These cookies are kind of a twist between a peanut butter cookie and a butter pecan cookie. They have a delicate flavor and texture and they’re very easy to make. The unfortunate part is the amount of butter. The Chinese recipes call for lard which is much more common in their culture. There are some updated recipes with half butter and half lard, but I decided to go with an all-butter recipe because I don’t like using vegetable shortening. I started with this recipe from Sunset http://bit.ly/evUCvZ and based on a cooking blog out of Singapore http://bit.ly/hdOpqw I added a couple of things.
The ground almonds in the dough gives them a subtle flavor that is different from the recipes that use all almond extract. The almond butter was just something I wanted to try because I like peanut butter cookies and I thought it might be fun for folks that have peanut allergies to have a similar cookie. I backed down the amount of almond extract based on my testing and added the vanilla after reading the cooking blog from Singapore. Feel free to make changes to both as you desire for your taste.
Lastly on the issue of salted butter. It’s a huge baking deal to use unsalted butter. I run out of it often and end up substituting salted. In this recipe I used salted and adjust the recipe. If you use unsalted, taste the base butter and sugar mix before you add the egg and adjust your salt before you do anything else. It can be upwards of 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon off depending on your brand. (Yes, sometimes I taste it once everything is finished just to make sure – but I don’t advocate that practice.) I think you could also cut back on the sugar by 2-4 tablespoons (which is 1/8 – 1/4 cup). But they are not overly sweet with this recipe.
Southern Style Chinese Sesame Cookies
- 1 cup organic salted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1.15 oz sample package Justin’s Classic Almond Butter
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup blanched almonds – finely chopped in food processor
- 1/3 cup whole raw almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 beaten egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk or water
- Cream the butter and sugar. It will probably not dissolve completely but don’t worry about it (If you are using caster sugar/ superfine sugar, cut back the volume by 1/4 cup.)
- Add the egg and blend in thoroughly. add the vanilla and almond extracts along with the almond butter.
- Sift your flour and baking powder.
- Add this in thirds to your egg and sugar mixture, blending completely each time.
- Add in the finely chopped almonds at one time and blend.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or put it into a sealed container with some wax paper covering the top of the dough so it doesn’t dry out. Put it in the refrigerator to let the butter set back up for about an hour.
- Make up the egg wash from the egg yolk and milk/water and keep it cool.
- When you pull the dough out it will be very stiff and hard from the volume of butter. Use a spoon to pull off anywhere from 1-2 tablespoons of dough at a time and form even balls of the dough. I found it very useful to use vinyl gloves because of the amount of butter. You are trying to work quickly so the dough doesn’t warm up too much.
- Gently flatten each ball to a small circle. Don’t make them too thick as these don’t really spread if you work quickly and the addition of the almonds in the dough keep them pretty stiff.
- Using wax paper, spread the sesame seeds on the wax paper and press your cookies on one side only, into this mix to pick up the sees.
- Place your cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Lightly egg wash the tops and then press one of the whole almonds into the cookie. It will not seem to stick, but as the cookie cools after baking it stays in place.
- Bake at 325F for 12-20 minutes. The cook time will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies. The bottoms should be starting to lightly brown. These cookies have very little egg in them so you are mainly cooking butter and flour and they will tend to be crispy rather than chewy. The egg wash will help them achieve a more lovely color. In these pictures I forgot the egg wash and they still turned out great. They will burn quickly if you cook them too long because of the amount of butter. Don’t try to brown them.
- Cool on a rack and then place in airtight container for storage. I separate mine with layers of wax paper to keep the seeds and almonds in place.