Benne Crescents


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.


30 cookies

Total Time

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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.


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, 1315 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.

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