Thursday, January 24, 2008
Sugar High Fridays, Here I Come!
This post marks my first time participating in Sugar High Fridays! Invented by The Domestic Goddess, Sugar High Fridays are a fantastic way to celebrate the end of the week and the end of the month - by creating a themed dessert! CandyRecapper presented this month's challange: Any dessert that includes some form of store-bought candy.
I have no idea where thoughts come from sometimes. When I read CandyRecapper's description for this month's Sugar High Friday, and came to the part about "store-bought candy," the first image that popped into my mind was of the sesame candies that were my childhood favorites during visits to my uncle and grandmother's homes in Israel. Why this - a candy from another continant - was my first thought, instead of say, oh, I don't know, the bag of marshmellows in my pantry or something of the sort, I have no idea. I do know, though, that once the thought had taken hold, it was irreversable - I could bake sesame cookies, but with chunks of sesame candy instead of plain sesame seeds!
(Another delightful thing about sesame candy, by the way, is that it actually proves that "healthy candy" is not an oxymoron after all! I love it when the seemingly impossible becomes possible!)
Since the closest middle eastern grocery store that I know of is 10 hours away, I resigned myself to not finding the exact Israeli candy of my childhood and set about searching for an appropriate substitute. With a modicum of fuss I discovered these, at a tiny health food store near my office:
Voila! Exactly what I sought! I reserved judgement until I could sample them at home, but I wasn't dissapointed... They were just as I remembered: crunchy and creamy all at the same time, a slight nuttyness balanced by a hearty but subtle sweetness - similar to the halvah I adore but with a milder, softer flavor. The pureness of the ingredients really shines through in the flavor, too - these candies are made of simply: 1. sesame seeds 2. date syrup!
The cookie dough I whipped up tended towards the biscuit side of cookies, to make a nice, fluffy, generous-sized end product puffy enough to encompass the cruncy pieces of sesame candy in a cloud of softness. Indeed, that's just what happened... and the date syrup from the sesame candy melted into the cookie just a bit... and the result was chewey and creamy and light-as-air all at the same time...
(shhh... one of my favorite things about these cookies is that they're healthy enough to have for breakfast... ;-)
Another note - for my vegan friends! Since the sesame candies I used were labeled vegan, I figured I should most definitely post a vegan version of the recipe. To make these vegan, simply replace the egg whites with 1/4 cup soymilk, add 1/2 tsp baking soda, and make sure the light margerine you use is vegan. Yum!
Sweet Biscuits with Sesame Candy
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, only very lightly packed
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup light canola margerine
2 T water
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup chopped (approx. 1/8" chunks) sesame candy - the kind that's just a thin layer of sesame and date syrup,rice syrup, or molassas
~ Mix all the ingredients except for the sesame candy with an electric mixer set on low, until the dough is well blended. The dough will be very stiff, and will feel more like bread dough than cookie dough.
~ Using a sturdy wooden spoon, fold the sesame candy into the dough. You will have to stir firmly, because the dough is quite stiff. Make sure not to overwork the dough, though.
~ With damp hands (to prevent sticking), shape the dough, 2 T at at time, into ovals approximately 2" long.
~ Place the ovals on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes - until the dough is just set and bairly beginning to turn the palest golden brown around the very edges.
~ Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or cold, plain or drizzled with honey!