Black Sesame Shortbread

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best christmas cookies: black sesame shortbread
Taylor Peden and Jen Munk/Cook This Book

Molly Baz’s new cookbook, Cook This Book, is equal parts attainable, delicious recipes and teaching moments to make you a better cook. A prime example of this is her black sesame shortbread, which might be the simplest cookie you’ll ever bake.

“Is it possible to create a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie without relying on an electric mixer and the whole butter-creaming thing that people seem to dread?” Baz writes. “I certainly didn’t think so. I was sorely mistake. This is the anti-cookie. The easiest cookie there is. There are six ingredients.”

As she explains, melting the butter eliminates the need for a stand mixer or electric beaters, and because confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, it lends a delicate texture to the shortbread without having to rely on the butter-creaming technique to achieve a tender crumb. Genius? Well, we already ate three…

Reprinted from Cook This Book. Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Taylor Peden and Jen Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.


10 tablespoons (142g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour

⅔ cup (75g) confectioners’ sugar

1½ teaspoons (4g) kosher salt

¼ cup (35g) black or white sesame seeds

⅓ cup (80g) tahini

Granulated sugar, for sprinkling


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, swirling occasionally, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Place the sesame seeds in a small resealable plastic bag, seal it and crush them by smashing them lightly with the side of a wine bottle or a rolling pin. (If you have a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, use it.) Add the crushed sesame seeds to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

4. Whisk the tahini into the cooled melted butter, then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring with a spatula until a dough comes together in a rough ball. Using your hands, knead the dough lightly a few times until no floury spots remain.

5. Transfer the ball of dough to the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to pat it into a ½-inch-thick, 8-by-8-inch square. Smooth the surface of the square with the bottom of a measuring cup so that it’s nice and flat. Use a fork to lightly prick the dough all over. Transfer the baking sheet to the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. If chilling overnight, lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap.

6. Once chilled, cut the shortbread into 16 equal 2-inch squares. Space them out evenly on the baking sheet. Bake the shortbread until lightly golden brown all over, 30 to 40 minutes. While still warm, lightly sprinkle granulated sugar over the surface of the dough—just enough to evenly coat each square. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet completely before serving

Note: Crushing the sesame seeds will release some of the oils and help flavor the dough; pricking the dough with a fork creates little pockets for the steam to escape so that the cookies bake evenly, yielding a very crisp, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Nutrition Facts
  • 166 calories

  • 11g fat

  • 15g carbs

  • 2g protein

  • 5g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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