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Benne-Pecan Thins

A lacy mosaic of a cookie...

Thirty 2¾-inch cookies


About 30 minutes to make and bake


Benne seeds bring distinctive flavor to the foods that bear them. Nothing new about that. When administered with abandon—beyond the usual sprinkle—benne has quite an impact on texture as well. Take a cookie, for instance. You want glass-shatter crisp? Benne’s your go-to seed. But without mitigating ingredients, benne can lose its lacy mosaic and fuse to a crustacean brittle. Southerners add pecans to their famous benne wafers. We threw pecans into our recipe, too, and interrupted the texture further with Anson Mills craggy-cut oats, along with a lavish amount of butter. The resultant cookie has a most extraordinary flavor and texture. Buttery with traces of toffee, short, and crackling, but without being either crunchy-hard or too soft in the center.

Baking Notes

The dough in this recipe is extremely soft. We worked around different formulas but found that the following proportions produced the best-textured cookies. Throw the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill it down, dampen your palms, and use a light touch when rolling. For uniformity, the dough should be divided evenly into 30 portions, each weighing 0.6 ounce. Larger cookies will not bake through properly. The idea is for them to brown and crisp on the edges but yield at the center. When pulled from the oven the cookies will be quite soft, but allow them to cool and they’re perfection.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale, two baking sheets, parchment paper, a food processor, a medium bowl, a small bowl, a whisk, a stand mixer with the flat-beater attachment, a silicone spatula, a wire rack, and a wide metal spatula.


    Adjust a rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


    In a food processor, combine about half of the flour and 1.75 ounces of the pecans, then process until the nuts are finely ground, 15 to 20 seconds. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl, add the remaining flour, the baking powder, and salt, then whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla until well blended.


    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat-beater attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a silicone spatula. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and aerated, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the egg-vanilla mixture, scraping the bowl down intermittently and beating until incorporated. With the mixer still running, add the flour-pecan mixture, followed by the oats and benne seeds. Detach the bowl from the mixer and scrape it down. Using the spatula, stir the remaining chopped pecans into the mixture until evenly distributed; the dough will be very soft. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to ease handling.


    With water-dampened palms, form the dough into thirty balls (each weighing 0.6 ounce) and place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until deep golden brown around the edges, 7 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies directly to the rack. Let cool completely.