Italian Sesame Seed Cookies may be a Sicilian holiday treat, but I implore you to make them year-round. I can’t think of a better little something sweet to go with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee. The cookies are sturdy, not too sweet, and have that toasty umami imparted by the sesame seeds. The dough is super easy to work with. The sesame seeds adhere to the cookies brilliantly with the help of a quick dunk in milk before rolling in the seeds. I’m not too sure how many seeds you really need to coat a batch because I just pour some in a bowl. This is not the time to buy an expensive little container of sesame seeds in the spice aisle. Go for a big bag that you will likely find at the Middle Eastern or Asian grocery. These cultures appreciate sesame seeds and expand their usage way beyond sprinkling on bagels and buns. If you don’t enjoy a mild anise flavor, by all means, go with vanilla or almond extracts.
The cookies keep beautifully because of their dry crunchy texture. This recipe is a keeper. And while you’re at it. Don’t forget to make these Crescent Cookies.
- 1 cup butter or shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons anise flavoring (or vanilla or vanilla and almond extract)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- About 1/2 cup milk
- About 1 1/2 cups sesame seeds (toasted or untoasted)
Heat the oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Blend in the eggs, extract, and salt. Fold in 2 cups of the flour. Sprinkle with the leavening and fold in the last two cups of flour. Blend with the electric mixer just until uniform. You'll have a nice sturdy dough. Roll small handfuls of the dough into logs about the width of your index finger or thumb. Cut into logs about 1 1/2 or 2 inches long. Dip in the milk and roll in the sesame seeds. Place on cookie sheets. They can be pretty close together because they won't spread much. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes about 60 cookies.