Sesame Seed Cookies: Biscotti Reginelle


The name of these cookies, Biscotti Reginelle or Biscotti Regina (Queen’s Cookies) implies that they are fit for a queen.  While humble in appearance they are in fact regal in flavor.  Let me just warn you that eating just one is not enough.  These are one of my favorite cookies and when I make them, I am simply not able to control myself from eating them!

The dough is basic pasta frolla, a sweet pastry dough similar to shortbread.  These rustic cookies are flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus, then covered in sesame seeds (giuggiulena in Sicilian).  Semolina flour gives them a slightly coarse texture.  For a more rustic textured cookie use 1 cup semolina flour and 1 3/4 cups al-purpose flour.

Note:  It is important to use roasted sesame seeds, not the regular or raw sesame seeds found in the spice section of your supermarket.  Raw sesame seeds have slightly bitter taste in comparison to roasted sesame seeds, which have a sweet and nutty flavor.  Roasted sesame seeds can be found in the Asian foods section of most supermarkets or in Asian specialty grocery stores.

(Viscotti Reginelle /Viscotti cu la Giuggiulena/Biscotti Reginelle)

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 40 cookies.

For the Dough:
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cold milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 drops orange or lemon extract, or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the Cookie Coating:
1 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup milk

1. MAKE THE DOUGH:  Combine the eggs, 1/4 cup milk, and extracts or lemon zest, if using in a small bowl.

Using a food processor, pulse both flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until just combined.  Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add egg mixture and pulse briefly until the dough begins to come together.  The dough will look very dry.

Alternatively, you can place both flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl.  Stir with a whisk until combined.  Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal.  Using a fork, stir in the egg mixture until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a board or flat surface, and briefly knead the dough until it comes together and forms a ball.  Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a ball.  Cover each half with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

2. SHAPE THE COOKIES:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Working with one dough ball at a time, cut in half.  Roll each half into a rope 20-inches long.  Cut into 2-inch long pieces.  Roll each piece into a log.  Repeat with remaining half.

Place the sesame seeds and milk in separate small shallow bowls. Roll the cookies in milk, and place on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Then coat each cookie in sesame seeds. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

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