Lately, I have been on a cookie baking spree. The Coconut Oat Cookies I made were a disappointment - too soft of a cookie. I needed to bake again to get over my failure. On to Benne Seed Wafers!
Benne Seed Wafers are a Charleston thing. Enslaved Africans brought over the benne, or sesame, seed with them and planted it in their gardens. The toasted seeds of the plants were incorporated with butter, sugar and flour to make sweet, nutty, buttery, crisp cookies. I discovered them in the 1980’s for sale by the local ladies in the Market of Charleston. From then on, every trip to Charleston required a small bag of Benne Seed Wafers. These would be the perfect cookie to get me over that soft coconut disappointment.
I have been squirreling away recipes for Benne Seed Wafers for quite some time ( i.e., years). Which one to use? The Lee brothers from Charleston have a great recipe in their cookbook, Charleston Kitchen. Their recipe has more sugar and less flour which gives you more of a candy like cookie. It would be perfect to recreate the Benne Seed Basket that a local restaurant used to have on their menu. It wasn’t the cookie I was craving, so I had to look further. The Lee brothers based their recipe on an early recipe in Charleston Receipts; a cookbook from the 1950’s. I grew up with Charleston Receipts and grabbed my copy. It offered three recipes for Benne Seed Cookies. I picked a recipe and preheated the oven!
¾ cup butter 1 ¼ cup flour
1 ½ cup of brown sugar ½ cup sesame seed toasted
2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp baking powder
Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients, in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon on parchment paper in pan far enough apart to allow spreading. Bake at 325 for 7 minutes.
The cookies are difficult to make and definitely require some skill. I had tried these many years ago when I was a less patient baker and ended up wearing most of the batter. This time, I was better prepared with the right equipment (parchment paper) and a better attitude (more patient - much more patient).
The Benne Seed Wafers are a big hit! I have eaten myself silly and my husband has called a moratorium on cookies for awhile. I think this recipe is the one I’ve searched for and with a little tweaking and more experience baking them, they will be perfect!