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Sesame Cookies ~ Halwa Simsim

Sesame Cookies ~ Halwa Simsim

Moroccan cookies are traditionally made with a handful of ingredients.  Almonds, sesame seeds and honey are the three ingredients found in some combination on nearly every cookie. It wasn’t a surprise that this cookie was no different.  I made these cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap but wanted to incorporate them into my Hanukkah series.  So I chose a cookie that was in this cookbook.  I’ve been using it for inspiration as I make these new foods.  I really thought this would be a quick and interesting recipe to put together.  It was interesting- it was not quick.

What is the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap? 

The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Awesome right?

Also this year each participant donated $5 towards Cookies for Kids Cancer and got a super cute orange spatula.  Did you know pediatric cancer claims more children’s lives in the US than any other illness?  Over $4,000 was raised from participating food bloggers alone through this event!

Bring on the Cookies!

I sent my cookie packages to Caitlin of Chopsticks and Measuring Cups, Joanne of Eats Well With Others and Madison of Espresso and Cream.  Sadly it seems Madison’s cookies didn’t make it and got lost somewhere between Wisconsin and Iowa.  I have a feeling there’s a happy cow munching sesame cookies somewhere.  In exchange I got some amazing pecan cookies from Karis of Karis’ Kitchen, tahini butter cookies from Annelies of The Food Poet and Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies from Aaron of the Hungry Hutch.    Thank you so much everyone!

Now for my cookies.  I started by roasting the sesame seeds (6 cups!) in a low oven.  You could also do this on the stove top but with 6 cups it was easier to use a large jelly roll pan to spread them out.  While they roasted I went to work chopping up the walnuts (1 cup) and starting the caramel.

Oh the caramel.


This is the trickiest part of the recipe.  I am forewarning you that you will need some patience when making this but I think in the end it was worth it.  In a large skillet you’ll be adding 2 cups of white sugar.  Turn the stovetop on low – but almost at medium.  If it’s too low the sugar won’t get hot enough to start melting.  If it’s too hot this is what happens;

Don’t do that.  The sugar will crystallize too fast and will break.  Instead wait patiently while it starts to melt.  It’s really tempting to start stirring but don’t do it.  You will see that the sugar melts down and starts to turn brown. SLOWLY start to mix it but only in the places where it has started to melt.  Work from the closest place and slowly add in more of the solid sugar.  What you end up with is caramel.  This part can take 30 minutes. I only went through 4 cups of sugar before I figured out how to do this!

Once you’ve gotten the caramel made add 1 cup of honey to it. It will sizzle and bubble a little but just patiently stir it.  Everything should combine evenly.  In a large mixing bowl add the sesame seeds and walnuts then pour the honey/caramel over the top.  Use a rubber spatula to combine everything.  As it starts to cool a bit you can use your hands to make sure everything is sticking together.

Next pour out everything onto a large cutting board.  I used wood because it was what was clean. I recommend using plastic for the stickiness.  Before cutting I popped this into the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that it would firm up.  Then I cut the pieces into small squares for serving.

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Moroccan Hanukkah Recipes and Traditions
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