Healthy for the holidays: Benne Cakes

This holiday season, celebrate by making traditional Kwanzaa benne cakes. Even if you don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, you’ll have fun making this recipe which is healthier than other choices. The ingredients in this recipe stay true to the flavor but substitute healthier ingredients for unhealthy ones. The traditional brown sugar used in the usual benne cake recipes allow for the same great taste, while a splash of lemon juice brings a creative feel to the whole dessert. Because sesame seeds are already healthy and essential to the flavor of benne cakes, they are left in the recipe. The sesame seeds add a sweet and bitter crunch that makes the benne cake a benne cake.

By Misheel Enkhbat:

• 1 cup light brown sugar • 4 tbsp butter • 1 large egg, lightly beaten • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract • 2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed • 1/2 cupall-purpose flour • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/4 tsp salt • 1 cup sesame seeds, toasted • vegetable oil spray


36 servings | Total Time: 25 minutes
1.    Preheat oven to 325 F.
2.    In large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter and mix until creamy.
3.    Add beaten egg, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Blend well. Sprinkle in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix lightly until combined. Fold in sesame seeds.
4.    Spray sided baking sheet with vegetable oil spray.
5.    Drop batter by scant teaspoonful onto baking sheet. Benne cakes will spread—don’t overcrowd.
6.    Bake for approximately 15 minutes until cakes are golden and edges are browned.
7.    Remove to wire rack until crispy.

This holiday season, celebrate by making traditional Kwanzaa benne cakes. Even if you don’t celebrate Kwanzaa, you’ll have fun making this recipe which is healthier than other choices. The ingredients in this recipe stay true to the flavor but substitute healthier ingredients for unhealthy ones. The traditional brown sugar used in the usual benne cake recipes allow for the same great taste, while a splash of lemon juice brings a creative feel to the whole dessert. Because sesame seeds are already healthy and essential to the flavor of benne cakes, they are left in the recipe. The sesame seeds add a sweet and bitter crunch that makes the benne cake a benne cake.

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