Recipe for Sesame Peanut Cookies by James Campbell

The pastry chef shares the secret to making a dessert handed down by one of his colleagues when he worked at the Mandarin Oriental in London.


WordsClémence Leleu

Mowie Kay © Ryland Peters & Small

James Campbell promises the reader shortbread cookies with a crunch from the sesame and a gooey texture from the dash of peanut butter they contain. This recipe, published in his book Japanese Pâtisserie, was not one entirely of his own invention. It was shared with him, he freely admits, by Lisa Phillips, a pastry chef who he worked with in the kitchens at the Mandarin Oriental in London. 

Japanese Pâtisserie is a book that James Campbell designed to offer fusion recipes that bring Western classics together with key ingredients in Japanese cuisine. It contains 60 recipes divided into different chapters: small cakes and individual pâtisserie, sweet tarts, large cakes and gâteaux, desserts, cookies, and confectionary and savouries. The recipes feature yuzu, sesame, miso, matcha, and sake.

Makes 20 cookies


250 g butter

150 g caster/granulated sugar

140 g light brown soft sugar

250 g smooth peanut butter

400 g plain flour

22 g baking powder

1 tbsp crushed salted peanuts and 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, mixed together for sprinkling 

2 baking sheets, lined with non-stick baking parchment


Put the butter, caster/granulated sugar, and light brown soft sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together using a handheld electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until the dough comes together. It will have a crumbly, short texture. 

Roll out the dough between two sheets of non-stick baking parchment to roughly the size of the baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of paper and lightly sprinkle the dough with the mixture of crushed peanuts and white sesame seeds. Transfer the dough to the freezer between the two sheets of non-stick baking parchment to firm up—this will make it easier to cut. 

Preheat the oven to 170°C (350)/Gas 4.

Use a sharp knife and a ruler to cut the chilled dough into 7-cm squares; any excess dough can be mixed together and rolled out again. 

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 8–13 minutes until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Japanese Pâtisserie (2017), a recipe book by James Campbell, is published by Ryland Peters & Small.

James Campbell has worked as a pastry chef in various Michelin starred restaurants such as Gary Rhodes’ Rhodes in the Square and the Mandarin Oriental in London. Since 2013, he has been Product Development Manager for desserts at Marks & Spencer, and it was through this position that he discovered Japan and acquired a passion for its culinary culture. In 2015, James Campbell was a semi-finalist on the BBC series Bake Off: Crème de la Crème.

Japanese Patisserie by James Campbell, published by Ryland Peters & Small - Mowie Kay © Ryland Peters & Small