Open Sesame

The cookies are displayed on Spode's "Camilla" Copeland china, and the green fronds are those of Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata).

Spying a $2.00 bag of sesame seeds at the grocery store the other day (in the Indian food section) reminded me of a good recipe I have for sesame cookies. I grew up on Chicago’s west side, and the local Italian bakeries sold cookies just like this. These cookies must be made with butter–made with margarine they are stodgy and dull.

Sesame Seed Cookies

4 sticks (2 cups) butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, separated

2 tablespoons brandy, Cognac, sherry or cold coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 cups flour

1 cup sesame seeds

Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, brandy, and vanilla in a large bowl, and beat for about five minutes with an electric mixer.

Add the flour to make a soft dough. Roll dough into balls the size of small walnuts, and then roll balls in beaten egg white and then in sesame seeds to coat. To keep the mess to a minimum, I advise rolling all the balls at once, and proceeding from there.

Bake on greased baking sheets in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cookies puff up and the bottoms are golden.

I store bulk supplies such as sesame seeds in one of the many decorative jars that I save and re-use.  This particular jar had contained Polish pickled vegetables from Cracovia. I painted the jar with fronds of sesame plants, as well as with the name, but this is probably going above and beyond the call of duty. You could cut the name from the bag and paste to the jar, or simply label the jar with a Sharpie. Using a jar keeps the seeds airtight, and there is no messy bag to fall over in your pantry.

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