Benne or sesame seeds were brought to America through the transatlantic slave trade. They were commonly used to enhance the flavors of foods or used as a thickening agent. African slaves believed the seeds brought good luck. Benne wafers are a staple dessert for many people in South Carolina and they are often served during Kwanzaa as well.
Melt in your mouth, crisp, chewy, nutty and caramelized benne or sesame cookies are perfect for the holidays. For a more traditional sesame cookie, leave them plain or make them festive by drizzling them with chocolate sauce. Both ways are equally delicious.
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These sesame cookies are SO delicious. The first time I tried them I was a bit taken by the flavor of the sesame seeds but after I finished the first cookie, I quickly became addicted. I easily devoured several of them back to back. I didn't feel bad about that either. This recipes makes 45-50 cookies so I had more than enough to share.
Traditional Benne wafers tend to be crunchy and crisp and plain without chocolate. I prefer mine chewy and crisp. Nothing like a chewy and crispy cookie. I wanted to dress the cookies up for the holidays , so I drizzled them with melted chocolate.
For a more traditional cookie, feel free to ditch the chocolate. These cookies have so much flavor! I think you will quickly become addicted to its nutty, crisp but chewy, buttery rich unique flavor! I think this is one of the most easiest cookies I have ever made. I love that it makes a big batch. You can whip these up delicious sesame cookies up in no time.
Benne seed cookies are a perfect conversation dessert which makes them great for holiday parties, Kwanzaa or any party really. These benne seed wafers make will be the star of your party!
Benne wafer quick tips:
- A light colored baking sheet will keep these cookies from burning. Dark colored ones will burn the cookies. I used a Nordic ware baking sheet. This one HERE.
- Do not place the benne cookies close together on the baking sheet or they may stick together. I suggest placing them 2 inches apart.
- Make sure you use parchment paper if not, the cookies may spread too much.
- These cookies bake up pretty fast. Make sure you put your timer on 6 minutes. Check them. If they are not golden colored yet, bake them for 2 more minutes. I take them out when the are golden brown but still soft to the touch. You definitely want to under bake them. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them sit for a couple minutes. They will continue to cook.
- If you are going to drizzle with chocolate, let the cookies cool completely. Don't drown the cookies in chocolate. Just drizzle a bit with a spoon. Garnish with more sesame seeds if you like.
- Chill the chocolate drizzled cookies until the chocolate has set and dried.
- Store plain cookies in a tight lid container for up to 4 days at room temperature. Do not store chocolate drizzled cookies at room temperature.
- Store drizzled cookies in an air tight container, once the chocolate on the cookies is set/dry.
Benne Seed Cookies
- 1 cup sesame seeds toasted
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ¾ cup flour
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cup melted chocolate
- 2 ½ tsp coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the seeds on an un-greased baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Watch them carefully because they will burn fast. Set to the side to cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a light colored baking sheet (see notes) with parchment paper. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add the slightly beaten eggs. Mix. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the benne seeds) to the butter and egg mixture. Mix until the dough forms. Add the sesame seeds and stir to combine
- Using a ½ tsp, scoop the dough and with your hands form into a ball. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not place the cookies close together. Continue until you are done. If you are only making a few and want to store the rest, see notes below.
- Reduce the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cookies into the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes. The cookies should be still soft to the touch but golden in color. Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments . Add the shortening immediately and stir well. Using a spoon, drizzle cookies with chocolate. It doesn't have to be perfect. SEE NOTES.
__________________ A light colored baking sheet will keep these cookies from burning. If you're using a dark baking sheet, reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. __________________ Do not place the benne cookies too close together on the baking sheet or they may stick together. I suggest placing them 2 inches apart. Make sure you use parchment paper if not, the cookies may spread too much. __________________
These cookies cook pretty fast, therefore bake them between 6-8 minutes. They should be a light golden brown color. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool about 15 minutes. __________________ Store cookies in a tight lid container for up to 4 days at room temperature.
These cookies were so easy to make, and taste so so good! I had not heard of these before finding this recipe on your blog, and I loved learning more about the story and history and culture surrounding them. Thank you, April, for sharing this awesome recipe!!
Hi Liz!! You're very welcome! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such great feedback 🙂
These cookies are fabulous- thank you for sharing the recipe.
You're very welcome. Thank you so much Lisa! 🙂
Agness of Run Agness Run
I've never tried any cookies similar to this one and I am so intrigued by your post to give this recipe a try, April. What kind of flour do you use for this recipe?
I used all purpose flour. Thanks so much. I hope you can try it out!