Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sesame Lace Cookies with Orange-Date Sauce

Sesame Lace Cookies with Vanilla Ice Cream and Orange Date Sauce

I realize that there are numerous ingredients thrown together here, but I wanted to create a dessert that reflected the various sweet treats I had in Mali. In Mali, and other parts of West Africa, dessert is not frequently served. For many people, desserts such as cakes and pastries are an unaffordable luxury, served mainly in urban upscale restaurants. To satisfy a sweet craving, most people eat fruit, such as oranges, watermelon or bananas, sweetened ginger or hibiscus drinks, fruit popsicles, or sesame and peanut cookies. In the villages, many people keep bees and eat the honey for a treat.

I decide to combine some of the flavors I remember in this dessert. The subtle flavor of sesame seeds, which are thought to originate in Africa, is brought out during the baking of these cookies. The light and crunchy texture complements vanilla ice cream, while the orange-date syrup adds enough tart flavor to balance the sweetness of the ice cream. It looks pretty, too.

Sesame Lace Cookies (adapted from recipe from Ellen Deskin)

1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup sugar
1 tsp honey
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ tsp cardamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat oven to 325 degree F. In a large bowl combine oats, sugar, flour, ginger, cardamon
salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl whisk together butter, honey and egg and
stir into dry ingredients. Add the sesame seeds and stir until they are evenly

Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
Drop level teaspoons of dough 3 inches apart on prepared sheet; flatten
slightly. Bake until cookies are golden, about 10 minutes. Let cookies cool
completely, then remove from parchment. Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes 5 dozen.

Orange Date Sauce

1/2 cup pitted dates, (12-14 small dates)
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch each ground ginger and cardamon
1 cup water

¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1.5 tsp lemon juice
1/8 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

To serve:

Chop dates and add to saucepan with orange rind, spices and water. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Transfer to blender and puree. Meanwhile, clean saucepan and add remaining 5 ingredients. Cook over medium heat. Stir until heated through and sugar dissolves. Then simmer without stirring for about 2 minutes. Let cool. Add to blender with date puree and strain through cheesecloth or strainer into glass jar.

To serve put one scoop vanilla ice cream on plate. Drizzle date sauce over ice cream, and place cookies on ice cream in any artistic fashion you like. Enjoy!