Monday, December 12, 2011

Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies

Barbers have such a stressful job. One wrong snip, one misheard word, and the customer will be harbouring ill will every time she looks in the mirror for the next couple months. That’s a lot of negative karma going around.

In seventh grade, I experience a traumatic haircut. At just past the shoulders, my dark brown hair was neither straight nor wavy. I was attempting to grow it out in the hopes that length would convince my hair to commit to straightness. So I asked the barber for a trim, who misheard and ended up hacking off a good four inches of my hair. Tragic, yes, but at least my side-swept bangs were left intact.

Staring into the mirror that night, I vowed to grow my hair out until it was gloriously long and flouncy and straight. At twelve, I figured that it would take roughly three years to grow it out to an acceptable length. For the next four years, I went to a different barber. “Just a trim,” I’d say politely every time he asked how much hair I’d like to take off.

Three years came and went and I’m still growing my hair out. Somewhere along the lines, I had decided that I would donate my hair to charity, though I couldn't seem to bring myself to part with my mane last winter when the charity had come by our school to collect hair. I guess I figure that if I grow my hair out even longer, it won’t be quite as short when ten inches is shaved off.  

A couple weeks ago, I decided that I couldn’t deal with side bangs anymore. There were only two options: to let my bangs grow out long enough so that I could tuck them behind my ear or to just hack them off. I chose the latter; I’m somewhat impatient and immediate gratification definitely suits me more in this case. But seeing as drawing/cutting/walking in straight lines are not my forte—not to mention the fact that I had just nicked myself with a pair of scissors—I thought it would be best to leave it the professionals.

The next day, I went to the barber shop near my dad’s workplace and asked the lady for straight bangs. “Just bangs?” she asked, eyeing my waist-length hair. I answered yes; I was still in the hair-growing-out phase and my biannual haircut wasn’t due for another couple months. Snip, Snip, Snip, went her scissors and instantly, my bangs hung straight, covering my forehead like a thick curtain.
My mom retrieved her wallet from her purse and opened it to pay, but the barber merely shook her head. “I just cut her bangs,” she said. Touched, I decided that I would make her some Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies and send them to her with my dad when he went to work the next day.

These cookies also happen to be the ones that I sent to Nicola, Melissa, and Heather as a part of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay and Julie. I hope you guys enjoy these!

Click below for the recipe.

Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

  • 3/4 cup black or white sesame seeds, plus more for rolling
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350F.

Whirl 3/4 cup sesame seeds in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, sugar and salt. Pulse until combined. Add butter and vanilla through the feed tube while pulsing until dough comes together.

Scoop 1 tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Lightly dip tip of ball into remaining sesame seeds. Place on baking sheet, seed-side up, and gently flatten to 1/2-inch thick disc. Repeat with remaining dough and seeds.

Bake in centre of oven until edges of cookies are just starting to brown, 9 to 11 min. Let cookies cool on sheet for 1 min. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.


  1. These look lovely! I'll have to make these for my husband, who loves sesame!

  2. A growing the hair out, a couple of years ago I decided to go from mid length to bob and I'm still trying to grow it to where I want.

    Love the story! Keep in touch Kyleen :)

  3. I LOVED these cookies! They were not only delicious, but different too.

    I got my hair chopped off this summer and I almost cried over it. It's looking better these days - I got a better cut last time, though I still miss my long hair. There is literally nothing worse than getting a bad haircut (all actually serious things aside). It affects you every day!

  4. Ugh, I had a traumatic hair experience when I was in the first grade. My long, butt-length hair was cut to a god-awful bob with bangs! I cried... a lot. Solidarity!

    So I don't think I've ever had a sesame seed cookies before. Are they sweet and toasty tasting? Or mostly sweet? I gotta try these sometime. Thank you for sharing this neat recipe. :)

  5. The first part of your post, I'm ashamed to say I didn't understand at all... front bangs, side bangs... as a guy, is this something I should know about? Will people the world over think of me as less of a man if I can't talk bangs with the best of them? :(

    Well, I can enjoy the cookies at least - maybe I can get a bang in my mouth from the flavours in these :) The sesame seeds looks so pretty. It almost looks like a hamburger bun (but, like, in a delicious, sweet cookie way) :D

  6. My fringe needs doing and I know from experience never to let me loose on my hair or anyone else's! Cookies are excellent bribery though, especially when they're as good as that!

  7. I admire your guts...I've been toying with the idea of a hair change for months from it's current long state, but can't work up the nerve to cut it. Instead I dyed it dark brown (from my usually blond) for winter -- a 'permanent' change I could reverse should I hate it!

    Thank-you for the cookies -- wonderfully different! and sharing your story in your letter enclosed! I'm happy to have 'met' you through this cookie swap -- be sure to keep in touch! :)

  8. Some people said that these cookies were sweet, but even my mom, who tries to avoid excessive sugar, loved these cookies. They're actually quite nutty and toasty.

  9. Thanks! I loved your Brown Butter Butterscotch cookies too!

  10. A story we can all relate to! And, you're so thoughtful. I'm intrigued by the addition of sesame seeds to shortbread. We just returned from Charleston where they make Benne Wafers from Sesame seeds.

  11. These look delicious! I'm so used to the traditional chocolate chip, and I'm really looking to try something new! I'd love to make these! Have you ever heard of the cookbook Savory Baking? It has tomato cookies!

  12. I chopped my hair off last summer, intending to grow it out again, but I love it. It's a pixie cut. I do still miss big french braids though... I hope you're liking your hair more.


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