When I first started my writing career some 20-plus years ago, I had the fortune of staying at a women’s writers’ colony on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. I was given my own cabin in the woods, a sanctuary away from my regularly busy life.
The colony’s resident cook kept a cookie jar full of sweet snacks to fuel our scribbles. One of my favorites was a thin sesame cookie. Back home, I figured out how to make it. My version has black sesame seeds, which adds a layer of depth and color to this delicate and delicious cookie.
The buttery dough for these cookies is rolled into a log, chilled, and thinly sliced. Once baked, they get crisp. If you like your cookies crisper, bake them a minute or two longer. If you like a little bit of softness in the middle, reduce the cooking time by a minute or two.
The cookies are great for afternoon tea, to pack along on a picnic, or to take on a road trip. They are fancy enough to serve to company, but small enough that they are not too indulgent for an everyday snack.
Substitutions and Variations
For me, black sesame adds an Asian influence, and I think it makes the cookies look pretty. You can use regular sesame seeds—be sure to toast them first until golden for a nuttier flavor.
If you don’t have sesame seeds, you can use equal amounts of other seeds or nuts like:
- sunflower seeds
- pumpkin seeds
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- chopped almonds or pecans
How to Store Baked Sesame Crisp Cookies
Once baked, these cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature. They’ll also keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and up to six months frozen in a zip top bag.
Make the Dough Ahead; Bake When Ready
In the refrigerator: The beauty of these cookies is that they can be made and kept in the fridge for a day or two ahead of when you want to bake them. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. When ready, slice and bake.
In the freezer: They also freeze well. I make the dough, roll it into logs, and keep them in my freezer for up to six months. Whenever I have last-minute company, I simply slice and bake the cookies. There is no need to fully thaw them before slicing.
If You Love Thin and Crisp Cookies
- Oatmeal Lace Cookies
- Benne Wafers
- Chocolate Florentine Cookies
- Gingersnap Cookies
- Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sesame Crisp Cookies
This is a simple recipe to follow, but you’ll need to budget at least 4 hours of time to chill the rolled dough in the refrigerator before slicing and baking.
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (55g) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (170g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup black and/or toasted white sesame seeds
Cream the butter and sugars:
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon mix the butter and both sugars until combined and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix just until combined.
Add the dry ingredients:
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into butter mixture, and mix until combined. Stir in the sesame seeds until fully distributed.
Form and chill dough:
Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll each into a log, 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about 8 inches long. Wrap each log with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight (8 to 10 hours total).
Preheat oven when ready to bake:
Adjust two oven racks onto the middle and top of the oven, and set it to 325°F. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Slice the dough:
Unwrap and using a chef’s knife, cut the chilled dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place them on the prepared sheet pans about 1/2 inch apart (the cookies will not spread much).
Bake the cookies:
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are lightly golden, rotating and turning the sheet pans halfway through. Cool them for 10 minutes on the sheet pan, and transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.