Baharat Sesame & Fig Cookies
Makes 24 cookies. The salted-fig, sesame, and orange flavor combination is inspired by cookies once made by our friends at Sofra Bakery & Cafe.
Although traditionally used in savory dishes, we’ve found that baharat is good in certain sweets. Our version, Bazaar Baharat, includes a number of ‘sweet spices’ that are often used in desserts (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, mint) — but the surprise is that its cumin works well too, adding balance and depth.
For these homey cookies, we’ve included sesame seeds and tahini for their nutty richness and orange zest for a little sparkle. The cookies are chewy with pleasing crunchy edges and, because the figs are salted, have that addictive interplay of salty and sweet.
2½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons un-hulled sesame seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
6–7 dried Turkish figs
Wet ingredients and spices:
10 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons tahini
2/3 cup brown sugar, not packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Bazaar Baharat
2 teaspoons dried orange zest (or fresh from one large orange)
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the oats, flour, sesame seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon of the salt into to a large mixing bowl. Stir well to make sure they’re combined (especially important for the baking powder and baking soda).
Chop the figs into small, bite-sized chunks. Toss with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and set aside. Add the figs to the bowl of dry ingredients, toss to distribute.
Melt the butter and tahini together either in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat or in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave (30-45 seconds on medium power).
Add the sugars, Bazaar Baharat, and orange zest to the butter mixture and beat with a whisk to combine. Add the egg and beat until no streaks are visible; stir in the vanilla.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with strong strokes to combine (the dough will be fairly stiff). Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, which allows the flavors to bloom and the oats to hydrate a bit.
While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 350º F and line two half-sheet pans with baking parchment.
Scoop in ¼ cup portions using a disher scoop (or a measuring cup), pack the dough into the scoop with the heel of your hand before releasing it onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue until all the dough is scooped — the scoops should be placed about 2 inches apart. If you used a disher to scoop the dough, use three fingers and gentle pressure to flatten each scoop slightly into an inch-thick puck shape.
Bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops look slightly underdone, 14–17 minutes depending on your oven (don’t over-bake). Cool on the baking pans for 5–10 minutes, transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or bag and freeze.
You can also freeze the shaped-but-unbaked cookies. Bake straight from the freezer, adding a minute or two to the baking time.