My love affair with Southern food continues with these little treats, something which I have only ever seen in Charleston S.C. These are crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle with lots of rich sesame flavour. They’re like sesame snaps without the annoying way that they always get stuck in your teeth. Appropriately enough benne wafers date back to colonial times and they seem to be pretty unique to the Low Country area of South Carolina, so if you’ve never had the chance to try them you really need to go and bake a batch.
I warn you though, this recipe is super-quick and easy to make, produces a ton of the little suckers and they’re crazy-addictive. I mean seriously, try to eat just one. I bet you can’t.
In case your were wondering benne is just another name for sesame. It’s said that eating them will bring good luck, so I should probably go and buy myself a lottery ticket with the number that I’ve eaten whilst writing this post alone.
I’ve resisted the urge to play around with the recipe on this one although I have made a chocolate version too, which are also really, really good and just as addictive.
Toast the sesame seeds before you start in a dry pan over a moderate heat. Keep them moving as they can burn very easily.
makes about 40, depending on size
150g soft light brown sugar
big pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
50g toasted sesame seeds
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and line a couple of very large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicon sheets.
Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla in a mixing bowl and then beat in the egg.
Add the flour and baking powder and then beat again until well combined. Finally mix through the sesame seeds.
Drop teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure that they are spaced well apart as they do spread.
Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes, until they spread out and become crisp and golden around the edges. Leave them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then use a pallet knife to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chocolate benne wafers
Use the same ingredients and method as above but lose the vanilla and add 20g extra butter, 20g of cocoa along with the flour and 1 scant tbsp of water at the end. The chocolate version only needs a little tweeking, just to add a bit of extra moisture to compensate for the cocoa.