can be whipped to a lighter shade of cream; at this point, beating in granulated sugar will create little air pockets in the butter, which is central to the architecture of a crumbly cookie.
The key is not to pound/push/squeeze the flour into the butter mixture when mixing to avoid creating gluten which would otherwise make a tough cookie.
- 1, 1/2 cup flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup tahini
Sift together dry ingredients. In a large bowl and either using an electric mixer or very strong arms, cream butter until fluffy, which is indicated by it exhibiting a lighter shade of cream. Beat in sugar, and then honey, and then tahini. Stir in dry ingredients until JUST mixed. The trick, as mentioned, is not to activate the gluten process – gluten is created when dough made with wheat flour is kneaded. If you tend to be a heavy beater or are used to kneading, a safer way to combine the dry ingredients with the halva mixture is to either fold in the flour with a thin spatula, or cut in the flour with two butter knives. Go with quick and light strokes, always cutting at an angle to the bowl and never with the flat of the knife or spatula flush with the side of the bowl.
For every day snackery, you can spoon the dough onto a non-stick or greased cookie sheet like drop cookies. Bake at 350F for at least 8 minutes, depending on your oven temperament – these cookies are done when their extremities are toasted.
This dough can also be shaped by hand into a variety of things. Last halloween, I used this recipe for skulls and Van Gogh’s Scream face. You can shape the dough by first refrigerating it (covered) for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour. Spoon some dough into your palms, and roll into balls or logs or what have you. Beware that this dough, because it is “short” (lacking in gluten and binding agent like egg), may crack in the baking process and is delicate when baked. Experiment and have fun!