Black Sesame Rainbow Crinkle Cookies
As seen on Hulu's baking competition show Baker's Dozen Season 1, Episode 5
I made these Black Sesame Rainbow Crinkle Cookies in the style of Depressed Cake Shop which brings awareness to mental health. These cookies are a reminder that no matter how sad, depressed, or lonely you feel, dark days don’t last forever and there’s always a rainbow inside you.
The Depressed Cake Shop™ is a unique (and delicious) platform designed to raise awareness of mental health challenges by encouraging pop-ups and bake sales across the U.S. The wildly popular Jeni’s Ice Cream even created a special flavor for the Depressed Cake Shop -- Sunshine, tastes like sunshine on a cloudy day.
“One in four people will suffer from, or be touched by, a mental health issue at some point in their lives. The stigma that is still attached leads to loneliness and misunderstanding. It is often difficult to find a community of like minded people.”
- Depressed Cake Shop
Two Rainbow Cookie Decoration Styles
Rainbows on the Inside Crinkle Cookie - with rainbow jimmy sprinkles inside the cookie to remind us that when gray clouds descend on our lives, the rainbows and sunshine will come again.
Rainbows on the Outside Cookie - with rainbow nonpareils on the outside as a reminder that even though someone looks bright, cheery and full of rainbows on the outside it can be hard to see the gray cloud of depression underneath.
A Personal Story About My Friend Paco
My friend Paco Ramirez was a “rainbows on the outside” kind of guy. He suffered from depression and sadly took his own life 2 years ago. This week is the anniversary of his death and I made these cookies to honor him. We’ve been friends since we were 16-years-old and I only noticed the rainbow-covered Paco. He was enthusiastic, cheery, fun-loving, full of character and had a wicked self-deprecating style of humor. One month before, we talked on the phone and he had a lot on his mind that weighed heavy on his shoulders. I had no idea the darkness inside was that bad or that he suffered from depression. Three months earlier we were celebrating and dancing at his wedding to the love of his life. 6 months earlier I had visited him for a week to just hang out and catch up. He seemed not his usual self but he was focused on work.
In hindsight there were likely numerous signs and I didn’t know how to see past the rainbow sprinkles. I wish that I had known, or was at least more aware so I could have encouraged him to seek help sooner. My world is a dimmer place without Paco in it. The irony is that he was the better writer amongst the two of us. He wrote a blog to share his musings long before I started Baking With Chickens. I would have asked him to edit this post, just like he used to ask me to critique his writing when he dreamed of becoming a writer like Cervantes or Hemingway.
Talking About Mental Health
In my Chinese family, we don’t talk about mental health, wellness, depression, loneliness, or anxiety. It’s not that we don’t know it exists, I just didn’t grow up with any acknowledgement of these feelings. Going to see a therapist implied that there was something wrong. God forbid anyone outside the family knows that will bring shame or embarrassment. We’re a secretive, stiff-upper-lip kind of bunch. But that’s not healthy and we owe it to ourselves and work through these feelings to act differently than the generation before us. Today it is not so taboo as it once was. We talk about mental health more more openly and have easier access to help and resources.
Asian-Americans are 3 times less likely to seek mental health services than white Caucasians. Why is that? Here’s a great article on NAMI.org that explains the stigmas and reasons “Why Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders Don’t Go To Therapy.”
If you’re struggling please ask for help. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great place to start to find support in your local area.
BAKE FOR A CAUSE
During the month of May 2021, Depressed Cake Shop is hosting world’s biggest Depressed Cake Shop virtual bake sale and fundraiser. Find out how to participate here!
Make these cookies, or make something else! Bake a batch for a friend, or for yourself because baking is therapeutic.
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Black Sesame Seeds can be purchased online or at any Asian grocery store
Get the Recipe
Black Sesame Rainbow Crinkle Cookies
Gray crinkle cookies with rainbow sprinkles and flavored with black sesame seeds have a sweet, nutty flavor. Made in the style of the Depressed Cake Shop to raise awareness for mental health, these cookies are a reminder that dark days aren’t forever and that there’s a rainbow inside of you. A Baking With Chickens Original Recipe
Time to Prepare: 30 minutes (plus 3-4 hour chill time)
Makes 21 cookies
Note: This recipe makes two types of cookies - half the batch will be crinkle cookies with rainbow jimmy sprinkles in the batter, the second half will be cookies with rainbow nonpareils on the outside. To make all of the same type of cookie, just double the amount of rainbow sprinkles for the style of cookie you’re making.
1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (150g) black sesame seeds, finely ground
2 teaspoons (9g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
1/4 cup (45g) rainbow jimmy sprinkles (long skinny)
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (50g) powdered sugar
1/4 cup rainbow nonpareils (small round balls)
1. In a medium pan on the stove, lightly toast black sesame seeds in a pan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes to bring out the nutty flavor. In a food processor or coffee grinder, pulverize the black sesame seeds into a coarse powder.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup black sesame seed powder, 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together ½ cup butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the 2 eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix until well blended.
4. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Split the cookie dough in half, put half of the batter in a smaller bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. These will be for the cookies with rainbow nonpareils. In the stand mixer bowl with the second half of the cookie dough, mix in ¼ cup of rainbow jimmy sprinkle by hand with spatula. Cover stand mixer bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate both bowls of cookie dough for 3-4 hours. Refrigerating the dough for a few hours stiffens the cookie dough and makes it easier to scoop into balls and roll in the sugar.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour ½ cup granulated sugar into a small bowl, ½ cup confectioner's sugar into another small bowl , and ¼ cup rainbow nonpareils into another small bowl. Remove both bowls of cookie dough from the refrigerator.
6. RAINBOW NONPAREIL COOKIES: Starting with the small bowl of plain cookie batter (with no added sprinkles), scoop dough into 1½ tablespoon sized balls. Roll each ball in the rainbow nonpareil sprinkles, and smash it slightly flat so it’s like a hockey puck shape. Place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. DO NOT roll in granulated sugar or powdered sugar or the nonpareils won’t stick to the cookie dough.
7. RAINBOW JIMMY CRINKLE COOKIE: Scoop the second cookie dough with the added rainbow sprinkles into 1½ tablespoon sized balls. Roll each ball first in the granulated sugar, then in the powdered sugar (be generous with the powdered sugar, it’ll have a better crinkle when it bakes), and smash it slightly flat so it’s like a hockey puck shape. Place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
8. Bake in the oven for 9-11 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking to evenly bake both sides.
9. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for five minutes, then remove cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in an airtight container.
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