- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cookies in the shape of your favorite star (five- or six-pointed) can add greatly to your hopefully-already-festive spirits. For Hanukkah, scatter six-pointed star cookies around the candle-lighting table. For Christmas, poke a medium-sized hole in the top of one of the five points, and when the cookie cools, thread some string through it and hang it on your tree.

The flavor combination in this dough is a deep, toasty sesame, so you love both halvah and shortbread, these cookies are for you.You can use either sesame butter (made from toasted, unhulled seeds) or tahini (made from raw, hulled seeds) with equally good results. Be sure whichever you use is soft and fluid enough to drip down in a steady stream from a spoon.

Beyond stars, you can make these into any shape you like. They will still have the same flavor. You can also chill or freeze the dough practically indefinitely, if you wrap it well and seal it in a plastic bag. Let it warm up almost to room temperature before rolling.

Sesame stars

A few sesame seeds for the pan

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sesame butter or tahini

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 cups unbleached white flour (plus extra for rolling the dough)

1 teaspoon baking powder

teaspoon salt

FOR THE TOP:

Sesame seeds

Granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly sprinkle a baking tray with sesame seeds. Cream together the butter, sesame butter or tahini, and sugars in a medium-large mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt directly into the butter mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch shapes with a knife or a cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking tray. Sprinkle the tops with a few sesame seeds and some sugar and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Makes 4 dozen 2-inch cookies.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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