It’s back on with the rain and the grey skies. My umbrella and rubber boots are ready by the door – and I’m sure I’ll be needing them soon. It kinda figures that with this weather comes sad news. The truth is that I’m really bummed about Roger Ebert’s death. It seems so strange that someone who I’ve never met could have such an effect on me. When I was in school I’d stay up on Sunday nights to watch Siskel & Ebert. Actually, sneaking downstairs with the tv on low is how I watched it since it came on after midnight for some odd scheduling reason. I saw Wes Anderson’s film Bottle Rocket at the theater a week after seeing it reviewed on their show. Ebert alerted me to great and wonderful things. That tv show feuled my love of movies and when it came time to pick a major in university I went with Film Theory. While I didn’t really want to make movies, writing, reading and soaking up all I could about films was all I wanted to do. It didn’t give me a career nor did I expect it to, but I was happy with my choices. I know quite a few people who aren’t interested in studying films – they just watch and let the movie magic take over. But for me, digging in deep was what brings even greater joy and I can thank Roger Ebert for making me aware that it was possible to look at films differently and still find unabashed joy. Today, I watch movies constantly and I even write about them in short snippets on my tumblr blog. I’m sure many of you have read Ebert’s last blog post (I still haven’t as I often like to save things for later like a treat), but I do love this piece, Roger loves Chaz.
Anyway, onto cookies! Or benne wafers. These are a strange bird. For the past few months I’ve been craving Sesame Snaps, those snappy rectangles of sesame seeds held tight with sugar. While these aren’t those hippy snacks of my childhood, they do have lots of sesame flavour to love. They’re flat and thin as pancakes and I assumed that they’d be crispy like a wafer should be. Instead, these are chewy and have a slight bend. I liked them despite my initial preconceptions. They’re sweet and nutty and just lovely with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon.
If you do try this recipe, make them smaller than I did. I think these would be even lovelier tiny! Instead of dropping a large spoonful of dough onto your cookie sheet, go with a small teaspoons worth.
(recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)
1 c toasted sesame seeds
1 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter, slightly cool
1 large egg
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t kosher salt
1/8 t baking powder
1 t fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 F.
If your sesame seeds are not toasted, toast them. It’s important. Just place them in a small to medium heavy skillet and dry toast them over medium heat until fragrant & light brown. Watch them carefully, shaking the pan to keep them moving as they can burn quickly. Remove them immediately to cool.
In a medium sized bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until incorporated. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add these dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the toasted sesame seeds, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Use a teaspoon to drop dough onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment or a silpat liner. Leave plenty of space for the cookies to spread – I only did about 6 cookies per sheet, but then again, I made my cookies too large. I’d suggest a small teaspoon of dough! Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly brown. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets, then transfer to a rack to continue cooling.