Recipe Source: www.co.beaufort.sc.us / Harriott Simons Marshall’s recipe in Charleston Receipts, collected by the Junior League of Charleston (1950), as adjusted by Paul W. Murphey of Richland Center, Wisconsin (September 1999) and web administrator Dennis Adams.
Benne cakes are a food from West Africa introduced to this area by slaves. “Benne” means sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are eaten for good luck. Wafers and cookies made from benne are now a part of Kwanzaa (“first fruit” in Swahili), the African-American family festival that lasts from December 26 through January 1.
3/4 cup butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
(OPTIONAL: Add just a “jot” of sesame oil to the butter and sugar while creaming the mixture.)
Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon onto a well-greased cookie pan, far enough apart to allow spreading while baking. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 7-10 minutes. (Yield: 7 dozen.)