A bit of Ying, a bit of Yang, and a whole lot of BANG (for your cookie buck).
When I was a kid, my dad and I would drive to our favorite Long Island bakery on Sundays to pick up fresh bagels. As a formerly rotund child, part of my scheme was to always secure two black and white cookies (one for home and one to eat in the car). This big-ass round sugar cookie, half chocolate icing, half vanilla icing, is an old-school American staple. But let’s face it: both sides were loaded with thick, bland icing, which means both sides ended up tasting similar.
That’s because cheap, flavored icing is like the airline meal of the pastry world. It does the job, I suppose, but it has no inspiration, no context and no contrast. Even though it is a New York bakery classic, the black and white cookie was screaming for some Asian elevation. Japanese sesame paste was a natural fit because it is instrumental in accentuating the sweet simplicity of the cookie base. In the original, the cookie itself was an afterthought because the icings did little for it. However, you will see that this humble sugar cookie was made for the dry, nutty flavor of sesame. It is also highly convenient that Japanese sesame paste comes in both black (robust and deep) and white (smoother and silkier, and more of a blonde color) types. Despite their similarities, they are distinctive and they combine to elevate simplicity into the sublime. Not everything in this world is black and white, but I’d wager this Japanese-inspired recipe will remove a few more doubts. Arigato.
© 2020 Jason Licker. All rights reserved.