Benne Wafers

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

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.

NotesField 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

120 cookies

Cooking Methodbaking



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, vegetarian


Taste and Texturelight, nutty

Type of Dishcookie, dessert


  • 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. .

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


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