Monday, April 4, 2011

Sesame + sugar = Benne Wafers.

Have you ever bought a book because of someone else's rave reviews? I do that all the time. 
I have a whole list of books I want to read because someone told me it was worth it. 
This applies to fiction as well as non-fiction, cookbooks and the like. So, back in December Luisa wrote about the Mighty Benne Wafer - do you know her blog? She writes in such a wonderful way. She also convinced me that - despite her initial hesitation - the Gourmet Cookie Book was a book worth having. 

A cookie picked every year from the Gourmet magazines 60 years of publishing ("The single best recipe from each year"). In 1954, this best cookie was the Benne Wafer. 
They look good. 

Benne Wafers.

Thin and chewy straight from the oven. I had some troubles with them though.

Benne Wafers.

The dough doesn't look like much (but don't double it. You will end up with 4 dozen cookies with a single batch!). There is an egg in it, some flour, lots of sugar, some vanilla and salt and a bit of butter. And sesame seeds of course, because "benne" Gourmet informs us, is an African word for "sesame". The recipe calls for light brown sugar, a sugar available in Germany at Asia food shop - a kind of shop not in close range from where I live - so I simple went with normal white sugar.

Anyway, my trouble was with the batter spreading. I filled three cookie sheets with that tiny amount of batter. And only the last one came out without half of the cookies sticking to each other.
My cookies are also much lighter in color than those in the book and in Luisa's post because I am terrified of burning things and because, and here is the actual problem, I love my cookies chewy.
This isn't a chewy cookie once it's cold.

This is a thin, crispy cookie which would be perfect for summer and a bowl of ice cream.
This cookie is so thin you can practically see through it. Here, I show you:

Benne Wafers.

I enjoyed this cookie a lot right out of the oven. It was still gooey and chewy and moist.
These will be made again. For summer, for bowls of ice cream.

You need:
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter
1 cup sugar (200 grams) (light brown or white) (light brown and white don't weigh the same. Light brown sugar weighs 20 grams more, just so you know.)
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour (around 16 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt (don't skimp, salt in sweet baked goods is good!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (70 grams) sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Cream the butter and the sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg, flour, salt, the vanilla and the sesame seeds and stir until its all combined. 
Drop batter from a teaspoon onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave plenty of space. The cookies will double in size.
With a knife regularly dipped in ice water flatten the wafers and bake for 6 minutes (mine took 7-8 and were still rather light, so check when you hit the 6 minute mark and decide how dark you want yours). Let cool on the parchment paper.
Once cold to the touch the cookies can be easily removed from the paper, but will stick to it when they are still warm.

Makes a big amount of cookies, but I can't tell because of the spreading issues (Gourmet says 4 dozens).

1 comment:

  1. Part of the troubles you might have had could be attributed to the brown sugar. Brown sugar is basically sugar with the molasses (from refining) added back, in a proportion higher than it used to be (that is, you can't substitute raw sugar in the recipe).

    You can make brown sugar by mixing regular sugar and molasses (which, come to think of it, molasses is *more* difficult to find in Germany).

    Nevertheless, your cookies did come out quite lovely, and I have been wanting to try them myself ever since Luisa's post.