When I was experimenting with my version of the classic maejakgwa cookie from Korea I found a large jar of black sesame seeds in the Asian section of my supermarket. I was sprinkling them over my sesame cookies with hibiscus glaze and realized that I did not even know what a sesame plant looked like. It turns out to be a large annual with beautiful white or pink-white flowers that look much like foxgloves. By the lightest touch the ripe seed pods pop open scattering the seeds. Sesame seeds and oil are frequently used ingredients in Korea and can be found in sweet and savory dishes. I combined the deep nutty taste of sesame with a tangy syrup made with tea brewed from hibiscus, South Korea’s national flower. Black sesame seeds taste the same as the ordinary white ones. So just use the white seeds if you cannot get hold of the pretty black ones.
Sesame cookie with hibiscus glaze
2 tablespoons (black) sesame seed + extra for sprinkling
250 grams flour
large pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
135 milliliters water
vegetable oil for frying
for the syrup
1 teabag hibiscus tea or a small handful of dried hibiscus flowers
150 milliliters water
150 grams sugar
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Mix the flour with the salt, the sesame oil, the honey, the toasted sesame seeds and the water and bring together in a ball. Add some water if the dough is too dry.
Knead for about 15 min. into a nice elastic dough. I used my food processor with a dough hook for this. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 min.
Roll out the dough very thinly to about ¼ cm (⅛ inch) and cut out cookies with a cookie cutter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Fill a wide pan with about 10 cm (4 inches) of oil and heat to about 160°C/ 320°F. A piece of bread or some left over dough that is dropped in the oil should start bubbling immediately. Put a few cookies in the pan. Bake them golden brown in a few minutes. Turn them to get a nice even color. Take the sesame cookie out of the pan with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on a plate with some kitchen paper.
Brew strong hibiscus tea with the teabag or the dried flowers and the water. In a saucepan bring the sugar and the tea for the syrup to a boil. Leave to boil on low for about 15 min. until you get a thick syrup. Dip the sesame cookies in the syrup. Sprinkle with sesame seed and eat immediately while they are warm or leave to dry for a crunchy cookie.
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