It’s been a while. An age in fact. Tired and a little uninspired is the best excuse that I can find. In the past couple of weeks however, I have on several occasions been inspired into a part of the kitchen that I usually ignore. Being the second best baker in my house doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a slouch but in general I can’t be bothered with fiddly measurements and oven temperatures. Sometimes, however, a combination of factors will lead me to pull out the measuring cups and bake something other than bread. Most recently, a wine tasting accompanied by some choice cheeses hosted by a dear friend for which dessert was requested, a growing love for techina and a new favourite cookbook (more in a later post I promise) came together in a perfect storm and the result was a cookie recipe that I just had to share.
Techina is basically peanut butter with toasted sesame seeds in place of the peanuts. At Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s famous shuk, there is a store where they grind it on the spot which is worth a visit:
It’s healthy, delicious and lends itself to a wide variety of uses, both savoury and sweet. In the past few years I have begun making sure that I always have some of the raw paste in the fridge or in the pantry. Recently, Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem has been replaced in my affections by Michael Solomonov’s “Zahav”. Solomonov, an award winning Israeli-American chef based in Philadelphia, makes no secret of his love affair with the humble sesame seed, starting his book with 50-odd pages showcasing the virtues and versatility of “the secret sauce”. It was here that his recipe for techina shortbread cookies caught my eye: 6 ingredients which you probably have in your store cupboard including both butter and techina in a recipe set out in 3 steps – what could possibly go wrong?
As it happens, the answer seems to be that you could eat so many of the finished product that your arteries might seize up. The wine tasters were enthusiastic and requested recipe details and subsequent batches have proved equally popular.
200 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup techina
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the techina until combined.
Combine the flour, salt and baking powder then add to the butter/sugar/techina mix until it’s all mixed together and looks like this:
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
Put tablespoon sized “pucks” of the mix onto parchment-lined baking sheets and bake in a 180 c (350 f) oven for 18 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with a glass of milk or glass or Turkish coffee.