Sweet Benne Wafers
Makes about 120.
Note: From “The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen,” by Matt and Ted Lee.
• 1/2 c. sesame seeds
• 1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. flour
• 3/4 c. tightly packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. baking soda
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
• 1 egg
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
In a cast-iron skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat, stirring them frequently in the pan with a wooden spoon, until they are the color of unpopped popcorn, about 5 minutes. Keep stirring for a minute more after removing from the heat.
Sift flour with the sugar, salt and baking soda twice. Cut butter into dry ingredients with your fingertips or with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg on medium until it stiffens, about 2 minutes. Add the dry flour mixture in three parts, beating until batter is consistently smooth and lustrous, about 2 minutes. Add toasted sesame seeds and vanilla, and beat on low speed just until the seeds are evenly incorporated. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip or to a plastic bag with a tiny piece of its corner cut out.
Working in batches of 30, pipe batter in very small 1/4 teaspoon-size drops about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet. Bake until cookies turn noticeably chestnut-brown and lacy, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and cool until cookies have stiffened, about 10 minutes, then transfer to a plate or open container to dry further. Repeat until all the cookies are baked, and then let them cool completely before sealing the container.
If the first batch isn’t crisp enough after 15 minutes of cooling time (they should be slightly chewy), pipe subsequent batches with slightly more batter and bake slightly longer to stiffen them. (Cookies will keep in a sealed container at room temperature about 4 days.)