I suppose my first encounter with sesame seeds is fairly commonplace in the Western world - as a scant sprinkling on the top of some sort of bread but in other parts of the world Sesame seeds have a much more important culinary position.
Sicily is rightfully known for its wonderful sweets - torrone being one of its more popular exports but there's a dish called Cubbaita which pre-dates it and some say is the inspiration for torrone. Brought into Sicily by the Saracens, it's a simple combination of honey, sugar, sesame seeds and cinnamon which is cooked to form a toffee like sweet.
When it comes to all things sweet and Sicilian, then Victoria Granof's Sweet Sicily is my go-to book. I have tweaked her recipe a little (I've eliminated the almonds) and modified the method but the largest change is textural - it's only cooked to about 120° rather than 160° as I prefer sweets that are chewy and more caramel like than hard and brittle.
Sesame Seed Caramels
70 grams sugar
360 grams honey
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
220 grams sesame seeds
Place the sugar, honey, water and cinnamon into a heavy based pot - heat gently until the honey and sugar has melted before adding the sesame seeds.
Bring this to a simmering point and boil until the mixture reaches 120°C on a candy thermometer - do stir the mixture from time to time to ensure even browning of the sesame seeds.
Pour the mixture into a lined rectangular brownie pan and tap the pan on a hard surface to ensure the mixture is evenly spread.
Let this cool until firm but not set and score the surface into 2cm/1 inch rows - this just makes it easier to portion into bite sized pieces when completely set.
If you don't want the bother of cutting, then use silicon cupcake moulds or silicon chocolate moulds and portion out the mixture into each mould. When cool, the sweets will simply pop out.