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sesame-miso cookies and a year of this thing

In baking, cookies, sweets, year-round on 7 February, 2012 at 10:40 pm

A year ago today, probably to the hour, I was writing the first-ever post on this blog, about a fig I’d carried home so carefully in the palm of my hand. How long ago that all now seems.  

Last summer I was all anticipation, all breathless excitement for what was ahead. This summer? Defeat. I really don’t want to complain about the weather on this blog but I will say this: if I wanted to spend my summer wearing woolly cardigans and thick socks I’d have chosen to live in Iceland.* This summer I haven’t been nearly as excited about the glut of berries, the juiciest peach, the ripest tomatoes. This summer I’ve mostly wanted to throw on a blanket and curl up with a bowl of soup and maybe, you know, have a wee cry at the thought of actually being on a beach.

Okay, I may be being a bit dramatic. I mean, we have had little snippets of sunshine and I haven’t been wearing thick socks ALL summer (though I am wearing a big woolly cardigan as I type this). But it hasn’t felt like summer. So I guess I was hit with the realisation that, whoa, this time last year I was all excited about late summer and this year I’m still hanging on to this hope that we’re going to have this nice long languorous summer with jugs of Pimm’s in the late-afternoon sun and jandals. Figs? No, no, I’m not ready yet.

Every time I look out the window and see people walking by wearing boots and puffy jackets (for real!! it’s supposed to be February, for goodness’ sake!) I get a little bit sad, a little bit droopy-hearted. But maybe I’ve been looking at this all the wrong way. It’s not like we can do anything about what the weather’s going to do tomorrow. And maybe the best way is not necessarily declaring defeat or resignation, but instead accepting things for what they are. Moving forward. Getting on with it. If that means I have to wear tights in the summer months** then so be it.

So this year, on the first anniversary of the very first post on this blog, I don’t have an amazing birthday cake full of seasonal fruits and flavours for you. I don’t even have anything that says it should be summer, no plums or peaches, no boysenberries or cherries or nectarines. But you know what I do have? Miso cookies.

Yes! Miso cookies! Now here is something I’m excited about, and that you can get excited about too, no matter what the season. I’d been mulling the idea over for a while, actually since I got my hands on the second issue of Lucky Peach, which had this fantastically illustrated feature on miso (all of the types!) and also Christina Tosi’s recipe for the corn cookies served at Momofuku Milk Bar. I haven’t spent enough time in New York City to have ever visited any of the Momofuku restaurants, let alone Milk Bar,*** but their stuff is pretty legendary, and anyway I was intrigued by the “10-minute creaming process” involved in making the corn cookies.

So I started thinking about a cookie, with miso, kind of like a peanut butter cookie in crossing the savoury-sweet bridge. Something that’s both chewy and crisp. Something that would involve creaming butter and sugar together for ten whole minutes and begging forgiveness of the tired old electric mixer afterwards.

The result was this: exactly what I had envisioned, with the added touch of a tablespoonful of black sesame seeds sprinkled through. Straight out of the oven, they were a dream – hot, buttery, almost-gooey – that only got better as they cooled to crispy-edged, chewy-centred, salty-sweet cookies with an extra nutty hint of sesame. Like peanut butter cookies. But better.

*Er, does anyone who reads this blog actually live in Iceland? I’m only going by summer photos of Reykjavik I’ve seen on street style blogs… I mean, it would be pretty cool to be in Iceland, but, also… cool.

**It’s something I generally refuse to do, no matter how cold it gets. I’ll wear pants, yes, but tights? Not in summer, not on my life. (Or maybe not anymore.)

***Though clearly I need to. Look at their menu!

(adapted from Christina Tosi’s corn cookie recipe in Lucky Peach. Awesome.)

200g butter, room temperature or a bit softer, though not melted
300g sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp miso*
275g flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sesame seeds**

Cream butter and sugar using a mixer (stand or handheld) for a couple minutes, until the mixture starts to fluff up. Add the egg and beat on a medium-high speed for 8 or so minutes, until the sugar’s pretty much dissolved and it looks a bit like this. Now mix in the miso until it’s all blended together.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture. Stir it well (I abandoned the mixer and used a wooden spoon at this point) until it all comes together. If it seems a bit dry at first, don’t worry. It will come together.

If you haven’t already, stir in the sesame seeds. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about an hour. I actually popped the whole bowl, covered, into the freezer while I cleaned up the mess I’d made and that seemed to work just fine.

Heat the oven to 180C. Drop walnut-sized balls of dough on a cookie sheet (lined with baking paper, if you’re so inclined) and bake for 12-15 minutes. Rotate halfway through and start checking after 12 minutes if your oven’s temperamental like mine. When they’re done, they’ll be a golden-brown colour, a bit more so at the edges, just a bit paler in the middle.

Cool on a wire rack. Share with those you love, and watch the look of puzzlement on their faces when they ask “Yum, what kind of cookies are they?” and you say, grinning, “Miso!”

Makes about two dozen. 

*I used 2 tbsp and the dough tasted quite miso-y, but after baking the miso flavour really mellows out quite a bit. Don’t worry, it’s nothing like miso soup. Next time I may try adding half a tablespoon more, though not too much more than that – otherwise it’d probably start to get too salty.

**You can add more if you like – I was just running low. 1 tablespoon makes cookies that are daintily flecked with sesame seeds. Not bad.

  1. Happy blog birthday! You and I both started out about same time. These cookies look so original and tasty – nice flavours. Don’t let the weather get you down – it could be worse! But it is kind of strange to be in the last month of summer when we haven’t had one yet!?

  2. Summer has indeed been disappointing! At least now I know it’s not just Christchurch, and I’m not the only one who feels soup-inclined.

    Miso *and* sesame in cookies is pretty gosh darn brilliant! These give me that salted caramel vibe. Also I can imagine honey in these cookies would also elevate them – I am very fond of miso honey dip for carrot sticks :) Thanks for this original deliciousness!

  3. Now those are some seriously good looking cookies! Miso = Awesome. Happy Blogiversary! It sounds like we chose a good year to move to Aussie? ;-) All the best xx

  4. Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your inspiring food adventures.

    I totally sympathize about the summer let down. I’m in my ugg boots right now, and there have only been a handful of days I haven’t worn them over the past few months, and used tights, thick socks, hot water bottle, sweaters… you name it. But if it’s any consolation, there are some gorgeous big paper lanterns forming on the tomatillo plants, and I am certain there will be a harvest some time in late March or April. There will be a bag of tomatillos as a birthday gift from my blog to yours!

  5. I totally feel the same way about summer – being in Wellington as well. Summer’s been 2 to 3 days max of nice weather and then plunges into cold borderline wintery temperatures. Same cycle over and over since Dec. I feel quite cheated! But when all is said and done, it’s Welly we live in. And just by that sheer fact, it’s gotta be good. :-)

    Miso cookies! Totally reminds me of a certain type of Chinese New Year cookies – all salty and sweet at the same time. Plus sesame seeds. Yuuummo!

    Happy Blogiversary! :-) x

    • Yes, at least Wellington has plenty going on to distract us from the fact that it’s not really summer… and when it does get nice out we appreciate it all the more! Right? ;)

      Plus now I have Little Penang I don’t really care what season it is ;)

  6. Stupid Wellington! At least the city itself goes some way to make up for the lack of proper sunshine.

    Congrats on one year in – hope to see many more years of writing from you.

    I love how golden and crisp the cookies look. Miso is just one of my favourite flavours, I love stirring it into everything – and it has got to the point where cookies with it in sound like perfection to me, especially with sesame seeds :D

  7. I like the idea of miso cookies, after all miso is such a great ingredient :-). Pity about the Summer, I was lucky to be away for 7 weeks, missed the lot, but here in Auckland at present the weather is not too bad, I mean, it is strangely cold in the evenings for me, but the sun is shining. And of course the kids are back at school! A bit unfair really!

    • I think you missed the wettest/weirdest of summer in Auckland, from the sounds of it. But yes, unfair for the kids who have to be back at school during the best part of summer I reckon!

  8. Ps
    happy blogversary!!!

  9. Hugs re weather, we’ve had it pretty good up here in Auckland – I’ve hardly had to use a jacket really! And I am even almost brown! On a sunnier note, happy bloggy birthday – and I’ve been wondering what to do with the miso paste in my fridge, so this is EXCELLENT and I look forward to trying it really soon. :D

    • Ahh, you’re killing me! Hehe, I’m not so sad about it now that we’ve had a couple days of sun. I’m easily pleased, it appears ;)

      • Heheh, Wellington is cunning – she puts on more crappy days so she gets double the love when she lets the sun out of its cage! ;-)

        I made your cookies (bar one substitution – cashews for sesame seeds since I had those in my pantry) – I am going to hang on to this recipe + make them again with sesame seeds sometime soon. Thank you! x

  10. […] – Sesame-miso cookies and a year of this thing. A very sweet post with some funky looking […]

  11. Reblogged this on d'liteful cravings and commented:

  12. Happy blogoversary – it’s been a pleasure being in your on-line company! As always you’ve come up with a wonderfully different take on a recipe.

  13. […] Mika mentioned at Milliemirepoix, New Zealand summer so far has been a bit disappointing. Without warm weather, I can’t […]

  14. Love the combination of sesame and miso! Happy 1st birthday, hasn’t it flown by.

  15. Love these, how inspiring is the Lucky Peach?? Hopefully not too long until the next issue! And Happy First Birthday,,,,how fast has that gone?

  16. […] want to say that I like these cookies* very […]

  17. These look amazing! I never would have thought of miso in a cookie, but if you can have black beans in a brownie, why the hell not! Happy blog birthday – and let’s hope we have a mild autumn to cheer ourselves up after no summer x

  18. […] even more by replacing the salt with miso paste (sounds crazy, but it was a revelation I got from MillieMirepoix…have been sneaking it into cookies ever since!). I also added some bashed walnuts & […]

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