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baking American, Low Country, Southern
Benne Wafers

Photo by: Joseph DeLeo
Comments: 0


Type: Drop cookies

Habitat: United States

Description: These translucent, crunchy, brown sugary cookies are almost impossibly delicate looking, but are actually very easy to make. The batter comes together in one bowl and is stirred together by hand in less than 5 minutes. It features sesame seeds, which add a pretty look and subtle nutty taste. Make sure to drop them by the ¼ teaspoon because they really spread. These must be stored in an airtight container to retain their crispness. Don’t be put off by the large yield; folks eat these by the half-dozen.

Yield: 120 cookies


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt



1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and coat lightly with nonstick spray.

2. Beat the butter in a medium-size bowl with a wooden spoon. Add brown sugar, and stir vigorously to combine, Beat in egg until combined. Add sesame seeds, flour, vanilla, and salt, and stir until combined. Drop onto cookie sheets by ¼ teaspoonfuls at least 2 inches apart.

3. Bake until medium golden brown, about 7 minutes. They will have spread to about 1½ inches in diameter and have become crisp around the edges, although the golden brown color, will be uniform over the whole cookie. They will firm up upon cooling, however, and will still be soft in the middle even when fully cooked. Place sheets on racks and let cookies cool.


Field Notes: This recipe was given to me by my friend Christopher Rivers, whose paternal grandmother passed down the recipe, written in her own hand; he and his mom have made adjustments over the years. Sesame seeds are called “benne” seeds in the South Carolina low country (the coastal area around Charleston). They were brought over by slaves from West Africa and, at least according to local tradition, were thought by them to bring good luck, hence their use in cooking.

Lifespan: 2 weeks at room temperature in airtight container

© 2003 Dede Wilson

Note from Cookstr's Editors

Nutritional information is based on a serving size of 2 cookies.


Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

25kcal (1%)
15mg (2%)
0mg (0%)
3mcg RAE (0%)
4mg (1%)
0g (1%)
1g (1%)
12mg (1%)
0mg (1%)

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