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Benne Cakes

Servings: 3 dozen
Benne cakes are traditionally associated with the Deep South, where bennes – sesame seeds – are considered good luck. The recipe actually originated in West Africa, and is enjoyed the world over for its wonderful taste. 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.

Serve these crunchy little cakes ( also called wafers) at your Kwanzaa parties and celebrations as a delicious appetizer before the meal.

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (160 C) and lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir in the sesame seeds. Drop by the teaspoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.

Makes 3 dozen Benne Cakes

Date: December 26, 2004