Sesame Miso Cookies
This might be getting old, but yes I made a miso thing. Again.
Really, miso paste may as well be called magic paste, because like an Accio spell or Doctor Strange’s Eye of Agamotto, it’s infinitely useful and just works on everything. And for me at least, it always manages to conjure up some dusty childhood memory, or parallels in palate to something I ate months or years ago.
When I put miso in pasta, it became a savoury, silky carbonara (albeit with a lot more funk). And I don’t mean a typical Italian carbonara. Oh no, miso pasta reminds me of those creamy carbonaras you can only get in Malaysia and other previously colonialised parts of Asia, a clear middle finger to the Italian original. It’s got lots of cream and mushrooms slithering about overcooked strands of pasta, and not a fat-drip of guanciale or bacon in sight (mainly because we cheap af). It’s potentially just as good as the original, though admitting that could cost you your culinary chops. (Oops.)
When I put miso in banana bread, it brings me back to when I first had guava with powdered asam (the Malay word for tamarind), sold by the Indian uncle on his motorbike right outside my primary school gates. I would chow down on it quick, and use those little wooden skewers they’d come in for my pretend sword fights with friends, lugging around our unethically-heavy school bags as shields. That combination of sweet, just-ripe fruit, and the umami-sour from the salted tamarind powder would set off puckery little fireworks in my mouth, just like the combination of sweet, syrupy bananas and salty, savoury miso did a few months back.
This time around, I put miso in a cookie. On first bite, it reminded me of this crackly, heavily spiced Chinese biscuit I had as a kid. They taste a little like gingersnaps, but is dryer and wafer thin, with a almost Christmas-sy hit of five spice, and possibly prawns too..? See, I can’t for the life of me remember what goes in it; all I remember is how it tastes, how it feels, how it snaps and crumbles in my hands. And I definitely don’t remember its name; I suspect it has one of those colourful but forgettable Cantonese names like hup tou sou or ham jim peng. (Though it is neither of those, I checked.) But I liked those cookies then, just like how I love these miso cookies now.
So with a little aesthetic inspiration from Mokonuts Café’s sesame cookies, and a sprinkle of Lebowitzian wisdom—Davd Lebowitz gave Moko the tip to indent her cookies to give it that crackled texture)—here’s the recipe for miso cookies.
P.S. Thank you miso, for bringing miso much nostalgia.
Sesame Miso Cookies
(Inspired by those cute cookies at Mokonuts Cafe)
Makes 1 dozen cookies
150g butter, softened at room temperature
80g miso paste (I use a combination of white miso (60g) and red miso (20g))
80g caster sugar
80g brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5g) vanilla extract
230g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
50g sesame seeds
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, miso paste, caster sugar, and brown sugar until a smooth and fluffy butter cloud forms. This’ll take 3-5 minutes on medium-high speed (or more if your butter is cold out of the fridge). Add in the egg and vanilla extract into the creamed butter and beat it for a minute until it’s well-incorporated.
Meanwhile, add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and give it a quick stir to evenly distribute the baking powder and soda. Then, add these dry ingredients into the mixer, and mix for 10-15 seconds, until no clumps of flour remain.
Keep the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or for up to a day. This allows the flavours to meld a little more, and allows for the flour to be evenly hydrated.
When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 180°C. Then, pour the sesame seeds onto a tray and roast it for 10 minutes, until it turns the lightest blush of brown. (Don’t overdo it as they will be baked again later, with the cookie.) When the sesame seeds are toasted, take it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, separate your cookie dough into 55g portions, and roughly shape them into thick, hockey puck-like discs. Keep the dough discs in the freezer for 10-15 minutes for it to firm up. When the sesame seeds are cool to touch, take out your dough discs and roll the individual cookie dough in the sesame seeds, one at a time, until each dough disc is fully covered with sesame seeds.
Place the sesame-covered dough discs on a lined baking tray, at least 4-inches apart, and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Around the 12 minute mark, using a spatula or a pestle, gently press down the middle of the cookie so a slight indent forms, then continue baking until it’s done. Once the cookies are baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
They’re best had slightly warm, but fares well for 3-5 days in an airtight container.