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As you’ve probably noticed, my photography skills are decidedly… amateur. Perhaps even downright mediocre. Nevertheless I soldier on. Surely I’ll eventually learn something and my pictures will get sexier.

These wafer cookies are so beautiful, and… I tried really hard. I have 20 pictures of them on my computer, and I deleted many more as I went along. Maybe you experts won’t be impressed by my efforts; most of the pictures aren’t focused quite right. Even so, I kind of like how some of them turned out. And I figured out a few new settings on my camera along the way.

These cookies are not only beautiful, but also ridiculously tasty. They’re sweet and nutty and crispy and perfect. The recipe comes from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Bagget. I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve made some bad-ass cookies from it, and it features a nice variety of different cookies and bars. It also has little historical anecdotes about the origins of many of the recipes. But on the other hand, she uses corn syrup and shortening fairly often, which is a little bit gross.

You’re going to need a lot of sesame seeds (especially because you’ll want to make these cookies again very soon), so it’s best to get them from a place that sells them in bulk. I also want to take this opportunity to rave about silicone mats for baking sheets. Using one of those is going to make your life way easier when it comes to getting these cookies off the sheet.

Without further ado, I give you:

Sesame Seed Wafers

(She calls them “Best Benne Seed Wafers,” but if you don’t know what benne seeds are, that’s not very helpful.)

3/4 cup (scant 4 ounces) hulled sesame seeds
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease one or more baking sheets, line with aluminum foil, then grease the foil. Or just use a handy silicone mat.

2. Toast the sesame seeds in the oven, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the sesame seeds, flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until the sugar dissolves.

5. Whisk in the sesame seed mixture until well-blended. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until cooled.

6. Shape portions of the dough into 3/4 inch balls and place on the baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. [Note: 3/4 inch is very small compared to normal drop cookies. If you’re not sure, look at a ruler. The first time I made these, I made the balls too big, and they all melted together to form a big sheet of cookie. Err on the small side.]

7. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 10-12 minutes, until nicely browned. If you used foil, slide the foil onto a wire rack and let stand until the cookies are firm. Then peel them off and let stand on wire racks until completely cooled. If the cookies don’t become brittle-crisp as they cool, they’re underbaked. Bake them for a few more minutes.

8. Store in an airtight container. They’ll still taste good a couple weeks later.

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