Apr 10
2010

Chocolate & Orange Benne Wafer Cookies Recipe

Chocolate & Orange Benne Wafer Cookies Recipe

When I was a kid, Oreos and Nutter Butters were barred from crossing the threshold of our home. Actually, we rarely had any kind of baked goods in our house. Well, except for the occasional batch of chocolate cookies that my mum made (oh, those were good). A family dessert typically consisted of a fresh fruit salad or a cup of herbal tea. Does it sound like I’m complaining? Nope, not for a second. I am grateful for my mum’s commitment to feeding us healthy, well-balanced meals. With all of my mum’s trips to specialty groceries, she occasionally surprised me with packages of Korean sesame cookies. Sweet wafers, made with a combination of sesame seeds and sugar. These usually came in a stack of four wafers which I would carefully break apart so that I could savor the sweet and toasted flavor of each bite.

To be honest, I had never tasted a benne wafer until I made this batch. When I spotted the classic benne wafer recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Baking Book, I was reminded of the sweet sesame treat of my childhood. These cookies, however, don’t come from as far afield as Korea. Benne (“sesame” in the Bantu language of the Niger-Congo) was brought from East Africa to the southern United States during the Colonial Times, and planted widely across the area. Benne wafers originated in Charleston, South Carolina and are a classic and well-loved southern treat.

Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. In the spirit of baking blasphemy, I added orange zest and bittersweet chocolate to these cookies. This is not my first time messing with a classic southern recipe. However, since the Louisiana Pecan & Butterscotch Ball Cookies came out so well, I was encouraged to commit cookie heresy again. The texture is a balanced mixture of crispy and chewy, with a subtle flavor of orange that compliments the toasted sesame seeds, caramelized brown sugar, and rich chocolate.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, with the oven rack set to the middle position. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

In the bowl of a mixer (or a large bowl, using a hand-mixer), beat together 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened, and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.


Add 1 egg and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Turn the mixer to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Mix in 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds.

Add 1/2 teaspoon (packed) orange zest and 2 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate to the dough and mix until just combined.



Place heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Place about 2 teaspoons apart.


Bake until the cookies are spread thin and golden brown, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.


For best results, bake the cookies one sheet at a time, cooling the pans (I rinsed them in cold water and dried) before reusing. Let the cookies cool on the racks for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack, 45 to 60 minutes.


Other desserts with sesame seeds:

Swirl & Scramble’s Chocolate Cardamom Date & Sesame Cake
Dessert First’s Sesame Seeds Balls
She Simmers’ Poppy Seed & Black Sesame Seed Cake
Lisa is Cooking’s Sesame Seed Cake
Crispy Waffle’s Palitaw (Sweet Rice Dumplings with Sesame Sugar & Coconut)

Chocolate & Orange Benne Wafers
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp (packed) orange zest
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, with the oven rack set to the middle position. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer (or a large bowl, using a hand-mixer), beat together butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn the mixer to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Mix in toasted sesame seeds. Add orange zest and chocolate to the dough and mix until just combined.

Place heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Place about 2 teaspoons apart.

Bake until the cookies are spread thin and golden brown, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. For best results, bake the cookies one sheet at a time, cooling the pans (I rinsed them in cold water and dried) before reusing. Let the cookies cool on the racks for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack, 45 to 60 minutes.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Printable recipe


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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tia April 10, 2010 at 5:08 am

great thin, delicate looking cookies!

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2 Elin April 10, 2010 at 6:36 am

Hi CC…this is a great wafer cookie..thanks for sharing..those sesame seeds mmmmI can smell the aroma thru the window :)) You bake such nice things each time I am here to drool.

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3 pegasuslegend April 10, 2010 at 11:19 am

I love finding new recipes with orange zest in them, using so much orange here in Florida this is perfect Ill bet they were gone in flash~ thanks~~

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4 Sarah @ Mum In Bloom April 10, 2010 at 2:03 pm

What a beautiful post. I loved the story and the pictures :) Seriously, what kind of camera do you use? (mine is broken.. boo, hoo)

My husband loves crispy thin cookies and he'd love these. I have your recipe saved to try (as soon as my camera gets fixed). Who wants to bake something new without taking pictures ;o)

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5 Divina Pe April 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Wow, beautiful. I love sesame seeds and adding orange zest and chocolate sounds even better. Tempting!!

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6 Kalyn April 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

These have to be amazing because I love everything with sesame seeds!

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7 Davon Jacobson, Md April 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm

The cookies look great and declicous. I really want to make those for my kids. Thanks for the recipe. Keep up the great work with your articles and please stop by my health blog sometime. The web address is http://healthy-nutrition-facts.blogspot.com/.

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8 bunkycooks April 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I really would like to try these! I imagine they are really unusual with the sesame seeds. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

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9 Tickled Red April 10, 2010 at 11:05 pm

These look so good! They wouldn't last long around my monkeys…or me :)

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10 Sara April 11, 2010 at 1:27 am

Yum! The mix of flavors here sounds fantastic! :)

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11 Jenn April 11, 2010 at 3:40 am

I just barely got used to using lemon zest recently. I need to try orange zest next. Crunchy delicious wafers.

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12 Cookin' Canuck April 11, 2010 at 3:52 am

Thanks for all of your comments. I'm typically not a big fan of orange and chocolate together, but the orange is subtle enough in these cookies to make the perfect balance.

Sarah, my camera is the Canon Rebel XSi. I love it! I am saving up for a new lens though, which I've heard is a lot better for food photography than the standard one that comes with the camera.

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13 citronetvanille April 11, 2010 at 4:19 am

I am not sure I know what benne wafer is, all I know is that the combination of orange and chocolate is one of my favorites, and looking at your pictures, those look too good that it would be hard to stop at one.

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14 Lazaro Cooks! April 11, 2010 at 4:26 am

Saw your profile on another page. Glad I read your informative and well-written blog. Look forward to following you here. Have a great day. Cheers!

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15 Biren April 11, 2010 at 5:55 am

I think adding orange zest and chocolate is a good idea. Kind of a new taste with the sesame seeds but it must be quite fragrant and delicious :)

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16 Casey Angelova April 11, 2010 at 6:23 am

These look quite yummy! I am always looking for new cookie recipes to share with my Bulgarian in-laws, they are quite enamored with N. American baked treats.

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17 penny aka jeroxie April 11, 2010 at 7:10 am

Hmmm… would go so well with a nice hot chocolate.

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18 kamran siddiqi April 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Oh MY! I know every single cookie that you described in this post and wanted to take a few bites out of each, but I think I'll be taking more bites out of these cookies! These looks absolutely delicious and I'd gladly put down an Oreo for one of these! :)

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19 Mother Rimmy April 12, 2010 at 1:14 am

The combination of orange and chocolate just can't be beat, if you ask me. I'll be trying these soon for my treat of the week. Terrific!

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20 Trix April 12, 2010 at 2:22 am

Hmm, well, if this is baking heresy … I am happy to burn. So creative and really interesting background on this cookie/wafer.

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21 Maria April 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Chocolate and orange, such a great combo!

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22 Michelle April 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm

What a fabulous and unique recipe! I just checked out a America's Test Kitchens Cookbook from our library and it is fantastic and one of the best cookbooks I've seen in a long time!

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23 LilSis April 12, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I love these cookies! They look delicious!I love the orange zest in them!

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24 Emily Ziegler April 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm

What an AMAZING recipe. I love it. I cannot wait to try it!

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25 Maggy April 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm

These look delicious! Love chocolate and orange together.

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26 Barbara @moderncomfortfood April 12, 2010 at 11:09 pm

I so love the unusual combination of flavors you have used here, and I'm always up for very thin, very crisp cookies. A must-try recipe. Thank you for sharing it.

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27 My Little Space April 13, 2010 at 4:59 am

Ooo…I'm drooling! Must KIV this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.

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28 Megan April 14, 2010 at 5:57 am

These look delicious! Perfect with a big tall glass of ice cold milk!

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29 Lisa Avant April 15, 2010 at 2:40 am

Oh these look great. I love how they are so flat!

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