Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tahini Lime Cookies

I gotta say, I'm a huge sucker for unconventional flavor combinations. The best dessert I've ever had combined chocolate with thai basil* and was an absolute revelation. Tomato + basil? Simple. Refined. Chocolate + basil? Crazy. Or at least it was to my inexperienced palate.Crazy and delicious.

Imagine my delight when I discovered this recipe in my vegan cookie book. While not quite as exotic as chocolate-basil terrines, using tahini for cookies wasn't something I had seen before. Tahini (sesame paste) is an ingredient most of us have only encountered in hummus, another one of my favorite foods. I found my can at Whole Foods, but I'm sure a Middle Eastern market would be another good bet. Keep refrigerated and you'll be able to make batch after batch of these little guys. And trust me, you'll want to. I will neither confirm nor deny that these cookies disappeared in less than 24 hours in our two person household. Oops.

I modified the original recipe a bit to include some honey, a flavor that pairs well with both lime and sesame. These remind me of grown-up peanut butter cookies -- a little salty, a little sweet, and a little tart.

*Those of you who are in Boston, go to Ten Tables ASAP to experience its splendor.

Tahini Lime Cookies
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chanda Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

 1/2c non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2c sugar
1/4c honey
1/2c tahini, at room temperature
2-4 tablespoons of non-dairy milk
Grated zest from 2 limes (~ 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3c all-purpose flour
2/3c whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4c of black sesame seeds (white work as well, but aren't as pretty)

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat together shortening, sugar, and honey at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the tahini, 2 tablespoons of non-dairy milk, lime zest, and vanilla.  Then mix in 1/2 the flour, all the baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just incorporated. Mix in remaining flour. Dough should hold together at this point, but if not, add up to 2 additional tablespoons of the remaining non-dairy milk.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly. Place on cookie sheets and flatten a bit more. Sprinkle and lightly press sesame seeds into top.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. It took my oven less than 10 minutes to finish these little guys, but it had fluctuated between 325F and 400F in the 8 or so minutes the cookies were in there. Gotta love apartment living! As you can see, these cookies turn out beautifully, even with an oven that wants to burn them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Candied Clementine Peel

Candied Clementine Peel
 Gourmet January 2005

1 pound clementines (4 to 7)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups regular granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Vegetable oil for greasing rack
1 cup superfine granulated sugar

Halve clementines crosswise and juice them with a citrus juicer, reserving juice for another use. Discard any membranes still attached to peel, then cut each half into eighths.

Bring peel to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan three-fourths full of cold water with 1/2 teaspoon salt and boil, uncovered, 10 minutes, then drain and rinse peel. Repeat procedure with more water and salt, draining and rinsing peel again.

Bring regular sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add peel and gently simmer, uncovered, until tender and translucent and syrup is thickened, about 1 hour.

Transfer candied peel with a slotted spoon to a lightly oiled rack set in a shallow baking pan, spreading it out so pieces don't touch, and let drain 30 minutes.

Put superfine sugar in a small bowl and toss peel, a few pieces at a time, in sugar to coat, then transfer with a dry slotted spoon to a sheet of wax paper to dry slightly, about 1 hour.