The Benne Wafer
When thinking of Charleston, you can’t help but think of great food. The benne wafer is no exception. Made of toasted sesame, this thin, crispy cookie is almost too good to be true.
Now, you may be thinking that sesame seeds only belong on the top of a bun, but we’re here to tell you this is simply not true. Many Southern dishes can be brought to life with sesame seeds and the benne wafer allows you to experience true Southern appreciation for sesame. Before you try one, let us tell you about the interesting history behind the seed that is a part of the American cookie heritage.
Where did sesame come from?
Sesame seeds weren’t always found in America, and they had to make quite a long trip to get here. Sesame seeds were originally in Africa and were brought to the southern United States by African slaves in the 1700s. The seeds were brought from East Africa and through West Africa before being brought to America and being planted throughout the South.
What is Benne?
In Africa, the Bantu-word for sesame is “Benne”, which is where the benne wafer got its name. Sesame is often used in Asian, Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, but many people don’t realize the significant role sesame has had in American history.
When was the Benne Wafer first made?
To the lowcountry, sesame was an interesting and new ingredient in the 1700s and was incorporated into food in many different ways. Eventually, the benne wafer was created, and although the exact date of creation is uncertain, some of the only original recipes for the cookie are over 100 years old.
Why do you need to try a Benne Wafer?
When sesame seeds are toasted, they acquire a peanut butter or almond flavor which makes the benne wafer irresistible. Recipes for these vary, however most agree that the cookie is molded together with flour, sugar, eggs and butter, at the very least. It should also be noted that the benne wafer is most popular around Christmas time and is a great baked good to share.
Where can you get a Benne Wafer?
Want to taste this southern delicacy? Here at Charleston Collections & Gifts, we sell these light and crispy treats! Whether you’re getting them as a gift or to munch on while walking around our beautiful town, benne wafers are a must-have when you’re in Charleston. This treat is unique to the South, and you can’t get any more authentic than this traditional recipe.