The Good Biscuit : A series

I am a regular, almost chronic, tea drinker. Almost by happy default, I have also become quite an avid fan of all things cookie-like and biscuitty, and am always on the lookout for the next perfect biscuit to try.

A lot of the biscuits I make are a celebration of butter, sugar and flour. While I’m normally a moderately healthy eater, biscuits are an area where I try not to skimp. They are often such small treats anyway that it’s best to consider them something special that you could have on a regular basis and not go too overboard with. If something is going to be consumed in 2 to 3 bites (or 4 – 5 nibbles), you’d definitely want first impressions to last. So bring on the good butter, muscovado sugar, pure vanilla beans, free range eggs and organic flour!

With that in mind, I thought I would create a new category that I plan to add to, as often as possible. The Good Biscuit will feature the biscuits that I have encountered in my kitchen travels, that I consider more than worthy as a companion to a comforting cup of tea (or coffee).

(A couple of things I’ve made in the past that also fit into this category include Belinda Jeffery’s Anzacs, these Mexican Wedding biscuits and OatCakeMan, which is really more of a biscuit to have with cheese, but I love them so much I like eating them on their own too!)

First up however, are these Sesame Coins from Alice Medrich’s latest book. Gorgeous, very tender biscuits that remind me a little of the Chinese peanut cookies I had as a child, every Chinese New Year. The surprise ingredient for me was the tahini paste, which I would never have thought to incorporate into sweet cookery. Tahini even turned up in Katrina Kanetani’s recipe for homemade Pocky. I suppose it makes sense, because it’s like a sesame version of peanut butter. Until now however, my jar of tahini had been confined to making hummus and miscellaneous other savoury concoctions. Happy days, when you find new uses for the ingredients in your cupboard! 🙂

Sesame Coins :
(makes 48 x 1 1/2 inch cookies; from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)

85g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
195g unsalted tahini (pure ground roasted sesame seeds)
60g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons natural or black sesame seeds

Whisk the flour and baking soda in a small bowl until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the tahini, butter, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the flour mixture and work with your hands until blended. The dough will be slightly crumbly, and you will have to push or squeeze it together.

Divide the dough in half – form it into 2 patties, and wrap the patties in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, or, preferably, overnight.

Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 162’C. Line the baking sheets with baking paper.

Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly. Roll it between two pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle the dough with half of the sesame seeds and roll over them gently to secure them to the dough. Cut as many rounds as possible, trying to minimize dough scraps, and transfer to the lined pans, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart. Repeat with the second dough patty. Press all of the scraps together, without overworking the dough, roll out, and cut additional cookies.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from back to front and top to bottom halfway through baking. Set the baking sheets on racks to cool completely.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for at least 1 month.


  1. rainbowbrown said,

    July 7, 2008 @ 5:10 am

    Those look very nice. This recipe always catches my eye when I flip through that book. They just might be bumped up a bit in my queue now.

  2. opnionatedchef said,

    March 9, 2012 @ 9:52 am

    you might want to explore doing this recipe with chinese toasted sesame paste rather than tahini. might make for a richer experience and a darker color.sprinkle with black sesame seeds or japanese white toasted ses sds.

    btw, sesame paste and chocolate go well together- (think marbled halva)
    I also have an old recipe for a tahini cake with a chocolate glaze……

    i wish i could find a recipe for those amazingly addictive chinese square peanut candies that have layers like shale and are made w/ maltose…. Ever seen one?
    thnx so much for your continued inspiration, starting today!

  3. opnionatedchef said,

    March 9, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    p.s. what about forming the cookie dough around a small ball ofchinese black sesame powder ? to make a surprise filling…….

  4. Y said,

    March 10, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

    opnionatedchef : Thanks for your comment. I have indeed made this recipe with other nut butters and also black sesame paste, sprinkled with sesame seeds. All of them have been equally delicious! Also a little surprised to see myself writing, roughly five years ago, that I couldn’t imagine tahini in desserts. In fact, I’ve used tahini a lot since then and am glad to see in retrospect that my interest was sparked by a simple cookie recipe.

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