cinnamon snaps & benne wafers

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Purim was the other weekend, which means I spent a few evenings making hamantaschen in between my enthusiastic efforts to cough up a lung. A few days later, I was informed that the dinner I thought was scheduled for next weekend was in fact the day after tomorrow. More cookies were clearly required.

(But first I had to buy a $2 pineapple.)

I’ve made both of these before and they came out a little differently each time for reasons I can understand and learn from.

 

For the cinnamon snaps, the one thing I must most strongly exhort: use good cinnamon – or at least use fresh cinnamon. Don’t use the stuff that’s been sitting around since the Clinton administration. If it smells only faintly of spice, like an old scratch-and-sniff sticker, treat yourself to some fresh cinnamon and hold this recipe until then or else you risk your other spices overwhelming the tired cinnamon. You want something that’s got a little zip.

I got the recipe from here and didn’t change it appreciably, so I will just point you to the original.

They are icebox cookies, more or less, and while they are not complicated to make or require much in the way of hands-on time, they do take time overall, so not a great choice for a last-minute cookie-baking itch. On the other hand, they freeze fabulously and require next to no defrosting time, so they are a great choice for keeping in the freezer for last-minute cookie-eating itches.

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I still haven’t quite figured out how to make them round. Actually, no, I have – wait until they firm up a little and then roll them until the logs are cylindrical – but that would require remembering to do so.

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On the other hand, these have character.

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Benne Wafers are sesame cookies from the Carolinas. They, too, freeze fabulously – and taste pretty darned good straight out of the freezer, too. They’re pretty quick to make and require no resting, so they have that in their favor, too.

 

Benne Wafers
(adapted from the King Arthur Cookie Companion)

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter [you can use as little as 2 oz]
3/4 cup (6 oz) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup (4.25 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4.5 oz) toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cream together first five ingredients. Add flour and mix until well combined. Add sesame seeds and mix until well incorporated.

Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto greased/papered/silpatted sheets, leaving a lot of space in between — at least two inches. These spread. A lot.

Bake 13-15 minutes, until deep golden brown. Start checking around 11 minutes for the first batch because they go from ‘pleasantly golden’ to ‘char’ pretty quickly when they’re that thin.

Let them sit for a moment on the sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool.

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Now here is where I have to confess that my pictures don’t quite reflect the recipe that is printed above. And it wasn’t until I typed out the recipe that I realized why.

The first time I made these (sadly undocumented by pictures), they came out flat like florentines. This time, as you will see, they are fully 3-D, although they were still tasty and perfect in every way.

The difference? I accidentally halved the butter. I read ‘4 tablespoons’ instead of ‘4 ounces’ and used only half a stick of butter instead of the full stick. So I accidentally made a light version of these cookies. But since they did come out so well with half of the butter, I might consider doing it on a regular basis.

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Even with half of the butter, they still spread:

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