The other day a photo surfaced of kayakers riding through Market St. in Charleston, South Carolina, after Hurricane Isaac left over 1 foot of water in the streets. The day before my husband told me he felt like going kayaking, but it wouldn't have been very convenient. I sent him the picture the next day and said, "If only we lived in Charleston you could have kayaked yesterday!" We used to live in South Carolina and have visited Charleston together a few times, so his response to seeing the flooding was, "I hope they saved the Benne Wafers and Sweet Grass baskets!"
Let's just say I read between the lines to find any opportunity to make/ do something for him (even though he doesn't usually realize it's what he'd wanted without me pointing it out to him afterward), so let's just say I immediately scoured the internet for Benne Wafer recipes.
We may not be able to kayak down Market Street, but at least I could bring the taste of Charleston home!
Charleston Benne Wafers Cookies Recipe:
- 1 cup sesame seeds (affectionately known as benne seeds, giving these cookies their name. I used 1/3 black sesame seeds, found in an Asian food market, for color.)
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 1.5 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Spread sesame seeds on an ungreased pan and bake for 6-8 minutes, until light brown. (Don't skip this step! This draws out a terrific, nutty flavor that is essential to the cookies.)
- Mix all ingredients together until combined.
- Drop 1 tsp. 1.5 inches apart on a greased baking pan.
- Bake for 4-6 minutes, until lightly brown.
- Let stand on pan for an additional 2 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Enjoy your authentic southern treat!
I was delighted that this is one of those recipes that seems exotic but is very, very fast, easy, and uses all ingredients I had on hand. I made this batch of cookies in about 30 minutes before my hubby came home from work! They were pretty sticky and I did have to watch them closely so they didn't over-bake, but he was pretty excited to have Charleston Benne Wafers as a surprise when he came! They turned out to be a little thicker and chewier than the authentic Benne Wafers, but my husband said he likes them a lot better that way!
When he came home and tried one he said, "Wow... they are like Benne Wafers, only better." Isn't he the best?
If you've ever visited Charleston or heard of these authentic southern cookies you know you need to march into your kitchen and whip these together ASAP. If you haven't been, tasted, or heard of these cookies you still should march into your kitchen and make these cookies ASAP.