Friday, December 14, 2012

Benne Seed Cookies, a Lowcountry Tradition

As promised, I'm back with another favorite cookie recipe of mine.  If you have ever visited Charleston, SC, then you may have tried these before.  And if you haven't, well you don't know what you're missing! For those who don't know, Benne is the Bantu word for sesame.  They were brought over to the South from East Africa in the 17th century.

There are different versions of this recipe out there. And some recipes call them wafers. The one I use, I copied from one of my Mom's cookbooks. I don't know who to credit, but just know that this is not my own recipe.

Benne Seed Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 teas. baking powder
1 teas. vanilla
1/2 cup toasted benne seed

Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in eggs. Stir together the flour and baking powder, add to mixture and blend well. Stir in vanilla and benne seeds. Drop by teaspoonful far enough apart to allow for spreading. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack.

The sesame seeds I have are roasted already, but if yours aren't you will need to toast them to bring out the flavor.

I bake them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  I leave about 2 inches in between cookies. 

These cookies are thin, crisp and delicious. You won't be able to eat just one! It's a good thing this recipe makes well over 100!  Give them a try, maybe they will become a tradition in your home too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Russian Tea Cookies

I knew this day was coming.... And I'm not talking about the repetitive date of 12/12/12.  No. I'm talking about cooler weather. The past few days here have seen above average temperatures. Mid to upper 70's! Yeah, in December! It has felt more like Easter than Christmas.... But today is rainy and cold. Well, it's in the 50's. One man's cold is another man's comfort, but to me it's COLD! So what better way to spend the day than baking some cookies!  So, I turned on some Christmas music and prepared to get into the Spirit of the Season!

I usually bake an assortment of cookies during the Holidays and today I decided on an old favorite of mine, Russian Tea Cookies.  I got this recipe from my Mom, but I don't know where it originally came from. Now there is nothing extraordinary about these cookies.  No colorful sprinkles, no fancy shapes, no exotic flavors. They are really rather ordinary.  But I love them.

Russian Tea Cookies

2 sticks butter
1/4 teas. salt
1 cup powdered sugar
2 - 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teas. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter. Sift together dry ingredients.  Add to the butter and combine completely. Stir in vanilla and nuts.  Form small balls and press down slightly with your fingers. Bake slowly at 250 - 300 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes, until lightly browned.

I bake mine on parchment paper. These are ready for the oven.

Simple and delicious. They are crunchy, melt in your mouth good! And they're perfect for dunking in your hot tea or coffee. They go great with milk and eggnog too!

I made mine small, that way you can eat more than one!

Save some for Santa!

Maybe you will decide to give this recipe a try. If you do, I would love to hear what you think about them. I'll share another one of my cookie recipes next time. Until then, happy baking!