Friday, July 20, 2007

mediterranean shortbread you won't regret

this shortbread is something i found quite a few years ago from one of the moosewood books and is quite different from regular shortbread as it uses tehina paste which imparts a nutty flavour. it makes two rounds which yield 16 pieces but (the recipe) can be cut in half. i usually end up freezing one of the rounds to sneak out pieces for an occasional midnight snack or to serve for guests when i need something sweet to go with coffee.

the recipe can be made with or without the nuts, both ways are good. so, go ahead and try it. i'm sure you'll like it :) only caveat is not to overbake the shortbread or it will get hard and have too dark of a colour. the tahini paste can be easily purchased in major supermarkets these days, at specality stores or even made yourself at home if you cannot get it ready made.

tehina shortbread

this mediterranean or mideastern-type shortbread is a nice deviation from the norm and is perfect for that strong cup of turkish coffee or espresso. simply made from butter, tehina paste, brown sugar and some flour, it bakes into a beautiful dessert, especially when adding pecans. of course, nuts are optional but they do make a big difference.

yields 16 pieces


3/4 c butter
1/2 c tehina [sesame seed paste (aka tahini)]
1 1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
2 c cake and pastry flour (or AP), unsifted

1/2 c chopped & toasted pecans or almonds

16 whole pecans or almonds, for garnish


preheat the oven to 375F and lightly butter two 7 inch round pans. if using 8 inch ones, you will need to bake the shortbread for less time and it will be much thinner. i suggest 7 inch pans.

if using the nuts, toast them first (not the reserved 16!) and chop them medium coarsely or smaller and set aside for later. you'll probably need about 3/4 to 1 c of whole nuts for the 1/2 c chopped amount. i've never measured beforehand.

in food processor or with mixer, blend the softened butter with the tehina paste until it is well blended.

add the sugar and salt and blend again until well mixed and smooth.

add the flour and blend again.

add the nuts, if using, and mix well. it will be a stiff mixture.

divide the mixture into two and place one half of the mixture into the greased pan.

press it down with your hands and use the other unfilled pan to compact it. the mixture should be about a 1/4 inch thick. do the same for the other pan.

lightly score the shortbread with a spatula or knife into 8 equal segments and press a nut into each piece.

bake for only 15 minutes or less. the edges should be slightly browned. keep watch or it may cook too fast.

remove from oven and after about 10 minutes, cut through the segments very carefully. it is more difficult to do if you used nuts in the mixture and as you get to the edges. you must cut it before it cools or it will crumble to pieces.

wait for it to cool completely. don't take it out before or it will fall apart; it needs time for the sugar and butter to set into a solid.

once cooled, serve and enjoy!


Anonymous said...

mmmm sounds yummy! It would go really well with coffee!

burekaboy — said...

hi maninas - it does indeed ;)

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Ohhh, BB, you are brilliant... it's like halvah in the form of a buttery cookie! I can't wait to try it.

burekaboy — said...

hey em - yup, totally halvalicious ;D hope you do try this one; it's worth the calories :)) comes out looking pretty professional, too, for very little effort. pecans, yum!

Jihan said...

this is something I have never seen before....
hey I really love your knife...

burekaboy — said...

PJ - hi :) not many people know this version. usually it's just butter, flour (no sesame paste), white sugar and maybe some rice flour. knife is a paring knife for cutting up vegetables & fruit, etc. it cost me a fortune but will last forever ;)

Lakshmi said...

hmmmm yummmmm that's what I can say. Can I use microwave for this as I see the baking time is very short? I would love to try it. Since I do not have an oven, I was thinking of a shortcut! Please suggest.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, I'm a tahini fan and this shortbread has caught my attention! It looks absolutely wonderful! It must have an interesting nutty taste.. Yum!

burekaboy — said...

lakshmi - hi, thanks for your nice comment :) unfortunately, i don't think this kind of baked good would work well in a microwave oven. i've only ever seen directions for baking shortbread in a conventional oven. sorry for the "bad" news :(( someone else may still turn around and say you can so there may be good news in the future -- i'll let you know if someone tells me it's possible; not sure you want to chance wasting the ingredients....

hi rosa - you should really try this version — it's quite different from the standard plain kind. i'm sure you won't be disappointed, especially if you love tahini ;)

Anonymous said...

hello and नमस्ते !
so many new recipes on ur blog in such a short span of time!
this weekend, we tried ur shortbread recipe using home made tahini and in three words it was - divine, inviting and a heavenly shortbread :-)))
By chance discovered seasme oil (eureka eureka....LOL....errr....rhymes with bureka...lollll) somewhere. and that was it.
To all the visitors, i wud like to mention ,that, this one is very easy to do. even a novice like me cud make it perfectly. the brown sugar really lifted the crunch factor.
plz note that mine was done at around 12 baking times do vary.
it has been enjoyed and relished by all, the kids and adults alike! again in our case the novelty factor comes into play. but yes the taste is important too!
im glad ME sweets are travelling to India via internet.
thanks a ton bb for posting such a wonderful recipe and looking forward to more such desserts/recipes.

burekaboy — said...

hi UB - lol, yes, i posted a few (recipes) over the last week or two. i even have a few more coming up.

glad to hear you got around to trying this out, found it very easy to make and, most importantly, that everyone enjoyed it :) funny coincidence that you just found the sesame oil around the same time, too.

i have a feeling your oven is a little hotter than what it says. mine is also so i bake around 25 degrees F or so lower (depending upon what i am making). in the end, however, better a shorter cooking time than burned baked goods :o

thanks for the nice comment and recipe "promotion". you may enjoy the next thing i am posting, so stay tuned! ;)