[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Whenever I'm tired of the same old cookies, I turn not to a cookbook but to my spice rack. It's amazing what a pinch of something savory can do to elevate something sweet. These souped-up shortbread cookies admittedly use more than a "pinch" of herbs, but it's because I'm obsessed with za'atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend.

Because it's a blend, its exact contents will vary by brand, but most contain sesame seeds, sumac, and salt, and marjoram, oregano, and thyme are common additions. It's got a savory, earthy flavor, and a somewhat crunchy texture that makes it popular to put on pita (similar to the Italian-American tradition of sprinkling oregano over pizza.)


I decided to pair za'atar with simple whole wheat sables that are nutty with just a hint of sweetness. The easy dough is mixed together then chilled and sliced. I dipped each cookie in an egg wash and then in the za'atar. The result is a savory, herbal cookie that I like to pair with a glass of white wine as an hors d'oeuvre.

About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios


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