In DIY attempts to mimic packaged goods, it often comes down to the shape of things. Cookie cutter defines mass production. When a homemade version of this sort of food is even a bit off visually, it can ruin the illusion—no matter how good it is, the look may beat out the taste in the rush to judgement.
Maybe it's just me, but that's where I sometimes find myself getting frustrated in the kitchen. I feel an imaginary Tim Gunn peering over my shoulder, his exasperated voice urging me to pull it together, make it work, and get it in the oven already, even though my efforts have only produced a cheap imitation. And that's where I stood with these sesame sticks. Those traditional snakes of seed-flecked dough confounded me. Could I use a dough thin enough to push through a wide pastry tip and still get the taste I wanted? I could not. Could I use the dough I preferred for taste and just cut it into small rectangles? I could, but something was missing. It felt more like eating very small crackers than the customary bulk-bin treat.
So I picked up a small piece of dough and rolled it briskly between my palms a couple times. Et, voila! A small snake of a sesame stick. That said, by the end of rolling the batch, I was seriously questioning this added-labor decision just to get the visual. Next time, I might just roll the dough out a little thicker, cut the strips narrow, and call that shape...well, close enough for homemade.
Requiring no fancy equipment, this recipe couldn't be easier—just toss the ingredients into a bowl and stir up the dough. In this way, the cook also controls the type and amount of fats and seasonings that end up in the finished product, so you can really have some fun with it. Still, in my house sesame sticks are an occasional snacking treat, not a weekly staple, and simply pulling down the bar on the bulk bin of Cajun Hot Sticks—even if I have no idea how long they have been sitting in there—will remain a tempting option.
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About the author: Molly Sheridan feels about mason jars the way most women feel about shoes. A music journalist by day, she traces her love of weekend DIY kitchen projects back to the science experiments she ran with her dad as a kid. She is the author of Wonderland Kitchen and tweetledees @WonderlandK.