Sunday, September 27, 2009

a Charleston cookie legend...spirited

Charleston, SC - food and restaurants and bakeries at every turn.

I remember benne wafers from a Savannah, GA trip to Byrd Cookie Company 20 years ago. But, I didn't make the connection in Charleston i.e. Olde Colony Bakery until I was leaving the city. And, the benne wafers at the airport were not packaged as a product of Olde Colony Bakery. Thus began the internet search for a benne wafer recipe. I found several, and decided to try one of the versions I found here.

I really should follow the recipe exactly on the first baking attempt, but I seldom do. I'll list my variations below. In short, my cookies don't look exactly like the cookies in the above blog post, nor do they look like the wafers in Charleston, but they are delicious nonetheless.

The benne wafers being sold at the Charleston airport list ingredients as follows:
unbromated wheat flour
egg whites
white sessame seeds
palm oil
salt baking powder
baking soda

(If I can acquire a package of Olde Colony Bakery benne wafers, I'll update this post.)

Listed below is the recipe I followed; my adjustments are in capital letters:

Benne Wafers (adapted from a recipe by Jean Anderson)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar FIRMLY PACKED
1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 TEASPOONS
1 large egg 1 EXTRA LARGE EGG
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour 5 OZ KA WHITE WHEAT FLOUR
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup lightly toasted sesame seeds THE BROWN ONES

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light, about 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add the egg and beat until just incorporated. Add the flour and salt, mixing to

combine. Fold in the sesame seeds.

Drop the dough from rounded 1/2 teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. The cookies will spread when baking.

Bake on the middle oven shelf for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 7 dozen cookies.

Thank you for sharing, Tim! Visit Tim's blog, Lottie + Doof for more really good cooking and fabulous photography.

Visit Tim's weblog:Lottie + Doof (giving credit where credit is due)

My cookies did not spread, as listed in the recipe above, but they are DELICIOUS.
Once I realized my recipe/ingredient mistake, I began using my #100 scoop (which is about 1 1/2 teaspoons) to portion the cookies.
And, I added 2 teaspoons of Praline Liqueur to the last half of the benne wafer batter. This added a richness to the cookies. I could not really taste the liqueur in the cookies, but I could smell the praline. I will add this ingredient to my permament benne wafer recipe.

Though not the traditional southern, small, thin, crisp benne, I'm very pleased with my benne wafer/cookie version.


  1. your recipe sounds really delicious. what is praline liqeur? i never heard about that...

  2. New Orleans style Praline Pecan Liqueru produced by Sazerac Co - Frankfort, KY USA Alc 21% by volume (42 proof)

    Here's a link:

  3. Hi, I thought I'd let you know you can order Benne wafers directly from Olde Colony Bakery's website at:

    Hope that helps :-)