Our good friend Vicki served us these cookies at her home recently, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. They are just about as good as any cookie I have ever had the pleasure of stuffing in my mouth. Apparently West African slaves introduced sesame seeds to America in the 17th century. And for decades now, benne (the Nigerian name for sesame seeds) wafers have been a southern favorite. They are light, crisp, and delightfully flavorful. The flavor actually reminds me of the crisp sesame seed candy my children used to beg me to bring home from the International district when I worked there in the 70s.
So this year in their Christmas goody packages, I wrapped up some of these cookies along with their other favorite Christmas treats. I can’t wait to hear their reactions, because even though they are all grown up, they are still kids at heart when it comes to Christmas cookies. (Who isn’t?) I’m just hoping the benne wafers also remind them of one of their favorite childhood candies. (Christmas is so fun!!!)
So for a delightfully different cookie experience, give these wafer cookies a try. I have served them to several people now, and every person has just loved them.
So thanks again Vicki for another wonderful recipe. And I am so glad you grew up in the South. Having been born and raised in the Seattle area, I had no idea such a cookie existed. But as I have said before, I am really learning to appreciate the fact that our country has such a wealth of dishes that are distinctive to individual regions. And the best way to discover these new dishes, is to either travel to the areas or have a good friend who has lived there. In the case of the latter, it’s the cheaper way to go. But getting out and seeing our beautiful country and experiencing the cuisine first hand is definitely my preference.
So, you get out to the kitchen and bake up a batch of these wafer cookies. I’ll be at my desk planning our next domestic vacation/food destination!
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 c. brown sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¾ c. toasted* sesame seeds
Cream the butter and brown sugar together until very light. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and toasted sesame seeds. Add to the butter mixture and combine thoroughly.
Using a small ice cream scoop, place balls of soft dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake in a pre-heated 325 oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and set. (They will feel and look like they are not quite done, but don’t worry. They will crisp up as they cool.) Remove from oven and let sit for a minute before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, watching carefully. They should be a light golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.