Benne wafers use an ingredient key to West African cultures: benne seeds, which are closely related to sesame seeds. They arrived in South Carolina centuries ago with enslaved people. Today, you’ll find the benne seed wafer in gift shops throughout Charleston—they’re a Lowcountry classic, and benne symbolizes luck.
Our benne wafer recipe can elevate any dish of ice cream. With their crispy edges and chewy centers, we recommend serving them straight from the oven too.
Benne Wafer Dough
As needed, unsalted butter, melted for brushing sheet pan
1 cup untoasted sesame or benne seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 9x13-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. Brush paper with melted butter.
Toast sesame seeds in a large skillet over medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer seeds to a large plate; let cool.
Whisk flour and baking soda in a small bowl to mix well.
Combine brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, vanilla and salt in a large mixer bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in sesame seeds. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to firm slightly.
Drop dough by 1 teaspoonfuls onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake for about 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to racks; cool completely.
For Ganache Glaze: Place chocolate chips and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at half power until chocolate chips are melted, stirring every 15 seconds. Let cool 5 minutes. Add butter; whisk until blended. Let the ganache cool 8 to 10 minutes until no longer runny, then use at once to decorate cookies.
To decorate cookies, spoon glaze into a food-safe plastic bag or disposable piping bag. Cut a very small hole at a corner or the tip and pipe the ganache onto the cookies.
- Always cool the baking sheets before baking more cookies. A hot baking sheet will melt the dough and cookie edges may burn or cookies can lose their shape.
- Cookies can be made ahead and frozen. Defrost and decorate before serving.