Black Sesame and Strawberry Lemonade Cookie Sandwiches

This recipe is a slight homage to a PB&J sandwich, but in cookie form. I have recently been obsessed with Sanritsu sandwich cookies(imagine two tuiles sandwiching a pleasantly sweet creamy filling), and wanted to try making a rendition of them. Instead of doing a buttercream or ganache, since I had leftover strawberry puree and a couple of fresh lemons lying around, I figured instead, let’s make a strawberry lemon curd. I feel like very few people out there actually dislike strawberry lemonade, and with the brightness and acidity from it, it could pair well with a butter-based cookie. For the cookies themselves, I wanted to go the route of black sesame, since I love black sesame, and the pairing of that with strawberries just felt very peanut butter and jelly-esque, but a little classier. Unlike the Sanritsu cookies, these sandwiches are made using a shortbread dough that is rolled out super thin. With a sandwich, you really need to be mindful of the ratio of filling to “bread”, so I figured, if I rolled out the cookies super thin, then that would be a lot easier to control not only the baking time on these, but also the amount of filling being used per two cookies!

With the dough, we are using a black sesame shortbread dough, which is very similar to an alfajore dough, being made with a little cornstarch for a firmer texture. I am brushing the unbaked cookies with a little egg white, just so that as the cookies bake, the protein from the egg white will provide a lot more structure for the cookies – as they are super thin, these cookies are highly susceptible to cracking in half. Brushing the egg white on top is like a safety blanket to ensure that every cookie being baked will survive the trip from the oven and sheet tray to the assembly line/filling station! If you do not want to use an egg white, you can also mix a little water with cornstarch, and brush that on top instead. It will generally speaking have the same effect as the egg white in this case. What I like about these cookies is that they take very little time to actually bake, because of how thin they are. There is a resting and chilling down period prior to baking the dough itself, which is standard for shortbread, but once you jump through those hoops, the cookies themselves bake in literally less than 10 minutes! The texture is thin, snappy, a little buttery, and it is perfumed with a fragrant, smoky, nutty flavor from the black sesame!

With the filling, I went with a strawberry lemon curd. This component also comes together really quickly, because the majority of the work is getting everything into the blender to puree, and the rest of it is whisking it over the stove until it thickens. Unlike some lemon curd recipes, this specific one has no eggs in it. This was done on purpose since the color of the egg yolk might mar the beautiful red color of the strawberries, and using egg yolks might cause the curd to scramble if left on the stove for too long. Instead, we’re relying strictly on cornstarch here to get the thickening and gelling job done. The cool thing about cornstarch is that anything thickened by it will continue to firm up and thicken while cooling down. That guarantees that you will have a filling that is solid, and therefore not a runny mess that will just seep out the sides of the cookies. Aka the worst thing to happen when making a sandwich cookie. What I adore about this curd is that the lemon lowers the PH level of the strawberry juice, bringing out even more red pigments from the final product! It’s all naturally colored, and it is the end-result of the strawberries and lemons working together! Pair that with sesame, and you have these fun, gothic-looking cookie sandwiches!

Makes about 15-16 cookie sandwiches:
For the black sesame cookies:
35g butter
13g black sesame powder
52g flour
2g cornstarch
36g sugar 
5g water
1 egg white*

In a food processor, combine these ingredients, minus the egg white, together to form your dough. Refrigerate the dough, covered, for 10 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thinly as possible – I went down to 1/8th of a centimeter thick on these. Refrigerate the dough again for 10 minutes before cutting out 1-inch disks. Brush the tops of the cookies with some egg white. This will help give the cookies some structure, so that they won’t break! Bake these disks at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Store in an airtight container before assembling.

For the strawberry-lemon curd:
Juice and zest from 2 lemons
1/4 cup diced fresh strawberries
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Puree everything together in a blender, and pass through a sieve to remove any lumps. In a pot, whisk everything on medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken and cling to the sides of your whisk. Chill down the curd before using.

To assemble:
Place about 1 tsp of curd on one cookie, and press on another to form a sandwich. Repeat with all of your cookies!

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