Today, we're talkin' COOKIES. Traditional, Southern, Lowcountry Benne Wafers to be precise. A cookie that elevates the humble sesame ( benne ) seed into something crisp, toasty, and with a robust flavor, but a delicate vessel. These cookies can be found all over Charleston, and it's time we learned how to make benne wafers at home!
I don't usually buy cookies. If I want a cookie, I'll make it. Given that, I can safely say that I have bought more benne wafers than any other cookie I've ever bought. I LOVE them - a little sweet, with a distinct nuttiness, and a delightful crunch, they are the perfect little after dinner treat.
However, the delicate, crisp texture seemed like something I just wouldn't be able to recreate at home. Then, after I tossed a bag of Benne Seeds ( known as Sesame Seeds to you non-South Carolinians out there ) into my latest order from Anson Mills in order to meet the four-bag minimum, I found myself questioning the difficulty of making this Lowcountry sesame seed cookie.
After all, removing just a tablespoon of benne seeds here and there to garnish random dishes was NOT going to use up the entire bag I had stored in my freezer!
Taking cues from years of recipe testing, plus my own favorite lace cookie recipe ( that I swear I will get up on the blog one of these days! ) I decided to tackle making Benne Wafers myself.
Guys, they were SO easy, and like many things, the homemade ones are so much better than store bought. I don't think I'll ever go back to store bought again!
How should you serve and eat benne wafers?
They can be eaten on their own, paired with a cup of coffee, or you can ruin them with a little chocolate ( please don't tell me if you do this ).
They are divine when made into a refreshing, bite-sized, ice-cream-style sandwich with a dollop of lime sherbet between two wafers.
If you love classic Lowcountry cooking, here are some more recipes you might like:
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds benne seeds
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 cup butter cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Spread the sesame seeds on a cookie sheet ( no lining or greasing necessary ). Toast the sesame seeds in the preheated oven for approximately 8 minutes, or until they become fragrant and just start to brown.
- In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, then mix in the egg, salt, baking soda, and vanilla extract.
- Add the flour, and mix until the mixture is smooth.
- Stir in the toasted sesame seeds.
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop the dough onto the cookie sheets in 1 teaspoon dollops, leaving approximately 1 1/2 inches between each drop to allow the cookies to spread.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Allow to rest on the pan for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.