Gomashio Cookies

gomashio_cookies.jpg

You may eat a healthy bento lunch, but what when you get hungry in-between meals? You could eat some fruit or something, but you may want something a bit more substantial yet easy to transport without succumbing to the lure of Krispy Kreme donuts or a bag of potato chips. These not-sweet cookies are one option.

These dense, shortbread like cookies are not sweet - they are indeed a bit salty, from the gomashio (sesame salt). They are very filling ‘in-between’ snacks, clocking in at around 80 calories each. They are sort of homemade, not-sweet versions of Calorie Mate Block (see Notes) - they’re just as filling with none of the artificial vitamins or sugar, and are loaded with the goodness of sesame. If you like sesame, you will love these.

I’ve made them in three variations. One is made with white flour and butter, and is arguably the tastiest but least nutritious. The second is made with whole wheat flour, olive oil and sesame oil, and rivals the white flour one in taste - but is a bit crumbly. The third is a gluten-free, vegan version that uses chickpea (gram) flour, tahini and sesame oil. It is quite firm and tasty, and definitely the most nutritious, but may not be to everyone’s liking.

Gomashio cookie version 1: Butter and flour

This is adapted from a Japanese cookbook called クッキーがいっぱい! (Kukkee ga ippai - Lots of Cookies). In the book it’s represented as a ‘healthy cookie’. It’s not that healthy, but the gomashio does save it from being totally nutrionally deficient. And, at least according to the local taste testers, it is the best tasting one of the three.

This amount makes 12 cookies, about 80 calories each.

  • 50g / 1.75 oz. butter
  • 2 heaping tablespoons (about 20g) gomashio
  • 100g / 3.5 oz plain all purpose flour
  • 2-4 Tbs. (or more) milk or soymilk

The procedure for making all of the cookies is the same.

Cream the butter (putting it in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and smooshing it around in your hands is the easiest way). Add the sesame seeds and mix in well.

Add the flour, and rub in well until the mixture is crumbly. Add the milk little by little until you get a ball of dough that just about holds together.

Put the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form into a block. Wrap the plastic film around the block, and straighten out the sides of the block so it’s a neat rectangle. It should look like this (this is actually a block of Variation no. 3, but you get the idea):

gomashio_cookie_block.jpg

Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until firm.

Heat up the oven to 180°C / 360°F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment paper or a non-stick silicon sheet.

Slice the dough block into 12 equal slices. Bake for 15-20 minutes until firm and lightly browned.

Variation: Add 2 Tbs. of grated cheese to the dough.

Gomashio cookie version 2: Whole wheat and sesame oil (vegan if you use soymilk)

Makes 12 cookies, about 85 calories each. This version came in a close second in taste tests.

  • 50g / 1.75 oz. olive oil and sesame oil combined (about half and half)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons (about 20g) gomashio
  • 100g / 3.5 oz whole wheat flour
  • 2-4 Tbs. (or more) milk or soymilk

The procedure is the same as for the flour and butter version, except that there is no need to cream the oil of course. You may need a bit more milk or soymilk to bind the dough.

Gomashio cookie version 3: Chickpea flour and sesame oil (gluten-free, vegan)

Makes 12 cookies, about 85 calories each. This version was pronounced ‘interesting and curiously addictive’ by taste testers.

  • 30g / 1.05 oz tahini
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons (about 20g) gomashio
  • 100g / 3.5 oz chickpea flour (gram flour)
  • 2-4 Tbs. (or more) soymilk

Again, the procedure is the same as for the other versions. This one needs more liquid (soymilk) than the others - just keep adding lin little dribbles until the dough holds together. You may want to add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to this one, since the tahini can be a bit bitter.

These cookies can be crumbly, so carry them in a small bento box. They keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container, so you could even stash them in a locker.

Notes: About Calorie Mate

Calorie Mate Block is a Japanese meal replacement bar, that looks and tastes like a small block of shortbread. When I was in high school, I used to eat Calorie Mate Block as an emergency snack quite a bit. They come in individually sealed foil packs, and are ‘only’ 100 calories each. They are small and handy to carry around, and really hit the spot when I was up late studying for exams. (It’s the fate of Japanese students to study long, long hours for exams.)

A few weeks ago, I spotted some Calorie Mate Block at our local Japanese grocery store, and bought it in a fit of nostalgia. I don’t know…it doesn’t taste nearly as good as I remember. But, it is just as filling.

Here’s Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer from 24, in a commercial for Calorie Mate.

If you’re curious about how Calorie Mate Block tastes, and can’t get it locally, you can buy it from J-List. There are also Gel and canned drink versions of Calorie Mate…but we won’t go there.

For more bento recipes, ideas and tips, subscribe to Just Bento via your newsreader or by email (more about subscriptions).

And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

15 comments

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That commercial is

That commercial is hysterical! “Ma-chan, what the hell are you eating?!”

Yum, sesame treats! :D By

Yum, sesame treats! :D By the way, Calorie Mate is also reasonably popular among gamers, due mainly to the fact that it’s the staple food of the notoriously awesome Snake of Metal Gear Solid. I used to eat it back when I was in high school in Japan too… but that’s because I was a serial dieter, rather than a serious student, heh.

ahaha the commercial…

ahaha the commercial… excellent. I made the reflexion several times that we almost never see the guy eat (or go to the lady’s room ahah)

Do you think these could be

Do you think these could be made thinner, like a cracker? Or maybe crumbled into a crust for a savoury pie? I’m imagining all kinds of fun uses just looking at them.

The consistency is too

The consistency is too crumbly to make them much thinner, though the gluten-free version is a bit firmer. As a crust for a savory pie could work! Very interesting idea :)

I'm glad you think so!

Pie crust is one of my worst culinary fears. Sometimes I want to make pies or tarts, but I won’t buy pre-made pie crusts (trans fats), and the degree of precision required for pastry crust scares me off. So I’m always wondering about shortcuts, and I think this one would be great — especially as winter looms.

I'll try them this weekend

I can’t wait to start baking! :-D

My Favourite Japanese will have a nice surprise packed next to his obento next week!
Thank you Maki, you are my hero!

Thanks!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the GF version of this recipe. I made it tonight and it was wonderful!!! So nice to have a snack-like cookie that I CAN eat. ;)

I just can't seem to follow recipes

Hi Maki, Great one - the GF version. I made some yesterday, and with the Better Half being diabetic didn’t want to put in huge amounts of sugar, so I substituted some of the milk with mirin. Worked a treat. :) Man, they are filling - one totally does the trick for me. The Better Half’s comment went somewhere along the lines ‘a bit neutral’ but that didn’t stop him from finishing 6 of them already… Hehe. Next time around I’ll add a bit of Bengali panchporan (five-spice mixture) for a bit variety of taste, I think. Will let you know the results. Have to go now to complete my first batch of crunchy chickpeas. It’s so great to have energy for new cooking ideas again! Cheers, Rebecca :)

sun dried tomatoes work too!

Maki! you are my food super-hero! I made these but ended up using some other furikake mix I had in the house (dry shiso was one of the ingredients…I’ll have to ask my husband for a translation)…we loved them! then, being italian, I decided to try something else: no furikake, but finely chopped sun dried tomatoes, oregano and a pinch of salt. WOW. rosemary, nutmeg and salt went in my third batch. my 2 year old daughter loves to smoosh the bag!! I also substituted half of the butter with ricotta cheese…not as crunchy as the full-butter version, but really tasty. if only I had read your posts about home-made furikake before our trip to Japan! I went a bit wild and ended up with haf suitcase full of the stuff (small suitcase, don’t worry)…I can now make tasty snacks! thanks again for this idea!

I was so excited to try this

I was so excited to try this recipe, that I decided to make chickpea flour instead of buying it. I followed directions on another site for making chickpea flour (very easy actually, just throw dried chickpeas in the food processor). I’ve never heard such an awful loud noise in my life, I think I nearly burst my eardrums! I guess I have to wait until the weekend to go the foreign food mart!

Re: Gomashio Cookies

XD the commercial made laugh until I cried *lol*
but the cookies are so delicious!! o.o at first I was sceptical (cookies without sugar and lots of salt), but they taste SO great! :D I made the dough into a roll-shape before I put it into the fridge and then cut it into about 20 even pieces which I pushed down a bit on the baking sheet to make some thinner cookies :) yum yum!

Re: Gomashio Cookies

I made the chickpea version ... first attempt they looked like long cheese straws as I didn't want to wait for the dough to set in the fridge so I couldn't cut the slices cleanly... No. 1 tip, don't skip the putting the dough in the fridge! Second attempt I doubled the ingredients and it made a nice big block of dough which I could cut very nice and thinly and the crackers came out great.

Re: Gomashio Cookies

Oh my... I didn't resist the sugar craving and I actually made sweet sesame cookies instead ! Not as nutritious but I love sesame sweets so much...
I used toasted sesame instead of gomashio, and added 1 tbsp of unrefined raw cane sugar to the dough. I made the white flour + sesame oil version and had a bit of a hard time slicing the block of dough as it was rather crumbly, even after over 1 hour of refrigerator time... I re-shaped the cookies by pressing them against the baking sheet. They're in the oven now, and smell DELICIOUS ! I'll let you all know how it turns out. Thanks for this recipe, Maki, justbento and justhungry are among my favorite websites ever !

Re: Gomashio Cookies

I'm absolutely positive these will save my life many times sitting at a bus stop after a 9-hour work day in the future! Can't wait to get my hands on some raw sesame to make gomashio!

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