I have cake head. It’s like bed head, except bed head is a huge bald spot flanked by two cowlicks and accompanied by a sleepy look in the eye whereas cake head is a crazed look in the eye flanked by crumb-filled hair and accompanied by the permanent aroma of vanilla. The cure is not a shower, but the end of a wedding reception to be held in less than three months.
Cake head is the cause of this poor blog’s suffering. I made paella and forgot to take pictures. My aversion to beets ended and I failed to document the drama. I fell hard for salt caramels (better late than never) and haven’t even attempted to write a love sonnet. There are already 67 cups of assorted buttercreams in the freezer, and that’s only half of what I need. Why oh why did I decide on four-layer cakes? Why?
Well I decided to make something sweet that didn’t involve buttercream, fondant, or the oven. Call this the hack’s sesame seed candy. Sesame seed candy/cookies are often sold in packages at Korean grocers. They’re usually unacceptably hard and flavorless once you’ve had the chewy nuttiness of homemade candy. One of the most beautiful versions is a spiral. That requires that you boil a sugar syrup and roll out scalding layers of white and black sesame seeds into thin sheets that are stacked on top of each other, rolled, and sliced. I’ve done it. The pain. Oh the pain.
But I was in the mood for sesame candy and suddenly remembered my mom’s easy method. She often made Rice Krispie Treats when I was a kid. One day, in a rare stroke of kitchen genius, she decided not to add Rice Krispies. Surprise! Sesame seeds!
STICKY SESAME SEED CHEWIES
Makes one 9×13 sheet
Black sesame seeds turn bitter when toasted, which is why they are not toasted here. This recipe produces a barely sweet, fairly stiff candy similar to packaged Korean sesame seed candy but is not hard and crunchy. For a sweeter, softer candy, reduce the amount of sesame seeds used. Add more salt if you like a salty kick.
· 3 1/2 cups white sesame seeds
· 4 Tablespoons butter
· 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
· 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1 10.5-ounce bag of mini-marshmallows
· 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
· Corn syrup, cane syrup, and/or honey as desired, optional
1) Grease a 9×13-inch pan or dish with butter or construct a sling of parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil and place it in the pan. Grease the bottom of a flat measuring cup or a spoon to smooth the chewies later.
2) Toast the white sesame seeds in a large pan set over medium heat. Stir and toss seeds constantly until they darken a shade or two and smell nutty. Some seeds may pop. Pour the seeds into a heatproof bowl.
3) Melt the butter in the hot pan over medium low heat. When almost fully melted, add the salt, vanilla, and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows are almost fully melted.
4) Add the warm white sesame seeds and the untoasted black sesame seeds to the marshmallows and stir until fully blended. Working quickly, scrape the mixture out into the prepared pan. Press the seeds into a flat layer using the prepared greased measuring cup or spoon.
5) When the sesame seeds have set solid but are still warm and pliable, cut into desired sizes. Leave plain or, if desired, brush with corn syrup for a bit of extra sweetness. Brush with honey for lots of extra sweetness. (I used half a cup of dark corn syrup spiked with a generous drizzle of honey.)
6) Eat. Be careful if you have dental work.