Sesame Cookies

These cookies are an adaptation of Cake Boss’s sesame cookie recipe. I love his trick of soaking the sesame seeds before rolling the dough in them. It keeps them from burning in the oven and also helps them stick to the dough.


  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups sesame seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups unbleached pastry flour (from King Arthur)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


Preheat the oven to its lowest setting. Spread the lemon zest on a baking sheet and dry out until flaky, about 30 minutes. Let cool. Leave the oven on, but increase the temperature to 350°F. Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets.

Place the sesame seeds in a bowl and cover with some water. Let soak for about 5 minutes, then drain in a strainer and spread out on a plate.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer cream together the sugar and shortening. Beat in the vanilla. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the milk and lemon zest. Then beat in the flours. Sprinkle in the baking powder and beat it in.

Turn the dough out onto a pastry board (or marble slab, if you have one). Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece into a rope 1 inch in diameter. Cut each rope into 2-inch pieces. In batches, dredge the pieces of dough in the sesame seeds. Then working with one piece at a time, roll each cookie between your hands into a 2-inch log slightly pointed at the ends.

Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake until deeply golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

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