Like a good Southerner, I cooked and ate black eyed peas and greens for New Year's Day. It is a tradition in my family and also a superstition for luck. These also happen to be two of my favorite foods and we enjoy them many times throughout the year.
For extra luck this year, I also made Benne Wafers. Benne (sesame seeds) was brought to the Low Country of South Carolina in the 17th century, from Africa, during the slave trade era, and the versatile annual herb was planted extensively throughout the South. In addition to the delicious, nutty flavor and nutritional benefits, legend has it that eating sesame seeds brings good luck.
These brown and buttery cookies with their nutty taste are solid and crisp on bottom and crunchy-light on top. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, but you will need them. They are so delicious and hard to stop eating. However, you don't need to bake all the cookies at once; the dough stores very well in the refrigerator until needed.
1 1/2 cups sesame seeds
1 (1-pound) box light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
Toast the sesame seeds on a baking sheet, at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until just starting to brown and become fragrant. Set aside to cool completely.
Lower oven to 300 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs until very light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture until combined. Stir in the vanilla and the cooled sesame seeds.
Drop the batter by teaspoonful about 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 12 to 14 minutes until very brown around the edges.
Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheets. They will peel easily away from the parchment paper. Store in layers between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.
If I were going to make a New Year's Resolution, it would be:
BAKE MORE COOKIES