Bake from Scratch

Benne Wafers

Crispy, crunchy, thin benne wafers are a common culinary currency in the Lowcountry city of Charleston, South Carolina. Both savory and sweet, benne wafers can vary in size and breadth. Some appear like saucers the size of a thin chocolate chip cookie, so thin they look like one bite will cause them to splinter in crumbs. Others are more bite-size, tiny, cute circles dotted with the benne seeds that give the wafers their signature flavor. Even what color benne wafers are varies—some the color of a deep caramel and others taking a lighter, cream hue.

But as varied in appearance as benne wafers are, at heart, they have a singular connection: enslaved Africans who found themselves thousands of miles away from home in a new, unknown place. (pronounced “benny”) is the Bantu word for “sesame,” and in simple explanation, the benne seed is a varietal of an African sesame seed. Like many other crops and vegetables—such as sweet

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