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Benne Seed Wafers

What is a Benne Seed?

Benne (pronounced benny) seeds are the heirloom seeds of modern-day sesame seeds and are native to Africa. In many places, they are called sesame seeds, but in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina, they are known as benne seeds.

Sesame Seed Cookies

My love for cookies with sesame seeds began years ago with Greek Koulourakia (pronounced ku-LU-ra-KA) butter cookies. I didn’t have another cookie with sesame seeds until years later when I ate a benne seed wafer in Charleston, South Carolina, and rekindled my love of cookies with sesame seeds.

Why Toast Sesame Seeds?

My understanding is that benne seeds are more flavorful than modern-day sesame seeds. However, modern-day sesame seeds have been cultivated to contain more oil than heirloom benne seeds. With the increase in oil, there was a decrease in flavor — and that is where toasting sesame seeds comes in to enhance their flavor.

You can place sesame seeds in a heated skillet (I used a nonstick one) and stir them for a few minutes. They will toast easily and have a more robust and nutty flavor.

Making Cookies

This recipe for sesame seed cookies makes very crunchy cookies that are rolled into balls and then flattened for baking. After toasting the sesame seeds, mix them into the cookie dough. Then chill it so that it is easier to work with. Make small (1/2-inch) balls by rolling them between your palms. These cookies don’t spread so you can place them closer together than most cookies.

Use a rolling pin or a glass with a flat bottom to flatten the balls.

These cookies bake in about 10 minutes and have a crunchy snap to them. The recipe makes a lot of cookies if you roll small balls, so if you are short on baking time, make them a little larger. They will still bake in the same amount of time and you won’t be baking cookies for hours. However, the small size of the cookies is part of their appeal because you can make a lot for freezing and eating later and also have plenty for sharing.

But trust me, it is hard to eat just one of these cookies! So maybe if you are going to eat several, it is better that they are small!

Print Recipe
Benne Seed Wafers
Small crunchy cookies with toasted sesame seeds
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, toast the sesame seeds for 3-5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often until lightly brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and cream together.
  3. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and sesame seeds.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well mixed. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Roll the dough into 1/2-inch balls. Press flat with a rolling pin or hand. Place on a cooking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes

This recipe makes about (60)  1 1/2-inch cookies.

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