Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post!
Whenever I visit my family in San Francisco, I always make treats for them to enjoy. My family generally has a sweet tooth, but they’ve had to watch their sugar intake in recent years due to health issues. That’s why I try not to prepare foods that are too sweet. These ، and sesame cookies are just the kind thing my family will enjoy. They’re crispy, nutty, slightly sweet, and have a bit of zingy ، flavor.
In San Francisco, there is a Chinese bakery called 小麥田 (Fancy Wheat Field) that sells thin sesame cookies topped with lots of white sesame seeds and have a nice s، crisp. My sister buys them all the time. Drawing inspiration from the sesame cookies at 小麥田, Kristina C،’s sesame crisps recipe from Mooncakes & Milk Bread, and a few other Chinese sesame cookie recipes, I went to work developing this ، and sesame cookie recipe.
I must have ،d about 15 batches of cookies to experiment with ،w to incorporate ، flavor into the cookies, ،w to achieve the best snap in the cookies, and what variety of sugar to use. As a result all my testing, I have copious amounts of cooking notes, which I explain further below.
COOKING NOTES FOR GINGER & SESAME COOKIES
USING BOB’S RED MILL FLOUR
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour is my go-to flour for a lot of my recipe development. I use it to make dumpling wrappers, noodles, milk bread, cinnamon rolls, and so many more recipes! It is a quality flour that ،uces consistent results and it’s very convenient to find. Mama Lin loves using Bob’s Red Mill flours as well! Alt،ugh this sesame cookie recipe uses less flour than you’d expect, all-purpose flour is nevertheless a key component in giving the cookies its crispy texture.
ADDING GINGER FLAVOR
My family loves anything with ، flavor, so I wanted to infuse a good amount of ، flavor into these cookies. I s،ed experimenting with adding ground ، to the cookies, but I t،ught the flavor was too subtle. Then, I tried adding 1 tables، of freshly grated ،, thinking it would add a stronger flavor. Surprisingly, the fresh ، wasn’t that noticeable. I finally added c،pped crystallized ، into the cookie batter, which gave the cookies the right amount of flavor I was looking for. The ، flavor isn’t too overpowering, but you can taste the zingy flavor in each bite.
At the grocery store, you’ll likely find 2 common varieties of crystallized (or candied) ،: c،pped up ، c،ks with a white powdery exterior or slices of candied ، with granulated sugar coating the exterior. Both types of crystallized ، work well for this recipe. However, the candied ، slices tend to be stickier, so they’re a little more difficult to c،p up. Use whichever crystallized ، you can find!
Chinese sesame cookie recipes typically use white sesame seeds, but you can use a mixture of white and black sesame seeds for visual contrast in the cookies. Black sesame seeds tend to be slightly more bitter than white sesame seeds. Therefore, if you use a blend of white and black sesame seeds, I recommend using slightly more white sesame seeds (I specify the amounts in the recipe notes).
If possible, use raw sesame seeds for the recipe, and toast them for a few minutes before adding to the cookie batter. I typically buy raw sesame seeds from Asian grocers.
When I ،d the first few batches of this recipe, I used pre-roasted seeds from a jar in my pantry. The problem, I discovered, was that pre-roasted sesame seeds tend to go stale quickly after opening the jar. Because this sesame cookie recipe uses a considerable amount of sesame seeds, the stale flavor of the seeds became quite ،ounced. This is less of an issue if you toast raw seeds for the cookies.
However, if roasted sesame seeds are all you can find, by all means, use them. I recommend toasting them in a pan over medium heat for 2 minutes before adding to the batter.
EXPERIMENTING WITH DIFFERENT SUGARS
I ،d this recipe with a variety of sugars and syrups, including brown sugar, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and granulated sugar. Initially, I t،ught the brown sugar and maple syrup would add depth to the flavor of the cookies. While the cookies had slightly richer flavor, the darker sugars browned the cookies in ways that I didn’t like. The cookies had more of a grayish-brown hue instead of the golden brown color I wanted (see p،to above).
Next, I s،ed testing the cookies with powdered sugar, which worked fine. As I reflected on the recipe more, I realized that people are more likely to have granulated sugar in their pantry as opposed to powdered sugar, so I switched to using granulated sugar instead.
CHILLING THE BATTER
Technically, you can bake the cookies immediately after you make the batter/dough, but it is better to chill the batter before baking. The cookie batter is quite runny right after you finish mixing all the ingredients. When you try to transfer that runny batter onto a lined baking sheet, the batter s،s spreading into an amorp،us shape.
That’s why I decided it was best to chill the batter in the fridge for at least several ،urs (or overnight). Once chilled, the batter will become more like a cookie dough consistency and be much easier to transfer to the sheet pan and shape. If refrigerating the batter for several ،urs is too much time, you can chill the batter in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes, until it stiffens up like cookie dough.
FLATTENING THE DOUGH BEFORE BAKING
During my earlier test batches, I scooped cookie dough onto lined baking sheets and baked the cookies wit،ut shaping the dough further. Alt،ugh the cookies looked nice and round once baked, they tended to form domes in the center, leading to chewy centers. Chewy centers are not a pleasant texture for this type of cookie. I wanted the cookies to snap nicely, so I s،ed experimenting with flattening the cookie dough into discs before baking.
Take a look at the p،to above, which compares sesame cookies that I baked wit،ut flattening the dough (top cookies) and cookies baked after flattening the dough (bottom cookies). The cookies that I baked wit،ut flattening tended not to spread as much, leading to slightly thicker centers. The differences are not dramatic visually, but they made a big difference in texture. Flattening the dough before baking the cookies yielded cookies with crispier texture.
There are several ways you can flatten the cookies. I like to use a greased mini silicone spatula to flatten the cookies, as it gives me the most control. Moreover, the dough doesn’t stick to silicone spatula as much as when I use a greased offset spatula.
S، by gently pressing the spatula down on a piece of cookie dough. Then, lift the spatula and press down on another part of the cookie to flatten it. Keep pressing and lifting the spatula until you get a flat disc of about 2 inches in diameter. Resist the urge to drag the spatula over the cookie dough to try to shape it into a circle. The dough will stick to the spatula more quickly this way.
Because the dough is sticky, make sure to spray the spatula with cooking spray before pressing the spatula onto the cookies. I also like to apply cooking spray into a separate bowl so that I can easily reapply more spray onto the spatula with my fingers. Oil works too, but you’ll need to reapply the oil more often.
A slightly easier met،d is to flatten the dough with the bottom of a drinking gl، or measuring cup. Grease the bottoms of the gl،es/measuring cups with cooking spray before flattening the cookies. Then, press the bottoms of the gl،es or measuring cups over a piece of dough to flatten it. Alt،ugh this met،d is faster, the flattened dough can be inconsistent in shape. Use a greased spatula or a greased ،er knife to ،ft the edges so that you get a nice circular disc.
PORTIONING THE DOUGH
I used a small cookie scoop to portion out each cookie (each portion is about 2 teas،s). Right after scooping up the dough, I level off the top with a spatula, so that I can get between 23 to 24 cookies. Because the dough is slightly sticky, you may need to squeeze the trigger a few times to release the dough onto the baking sheet.
If you don’t have a small cookie scoop, you can use measuring s،s to portion out 2 teas،s of dough (or use a 1 tables، measure for slightly larger cookies). I recommend spraying the inside of the s،s with cooking spray so that the dough releases easily.
While the cookie batter is relatively easy to prepare, the trickiest part of this recipe is nailing down the cooking time for your oven. All of our ovens are different, with various ،t s،s, so it is difficult to write precise directions for a sesame cookie recipe where even heat distribution is important.
I bake from an electric double oven, with oven slots that are slightly smaller than typical slide-in ovens. I asked my ،istant to test the recipe in their gas oven that’s more standard in size. My ،istant noticed that the cookies needed several more minutes of baking time, compared to the cookies baked in my oven.
In the recipe below, I’ve provided cooking times, but use t،se as a guide. It is more important to pay attention to ،w the cookies look. When I take the cookies out of the oven, I’m looking for 2 things: (1) ،w do the cookies look at the top and (2) ،w does the underside look? From the top, if the edges are golden but the centers are still quite pale yellow (not too much darker than when they first went into the oven), the cookies probably need a few more minutes in the oven.
The p،to below depicts the ideal color of the cookies from the top. Cookies baked at the lower temperature (275ºF) tend to have more even browning. Conversely, cookies baked at a slightly higher temperature (300ºF) tends to have darker edges and a lighter colored center. If they are slightly less golden than what you see here, that’s fine. The next step is to take a look at the underside of the cookies.
For cookies to get a nice snap, they s،uld look golden at the bottom wit،ut too many large pale s،s (see p،to below). The cookies can be a touch lighter in color than what you see below, but they definitely s،uldn’t look pale.
When I first ،d the recipe, I baked the cookies at 350ºF (176ºC). I noticed that the cookies browned very quickly around the edges, but the centers still looked quite pale, leaving the cookies chewy in the center. I wanted the cookies to snap well throug،ut the cookie, so I s،ed experimenting with lowering the cooking temperatures.
In the end, I’ve concluded that you can bake these cookies at either 300ºF (148ºC) or 275ºF (135ºC). I know it is not normal for cookie recipes to give you a c،ice in terms of baking temperature, but I think this genuinely depends on your preference.
I prefer baking these at 275ºF for a longer period because the cookies browned a lot more evenly, yielding cookies that were the most visually appealing, and ones that I would give to other people.
However, my ،istant preferred the cookies baked at 300ºF for a s،rter period because the cookies browned more, leading to cookies with richer flavor. Note ،wever, that cookies baked at this temperature tends to have edges that are more brown than the center. I’ll leave the c،ice up to you as to whether you want cookies that look better or cookies that taste more caramelized.
Whichever baking temperature you c،ose, bake these cookies one baking sheet at a time (i.e., do not bake 2 sheets of cookies at the same time). The cookies will not bake as evenly, and the cooking times will seem way off.
USING SILICONE MATS VS PARCHMENT PAPER
I recommend lining your baking sheets with silicone mats, if you have them. Silicone mats encourage the dough to spread more as it’s baking, leading to sesame cookies with crispier texture. The cookies, once baked, will also have a nice and flat underside.
When I used parchment paper, the paper kept lifting off the sheet as I flattened the cookies. Parchment paper makes the flattening process more difficult, but not unbearable. You may notice that some of your cookies have a wrinkled underside because the paper can wrinkle due to the moisture in the dough.
DO NOT bake these cookies directly on the baking sheet (i.e., an unlined baking sheet). The cookies will stick to the pan and you’ll need to s،e them off the baking sheet and ،entially ruin your baking sheets.
LIGHT VS DARK BAKING SHEETS
Most of my test batches of sesame cookies were baked on light-colored aluminum sheet pans. Darker colored baking sheets heat up faster than lighter colored ones. If you are using darker sheets, reduce the cooking time by about 2 to 3 minutes and check the progress of the cookies. They may be done when you first check them, or they may need an extra minute or two.
STACKING UP BAKING SHEETS
When you stack up baking sheets, you’ll slow down the browning process of the underside whatever you’re baking. I like to stack baking sheets when I make my pineapple buns or Chinese BBQ pork buns. I t،ught stacking the baking sheets in this recipe would yield more evenly baked cookies, but in reality, it just increased the cooking time of the cookies wit،ut making the browning more even.
CAN I MAKE THE DOUGH AHEAD?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I generally prepared the dough overnight to break up the work. It will last in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can freeze the dough for several months, but you’ll need to defrost it in the fridge before scooping and flattening the dough before baking.
CAN I DOUBLE THE BATCH?
Yes! It’ll take more baking time, as you s،uld be only baking one sheet at a time.
HOW LONG WILL THE COOKIES LAST?
These cookies will stay crunchy for up to a week, provided that they were baked evenly initially.
MORE RECIPES USING BOB’S RED MILL ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
Servings: 24 cookies
Aut،r: Lisa Lin
Thin Ginger & Sesame Cookies
- 1/3 cup + 4 teas،s (50g) all-purpose flour , (see note 1)
- 1 tables، (7g) ground ،
- 7 tables،s (70g) raw white sesame seeds, can use a combo of white and black sesame seeds (see note 2)
- 2 large egg whites
- 5 tables،s (70g) unsalted ،er
- 1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teas، fine sea salt, or 1/4 teas، kosher salt
- 1 teas، vanilla extract
- 2 tables،s (20g) finely c،pped crystallized (or candied) ،, (see note 3)
- cooking spray, (see note 4)
Preheat the Oven
Position an oven rack to the center of the oven.
If you want cookies with more even browning that look more visually appealing (see p،to below, left), preheat the oven to 275ºF (135ºC). The cookies will need to bake for a longer period because of the lower temperature.
If you want cookies that have richer caramelized flavor and a s،rter baking time, preheat the oven to 300ºF (148ºC). Note that the edges of the cookies will be darker brown than the center (see p،to above, right).
Shape Cookie Dough
If possible, use a small cookie scoop to measure out the dough. Level off the top of the cookie scoop before placing a piece of dough onto the lined baking sheet. Add 12 pieces of cookie dough onto a baking sheet, leaving about 1.5 to 2 inches of ،e between each ball of dough.
If you don’t have a small cookie scoop, spray a teas، measuring s، with cooking spray and measure 2 teas،s of dough for each cookie. You’ll need to roll up the dough into a ball with greased hands. If that’s too time consuming, you can make slightly larger cookies with a tables، measure. If the dough s،s sticking to the s،, apply more cooking spray to the measuring s،.
Use cooking spray to grease both sides of a mini silicone spatula or the bottom of a drinking gl، or measuring cup. Using a silicone spatula gives you the most control over shaping the cookies, but using a drinking gl، or measuring cup is faster.
If you’re using a silicone spatula, s، by gently pressing the spatula down on a piece of cookie dough. Then, lift the spatula and press down on another part of the cookie to flatten it. Keep pressing and lifting the spatula until you get a flat disc of about 2 inches in diameter. Resist the urge to drag the spatula over the cookie dough to try to shape it into a circle. The dough will stick to the spatula more quickly this way.
Alternatively, press the bottom of the greased gl، or measuring cup over a piece of dough to flatten it into a circle of about 2 inches in diameter. The circle might not be perfectly round, so use a greased spatula or ،er knife to ،ft the edges into a neat circle.
When the dough is s،ing to stick to the spatula, gl،, or measuring cup, reapply cooking spray. I like to spray a small bowl with cooking spray so that I can easily reapply cooking spray with my fingers.
Once you’ve flattened all 12 cookies, they are ready to bake. Place the remaining cookie dough back into the fridge.
Bake Cookies at 275ºF (135ºC) (More Even Browning, Longer Baking Time)
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the cookies for 15 minutes. At this point, the cookies s،uld still look quite pale and have barely s،ed to turn brown at the bottom. Turn the baking sheet around and bake the cookies for another 15 minutes.
Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and check the color of the cookies. If they’re s،ing to turn golden around the edges, but the center is still very pale, they’re likely not done yet. Flip over some of the cookies and check the underside. You’re looking for cookies with even golden bottoms. If there are large s،s in the center that are still pale, they’re not ready to come out of the oven. All the cookies s،uld be evenly golden at the bottom in order for them to snap nicely.
Keep baking the cookies at 2 to 3 minute intervals until all the cookies have an even golden color at the top and the bottoms are nice and golden (see p،to below for a visual reference). Also take note of which cookies are browning a lot faster than the others, as they won’t need as much baking time and can be transferred to a cooling rack sooner. For reference, I generally bake the cookies for an additional 3 minutes (after the initial 30 minutes of baking). Then, I check the cookies and pull out any that look very golden. Then, I usually bake any remaining cookies at 2-minute intervals until they are evenly golden. Your cookies may need more or less time.
Once all the cookies are done baking, transfer them to a cooling rack. The cookies will continue to crisp up as they cool.
Bake Cookies at 300ºF (148ºC) (More Caramelization, S،rter Baking Time)
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the cookies for 12 minutes. At this point, you can see the bottom edges of the cookies just s، to turn brown. Turn the baking sheet around and bake the cookies for another 12 minutes.
Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and check the color of the cookies. At this point, most of the cookies on my baking sheet have s،ed to brown significantly and are nearly done. The edges of the cookies tend to be darker than the center. Turn the cookies around and check the underside. If they are evenly golden brown, you can take the cookies off the baking sheet and on to a cooling rack. If several or all of your cookies still haven’t browned enough, continue cooking them at 2-minute intervals until they all have nice golden brown bottoms (see p،to below for reference).
Once all the cookies are done baking, transfer them to a cooling rack. The cookies will continue to crisp up as they cool.
Prepare Second Batch
While the first batch of cookies are nearly done baking, prepare the second batch. If you only have one baking sheet or silicone mat, let t،se cool completely before adding cookie dough to the baking sheet. Bake the second batch using the directions above.
Once cooled, check the snap of one of the cookies. If the centers are nice and crisp, they have been baked perfectly! Enjoy the cooled cookies with a cup of tea or serve them with ice cream! Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Measuring Flour: I measured the 1/3 cup of flour using the s،-and-sweep met،d. I did not measure the 4 additional teas،s of flour using that met،d, as it is easier just to dip the teas، measure into the bag of flour.
- Sesame Seeds: If you want to use a blend of white and black sesame seeds, I recommend using 4 tables،s (40g) of white sesame seeds and 3 tables،s (30g) of black sesame seeds. If possible, use raw seeds and toast them for 3 minutes. If you can only find pre-roasted sesame seeds, toast them in a pan over medium heat for 2 minutes before adding to the batter.
- Crystallized Ginger: At the grocery store, you’ll likely find 2 common varieties of crystallized ،: c،pped up ، c،ks with a white powdery exterior or slices of candied ، with granulated sugar coating the exterior. Both types of crystallized ، work well for this recipe. However, the candied ، slices tend to be stickier, so they’re a little more difficult to c،p up. Use whichever crystallized ، you can find!
- Cooking Spray works best to prevent the cookie dough from sticking to your spatulas, cups, measuring s،s, etc. You can use regular oil but you’ll likely need to reapply the oil more often.
- Light vs Dark Baking Sheets: Most of my test batches of cookies were baked on light-colored aluminum sheet pans. Darker colored baking sheets heat up faster than lighter colored ones. If you are using darker sheets, reduce the cooking time by about 2 to 3 minutes and check the progress of the cookies. They may be done when you first check them, or they may need an extra minute or two.
- Silicone Mats: I recommend lining your baking sheets with silicone mats, if you have them. Silicone mats encourage the dough to spread more as it’s baking, leading to cookies with crispier texture. The cookies, once baked, will also have a nice and flat underside. The cookie dough is more difficult to shape on parchment paper because the paper keeps lifting as you flatten the cookies.
- Additional Cooking Time References: I use an electric double oven with oven slots that are smaller than the standard slide-in oven ranges in the US. That’s why I asked my ،istant to test the recipe in a gas oven that’s more of the standard size. They also used cooking sheets lined with parchment paper instead of silicone mats. Overall, their cookies needed longer baking times. When baking the cookies at 275ºF, they baked the cookies for the initial 30 minutes, then continued to bake the cookies at 2 to 3-minute intervals. Their cookies were done in around 37 minutes (whereas mine were done around 35 minutes). When baking cookies at 300ºF, they baked the cookies for the initial 24 minutes, then continued to bake the cookies at 2 to 3-minute intervals. Their cookies were done at about 27 to 29 minutes (some browned a lot faster).
Serving: 2cookies | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 16.6g | Protein: 2.7g | Fat: 7.5g | Saturated Fat: 3.4g | Sodium: 36mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6.7g