Benne Seed Cookies (Sesame Seed Cookies)

Benne Seed Cookies

Benne Seed Cookies have been a part of my Christmas cookie repertoire for over 15 years now. These nutty little treats are a nice change from traditional holiday cookies. Since moving to South Carolina, I have found out that Benne Seed Wafers are a Charleston, South Carolina food tradition. Slaves brought benne seeds (sesame seeds) over from Africa and they became a part of the Southern food culture. They are thought to bring good luck, which I could certainly use right now. Charleston Benne Seed Wafers are thin. I like mine a bit more substantial, more cookie-like, so I add more flour than the traditional recipes.

Sesame seeds are super nutritious. You can find them in health food stores (bulk bins), Asian (Korean) markets, or order them online from places like Penzey’s.

Benne Seed Cookies 2

Benne Seed Cookies (Sesame Seed Cookies)

1 1/2  cups flour
1 1/4 baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sesame seeds (hulled), divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1/4 cup sesame seeds. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together with an electric beater until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing well.

With your hands, pull off pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Place the remaining 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a small bowl or dish. Dip the top of the dough balls in the sesame seeds.  Place the balls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, seed side up. Space the balls about 2 inches apart in 4 rows of 3. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten the cookies a bit.

Bake the cookies in a 350° oven for 6 to 9 minutes (7 minutes is perfect for me) or until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and let sit on the baking sheet a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies keep well in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

 

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