A classic Middle Eastern treat, barazek are nut-filled sesame seed cookies that make the perfect crunchy snack or dessert. Filled with the toasty flavors of pistachio nuts and sweetened with a touch of honey and vanilla, these cookies are just the right balance of nutty, crunchy, and lightly sweet.
There are few things in life more enjoyable than the warm, sweet aromas that fill up your kitchen while baking cookies at home — especially during the holidays! If your family is like mine, holiday time means an endless supply of cookies of all shapes, sizes, and flavors. We like to save the basic chocolate chip cookies for the rest of the year and bake unique treats that really wow everyone for this special season, like pillowy Greek honey cookies or buttery, fruit-filled maamoul.
A family-wide favorite are these barazek (even my mother-in-law loves these). Similar to sesame seed candies, they’ve got a wonderful crunch of sesame in each bite, and they’re not overly sweet. The dough is rolled into balls, covered with sesame seeds and then pressed down on chopped pistachios. Once baked the sesame is on top and the pistachios are on the bottom!
I believe these sesame cookies are of Syrian origin, and with almond flour and tahini in the mix, it’s a gluten free as well.
These thin, nutty cookies are the perfect semi-indulgent treat after a big, filling dinner. They even make a great addition to tea time or brunch, and I love to munch on them for a simple mid-day snack!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Almond Flour – Also known as almond meal, almond flour will add yet another layer of nuttiness to these crispy cookies. Using all-purpose flour may make these cookies a bit moist or chewier.
- Toasted Fennel Seeds – This is an optional ingredient. Toasted and ground into a powder, the fennel seeds add anise or licorice-like flavor that is subtly sweet and semi-bitter.
- Honey – Used to sweeten the cookies. Unlike sugar, honey will add some needed moisture to these cookies. Substitute with maple syrup if needed, but expect a slightly different flavor and texture.
- Tahini – Since tahini is actually made from ground sesame seeds, it gives these cookies a deeply rich, nutty flavor and a creamier texture. It’s used in place of butter in this recipe, but it can be substituted with almond butter or any seed or nut butter. Just make sure you consider the flavor of the butter before swapping!
- Vanilla – This will enhance every nutty, toasty flavor in each ingredient while adding a warm sweetness.
- Sesame Seeds – You can’t have sesame seed cookies without ‘em!
- Pistachios – Chopped up, these distinctly-flavored nuts make a lovely, crunchy crust-like bottom for each cookie.
HOW TO MAKE BARAZEK
1. Prep For Baking. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2. Chop Pistachios. Once the pistachios are chopped, you’ll want to divide them up in on the baking sheets, sprinkling a pinch of nuts where each cookie will go, leaving one or two inches between each cookie.
3. Toast Fennel Seeds. If using, toast seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet until they’re nice and fragrant. Once cooled, grind them into a powder.
4. Combine Dry Ingredients. Mix almond flour, ground fennel, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl.
5. Combine Wet Ingredients. In a small bowl, mix honey, tahini, and vanilla. Add this mixture into the dry mixture and combine well.
6. Form Cookies. Roll dough into balls about the size of cherries. If dough is too wet, add more almond flour.
7. Add Sesame Seeds. Roll each dough ball in sesame seeds so that they’re fully coated. Place on top of the chopped pistachios.
8. Flatten & Bake. With the bottom of a glass or your palm, flatten each dough ball so that the pistachios stick and the cookies are about ½-inch thick. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookie bottoms are golden.
Where are Barazek Cookies From?
Bazarek are said to have originated in Syria hundreds of years ago. Today, they are very commonly found in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine.
Can You Freeze Sesame Seed Cookies?
You can store barazek in an airtight container at room temperature for about four days. Or, you can freeze the baked cookies for two to three months. Thaw them on the counter at room temperature before serving.
Do You Have to Toast Sesame Seeds?
In this recipe, it’s not necessary to toast the seeds since they do get a nice toasting while the cookies bake. Toasting sesame seeds beforehand simply helps to enhance the depth of their nutty flavor profile.
What is the Difference Between White and Black Sesame Seeds?
White sesame seeds are typically sesame seeds that have had their outer hull removed. Black sesame seeds still have the harder outer hull, so they tend to contain more nutrients, a stronger flavor, and more crunch. Both are quite similar.
Barazek (Sesame Seed Cookies)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the chopped pistachios with a pinch where each cookie will go on the baking sheet(s) leaving 1-2 inches space between cookies.
- Toast 1 1/2 teaspoons of fennel seeds in a dry, small skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Let cool and grind into powder (this spice add is optional).
- In a small bowl, combine and mix the almond flour, ground fennel, kosher salt and the baking soda. In a medium bowl, stir together the honey, tahini and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. The dough should be solid enough to form balls when rolled in the palm of your hand. If it's too wet, add some more almond meal.
- Form dough balls into about the size of a cherry. Roll each ball in the sesame seeds to coat and place on top of the chopped pistachios lining the baking sheets.
- Use the bottom of a ramekin, glass or your palm and flatten each cookie dough ball to 1/2-inch thickness, pressing gently to adhere pistachios to the bottom of cookie. Repeat until you make 24 cookies.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until bottoms are golden.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.