Black sesame lace cookies

May 17, 2012 § 9 Comments

Last week I was in a bit of a baking rut, mostly like caused by over-indulgence of cookbook-buying: everything looked so appealing it seemed impossible to choose anything. Unfortunately, wallowing around flipping idly through cookbooks while poking the cats with their new toy doesn’t necessarily work with the calendar’s plans, which is to say that Mother’s Day was looming and I needed something sweet.

In the end I wound up back where I probably should’ve started, deep in the pages of Flour, my trusty baking book. The black sesame lace cookies beckoned, as I already had black sesame seeds left over from another recipe, flour and butter and sugar are always around, and fortuitously two oranges were lurking in the bottom of the produce bin.

I figured these cookies would be mom-approved: they are elegant (well, maybe a bit more elegant if you have completely flat cookie sheets; I do not but then I like their abstract-shape charm) and yet surprisingly easygoing, as they can be dessert on their own or they can go along amicably with the fresh fruit my mother wanted. They’re almost ridiculously easy to make too; I spent more time agonizing over what color the cats’ new toy should be (tangerine orange!) than mixing the ingredients and baking them combined. However, there is some effort-free chilling required for the dough, but this can work in our favor by making the dough  up to a week in advance and then baking batches of cookies as desired.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these cookies taste strongly of sesame seeds. I do think tracking down black sesame seeds is worth it; they add a bit of drama to the lacy crispness and they aren’t any more expensive than the taupe ones. The only change to the recipe I made was to add some orange zest in with the orange juice; it adds a bit of bright complexity to the sweetened nuttiness of the cookies.

Admittedly these are a little late for Mother’s Day, but I don’t think you need wait till next year to make them; they make any day lovelier after having baked them.

Black sesame lace cookies

Adapted from Flour

Makes two dozen cookies


  • Seven tablespoons (7/8 stick or 100 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • Seven tablespoons (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • One tablespoon orange zest (from about half an unwaxed orange)
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) fresh orange juice, from about one and a half oranges
  • Three tablespoons black sesame seeds

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is fluffy and pale yellow; this takes about two minutes in a machine and about three minutes by hand. Pour in the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat together for an additional minute, until fully blended together.

2. If using a machine or handheld mixer, reduce the speed to low; mix in the flour and orange zest until just combined. Pour in the juice and stir for about thirty seconds — the mixture may look quite loose and un-batter-like, but this is normal. Add in the sesame seeds and stir a few times.

3. Transfer the dough to an airtight container. The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least four hours, or for up to a week.

4. When you are ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line a very flat cookie sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper (it’s important that it’s really flat if you want individual, round cookies; I don’t mind if they run together and make an übercookie that can be broken into pretty shards either before or during serving so I just use my boring old cookie sheet).

5. Once the oven is at temperature, take the cookie dough from the refrigerator and pinch off or scoop rounded tablespoons of dough. Place each dough ball at least three inches from its neighbors as these cookies spread a lot when baking. I fit six cookies per sheet, in staggered rows.

6. Bake the cookies for fourteen to sixteen minutes if using parchment paper, or fifteen to seventeen minutes if using a silpat, or until the cookies are uniformly caramel-colored. (You may want to check a minute before that if using rimless cookie sheets.) The cookies should cool on their cookie sheet placed on a rack before consuming or being stored in an airtight container for up to three days. Enjoy on their own or served alongside ice cream, gelato, fresh fruit…

Note: If baking more than one tray at a time, do swap the cookies sheets halfway through the baking time, and let the sheets cool completely between batches (to expedite this, once the first batch is done, rinse the back of the cookie sheet with cold water, and then line with fresh parchment paper, or wash the Silpat). Keep the dough in the refrigerator until just before the cookies are to be baked.


Chang, Joanne, with Christie Matheson. “Black sesame lace cookies.” Flour. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010 (143-5).


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