Bennecake thumbprint cookies recipe

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Originally brought from Africa to the Low Country, the benne seed dates back to Colonial times. Benne flour looks like powdered gold and has the texture of a superfine cornmeal. Similar to but not the same as sesame seed, the benne adds a peanut butter–like flavor to these fun little thumbprint cookies.

  • Yield: 48 cookies


  • 1 cup bennecake flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup good-quality preserves, such as strawberry or raspberry
How to Make It
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the two flours and the baking powder together thoroughly; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a medium mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix just until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds, beating until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to another bowl and finish mixing by hand to make sure no bits of flour or butter are hiding on the bottom of the bowl and the dough is thoroughly mixed.
  5. Use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies, about 1 rounded tablespoon each, and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies to allow for spreading. Press the center of each cookie with your thumb to make an indention, then fill with 1 teaspoon of the preserves.
  6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even doneness. The cookies should be lightly golden on the edges and the preserves should be bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool on wire racks. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

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