Sunday, April 29, 2012

Port and Sesame Biscuits

It's a fairly well known fact that I don't drink. I was never big on the taste of alcohol, despite my early introduction to it (in sips!) by my parents. It held no allure, and in most cases just bordered on plain nasty. Wine, champagne, spirits, or any beer besides Guinness? I'd take a pass (and even in the case of Guinness I had to be in the mood to drink it). Wine and champagne were the worst to my tastebuds, and discovering that I was hyper-sensitive to alcohol was almost a blessing because it meant I had an acceptable excuse for avoiding it at social events.

But just because I can't drink any alcohol doesn't mean I won't cook with it! I'm fully aware of the flavour profile a good glug of red wine can add to a beef stew, and how a glass of white can transform a chicken, broth and rice combination to Hen and Chick[pea] Paella Soup. I'm not above baking with it either, as numerous cakes, pie crusts, a peach tart and even a cookie I've posted show. Why not add to the boozy cookie arsenal with an unusual offering that is meant to be served with the liquor it contains?

When my grandparents came back from a trip to Portugal and Spain with a renewed taste for the sweet, fortified wine of the Portuguese Douro region, they also brought back a few bottles of varying kinds. After a few "try this one!" tastings of different bottles (I know one was a white port, which I had never heard of before), a tawny barrel-aged concoction, was gifted to us. Then it just sat in our liquor cabinet, more or less forgotten. Until now, that is.

A few months ago, I was reading through a copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar that I had taken out of the library and stumbled onto Isa's recipe for Sweet Wine Biscuits with Sesame. I was intrigued by the fact that the cookies were not overly sugary in design, more or less riding on the port for a little "oomph" (or in Portuguese, eu não sei o que!). I made some modifications to the recipe along the way, finding the dough too finicky as written, but the overall spirit (pardon the pun) stayed the same. I agree that these would be great to put on a cheese tray with fruit and crackers after dinner with a glass of the good (?) stuff.                     

Port and Sesame Biscuits 
Adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Makes 24
1/2 cup port wine
1/3 cup fruity, rich olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp anise or fennel seed
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sesame seeds
  1. In a bowl, combine wine, oil, sugar, lemon zest and anise, mixing well.
  2. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and sesame seeds.
  3. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F and line two sheets with parchment.
  5. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the sheets and bake the cookies (while the dough is still cold) for 13-14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 95.7
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.6 mg
Total Carbs: 10.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 1.6 g