These cookies have been a southern favorite for over a hundred years. You will find these delicious Benne
Wafers in candy shops and stands throughout the Low Country (the coastal area around Charleston, SC) of the South.
These delicate cookies are light, crisp, and paper thin with a delightful nutty taste. You have to be careful, because we are very addictive!
West African slaves introduced sesame seeds to America in the 17th century.
Benne is the Nigerian name for sesame seeds. According to legend, the benne wafer should be eaten for good luck.
I slightly adapted this recipe from the cookbook Americas Best Lost Recipes, by The Editors of Cook's Country Magazine.
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Benne Wafer Cookie Recipe
Yields: about 35 cookies
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 9 min
1/2 cup all-purpose
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup
Sesame Seeds, toasted*
* Toasting Sesame
Seeds - Heat the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium-low heat, or
on a baking sheet in a 275 degree F. oven, until golden and fragrant,
approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully so the seeds do not burn.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpad.
In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
With an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy, approximately 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the egg
and vanilla extract until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Fold in the cooled toasted sesame seeds.
Drop heaping teaspoon-sized portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart (this is important as the cookies will spread).
Bake until the tops of the cookies bubble and the edges turn deep brown, approximately 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool
on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. As these are paper-thin cookies, this allows the cookies to finish baking from the residual heat of the baking
sheet, as well as letting them set up enough so that they don't fall apart when transferred. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool
completely, about 15 minutes.
The cookies may be stored in an airtight container.
Makes 35 cookies.