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Tahini Shortbread Cookies

December 17, 2010

Every Christmas, I crave shortbread. The classic Scottish, comes-in-the-red-plaid box shortbread. Buttery, moist, melts in your mouth shortbread. I used to make a home-made version of the store-bought stuff, but this holiday season, I decided to opt for a somewhat healthier alternative.

Traditional shortbread is butter, sugar, flour, and a little bit of salt. But mainly butter and sugar. Watch out, that stuff is dangerous.

My rendition, however, is light on the butter because it tahini-based. Tahini adds a nice, nutty flavor to the shortbread, and also adds moisture to the mix, requiring far less butter than the traditional stuff.  If you’re okay with the taste of tahini, I encourage you to try my version out.


-1 cup powdered sugar

-1 cup tahini (make sure you stir well before scooping it out of the container)

-1 stick + 2 tbsps butter, softened

-1.5 cups flour

-2 tsp salt

optional: sesame seats or almond slivers for garnish


-baking sheet(s)

-parchment paper

-electric mixer and mixing bowl


1. Place the butter, powdered sugar, tahini, and salt in a bowl. Beat for 2-3 minutes until thoroughly blended, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go.

2. Slowly add in the flour, and continue to beat the mixture as you go. You may need to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as you go. Toward the end of the mixing process, you may notice that the dough is a bunch of tiny little pieces, not held together at all. If this happens, don’t worry.

3. Knead the dough on a clean, flat surface and work the dough until it holds together. If not, again, don’t worry. Press the dough in toward the center, until all the stray pieces of dough stick to the main mound. If pieces break away, it’s okay.

4. Roll the dough into two logs. The length of your logs will depend on how big you want your cookies. I like mine small, so I make 12″ logs, about 1 to 1.25 inches thick, which makes for small, bite-size cookies. If you’re having trouble rolling the dough into logs because the dough won’t hold together, place the dough on parchment paper and roll the parchment paper around the logs, shaping the logs within the parchment paper.

5. Chill the logs for at least one hour. This will allow the dough to firm up and hold together better.

6. When ready to bake, remove the logs from the fridge and slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Feel free to garnish with almond slivers on top, or sesame seeds.

7. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Enjoy!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 17, 2010 9:41 pm

    Really nice recipe and pictures

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