Kalifornsky Kitchen: Festive without the fuss

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized I hate decorating cookies and I’m not good at it either.

I love receiving intricately decorated cookies around Christmastime.

Growing up we would spend hours baking and decorating sugar cookies with colorful globs of royal icing. But now that I’m an adult, I’ve realized I hate decorating cookies and I’m not good at it either. I don’t have piping precision or the attention span, and if the cookie doesn’t turn out exactly as I was hoping for, the whole thing feels futile.

Luckily, there are ways to make beautiful cookies without a steady hand and overly sweet royal icing. Marbling is a popular effect that’s been used to elevate the look of basically everything lately. Phone cases, countertops, stationary, clothing … and now cookies.

This recipe is inspired by last year’s New York Times Cooking Christmas cookie package from cookie expert, Susan Spungen. Her marbled black tahini cookies are dramatic and beautiful. I don’t have access to black tahini though, so I made my own take with these rectangular-shaped shortbread cookies.

Instead of giving the cookies a black tahini swirl, I mixed a hot pink raspberry syrup I made from raspberries I picked this summer with some sandy-colored tahini. I added a touch of pink food coloring for dramatic effect. But, the result is still a slightly dramatic design.

I thought adding matcha might help create a nice green swirl, but to me, it’s open to interpretation. Use what you have available to you.

Tahini should be available at any store near you. It’s like a sesame seed peanut butter, nutty and a little bit grainy (in a good way!).

3 cups flour

11⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

Cooking spray

1 cup of butter, softened (2 sticks)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄4 cup of tahini

1 egg white

Some chunky sugar or sprinkles to coat the cookie’s edges

Raspberry tahini

3 tablespoons of tahini mixed with 1 tablespoon of raspberry syrup and a couple of drops of pink food coloring

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, or a regular mixing bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar together until combined and fluffy. About 3 minutes. Then, add in the vanilla and egg, and beat for another few minutes until combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture until you get a pliable dough. Mound the dough together and break off about a third. Set it aside. Add the plain tahini to the mixing bowl with the majority of the dough and beat until combined. Once combined, place onto a floured surface and using your hands or a rolling pin, push it around until you get a large flag surface.

Place the remaining dough and the raspberry tahini into the mixing bowl and beat until combined. Place the pink dough on top of the plain, laid-out dough, and roll it/push it out to create another layer.

Fold the layers together and cut in half. Gently knead the doughs by folding the dough over itself several times. Fold the doughs together and create one log of dough.

In a bread pan lined with plastic wrap, place the log of dough inside and fill out the bottom of the pan. Wrap up the dough and place in the fridge or freezer to chill.

Once ready to bake, take out the block of dough and brush with egg white. Sprinkle and top dough block with sanding sugar or sprinkles and coat completely. Cut the block into quarter-inch slices and place those on a baking sheet. Bake for 16 minutes at 325 degrees.

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