Benne cakes are traditional treats in the southern United States, but the recipe originated from West Africa. Bennes are sesame seeds and are considered to bring good luck in many cultures. Traditionally, these cakes are sweet and are like small cookies. They are a regular treat at Kwanzaa celebrations. This variation brings a new take on an old favorite by adding a sharp cheddar twist!
If you are using block cheese, shred or grate it while it is still cold. Or, you can use 1 package of LDF shredded cheese. Both cheese and butter should be allowed to sit out until they reach room temperature, before combining the ingredients in this recipe; they should be very soft before you begin.
First, mix cheese, butter, and flour together. Then, add a small pinch of cayenne. (More may be added, according to your preference.) Roll the dough into marble-sized balls, then roll them in the sesame seeds. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm; then pack in a container and freeze until you want to bake them.
Remove the balls from the freezer to defrost, about 2 hours before serving. After defrosting, bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly brown. These unique cakes are delicious with drinks or soup, or as an accompaniment to salad. Makes 50 to 60 Benne Cakes.
Inspired by a recipe found in Reader’s Digest Secrets of Better Cooking
MOOO News, March 2011