Once every couple of months or so (whenever we’re in town for the third Saturday, which isn’t often), we get to the local Vegan Potluck over at a cohousing community in Durham (If you’re interested, it’s posted via the Triangle Vegetarian and Vegan meetup). Which, of course, means bringing something vegan. (We don’t keep a vegan household, but I essentially have to eat vegan these days except for eggs, and we both love tasty vegan food.)
I like to bring something savory and try a new vegan sweet – this week I pulled out the artisan bread dough hanging out in the fridge and made a couple dozen rolls, and looked through some of my cookbooks to get inspiration about dessert.
In Taste and See: Allergy Relief Cooking I found a recipe for Sesame Sticks that not only fit my incredibly ridiculous dietary requirements, but could be made vegan and looked really tasty. Win! Turns out the only other dessert that didn’t contain soy was some Chocamole (avocado and cocoa, as well as some other stuff – it was kinda weird, but pudding-textured and chocolatey, so that was nice), so I’m glad I made something myself.
Back when I was in college, I used to work at the local mall for a company called National Health and Nutrition (dead now), a sort of GNC. They sold, among lots of herbal supplements and vitamins and protein mixes, these fabulous little sesame cookies that weren’t crunchy but chewy, and seemingly made of nothing but sesame seeds and honey. I LOVED those things. Ate way too many. Have never found them since – but this filled that niche quite nicely. Not sure this is a good thing…
I made quite a few substitutions in this recipe, so I’ll write it up the way I made it, with notes about the original recipe.
(adapted from Sesame Fingers, in Taste and See: Allergy Relief Cooking by Penny King)
1 1/4 cup coconut (I used sweetened because it’s what I had, but I think unsweetened would be better)
1/2 cup agave syrup (originally called for honey, but vegans are kind of split on that one, so I played it safe. Plus, agave has a lower glycemic index than honey, so it fit better with the low-sugar thing I’m supposed to be doing)
1 TB vanilla
1 TB grated orange peel
1 TB cornstarch (or arrowroot)
2 1/2 cups sesame seeds (I used 2 cups plain, and 1/2 cup black sesame seeds, which have a sort of poppyseed taste – you could either use all regular sesame seeds, or use 1/2 cup poppyseeds if you don’t have black sesame seeds (available from Penzey’s, or likely your local middle-eastern shop. I wanted the black color, thought it made them more interesting).
1/2 cup date butter*
1/2 cup tahini (could substitute peanut butter or almond butter)
1/4 tsp salt (optional – I forgot to add it and never noticed).
*date butter – heat together 1 Cup dates and 1 cup water until dates are soft; blend and cool. Makes about 1 cup. Store extra in fridge.
This is one of those recipes with really terse instructions. Reminds me of reading the Julie/Julia Project and how Julie’d always know she was in trouble when Julia got terse. This cookbook was written in 1992 but has that good ol’ 1970’s feel to it, typewriter-y print and terse instructions and all.
1. Mix all ingredients. ‘Spread evenly on oiled cookie sheet’.
[it doesn't specify how thick, or how big a cookie sheet, or or or... I used one of my flat sheets and spread it about 1/2 inch thick, and it took twice as long to cook. If you want something slightly crunchier, spread it thinner. If you like chewy, maybe use a jelly roll pan and fill it. Definitely oil the sheet, though. ]
2. Bake at 300F for 35-40 minutes (original recipe called for 20 minutes, but this was inadequate for all but the edges – the middle was still a gooey mess even after it had cooled.) Will get crisp as it cools (this did not happen for me). Cut.
These are good the day you make them, and good the day after. They likely keep well indefinitely, and probably ship well.