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Desserts

Benne Crescents

These unusual cookies get a one-two punch of fl avor from sesame seeds, which are known as benne [BEHN-ee] in the South. Rolled in toasted seeds to give them a coating with delicate crunch, these crescents include a surprise ingredient that gets stirred into the dough. Toasted sesame oil, usually relegated to Asian cooking, rockets the sesame flavor of these cookies straight to the moon.

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Ingredients

TOAST:

WHISK:

Light-colored sesame oil is usually found in grocery stores. Darker-colored oil, labeled “toasted sesame oil,” has a more pronounced sesame flavor, which is why we prefer it in this cookie.

Instructions

Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Cream butter and powdered sugar with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Add egg, sesame oil, and vanilla to creamed mixture; beat on low speed until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture; beat on low until ingredients are combined. Add remaining flour, beating just until flour is incorporated into dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly beat egg white and water in a small bowl.

Using your hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls; shape each dough ball into a crescent.

Dip each crescent into egg white mixture, letting excess drip off, then dip crescents into seeds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until firm to the touch and lightly brown on the bottoms, 13–15 minutes. Let cookies cool on the cookie sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make-Ahead Directions: Prepare and shape dough into cookies; coat each with sesame seeds. Freeze molded cookies on a baking sheet, then transfer them to a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer up to 1 month. Thaw cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking as directed.

Step 1

Keep seeds moving as you toast them, otherwise they can burn. Transfer seeds to a bowl to cool.

Step 2

Toasted sesame oil is added to the creamed butter and sugar mixture with the egg and vanilla.

Step 3

To make a crescent-shaped cookie, pinch a dough ball and mold it around your thumb.

Step 4

Dip molded cookies in a mixture of beaten egg white and water, then into toasted sesame seeds.

Tags: Christmas, Vegetarian, Make Ahead, Desserts

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