Nouka Black Sesame Paste $15.95

If you like tahini, you’ll love black sesame paste.

This one from Nouka is crafted using a time-honored method beginning with choosing high-quality sesame seeds and then carefully boiling them until tender. Afterwards, the seeds go through a proprietary grinding process that yields a creamy paste with a soft mouthfeel and pleasant aroma.

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Black Sesame Browned Butter Cookies:
Start to finish: 45 minutes (25 minutes active), plus cooling
Makes 30 cookies

Heat the oven to 350°F with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with kitchen parchment. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, toast 160 grams (1 cup) sesame seeds, stirring often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely; wipe out but do not wash the skillet. In the same skillet over medium, melt 113 grams (8 tablespoons) salted butter, then cook, swirling the pan often, until the milk solids at the bottom are browned and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour into a medium heatproof bowl and cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour and ¼ teaspoon baking soda; set aside. To the cooled butter, add 60 grams (¼ cup) Nouka Black Sesame Paste, 210 grams (1 cup) turbinado sugar and ¼ teaspoon table salt; whisk until well combined (the sugar will not fully dissolve). Whisk in 1 large egg. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the sesame seeds, then add the flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened. Form the dough into 30 balls (about 1 rounded tablespoon each); arrange 15 balls on each prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Using the palm of your hand, flatten each ball into a ¼-inch-thick disk. Bake until the cookies have lightened in color and the edges are firm and slightly cracked, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer directly to wire racks and cool completely.

Kitchen Notes

Black sesame paste works for both sweet and savory dishes and can be substituted for tahini in many recipes for a deeper, more toasted sesame flavor. Try tossing a dollop in noodle dishes or add to mocha, cakes and breads. In Japan, it’s also frequently used to make a black sesame pudding. We also like to use this condiment to make a salad dressing: Whisk together 2 tablespoons black sesame paste with 3 to 4 tablespoons of either extra-virgin olive oil or thick whole-milk yogurt. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice or other acid, and season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. (If necessary, thin with water.) To this base, feel free to add cumin, coriander, cayenne, za’atar and chopped fresh herbs. On the sweet side, drizzle it over vanilla ice cream for a visually stunning Japanese-inspired dessert.

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