A classic Italian treat! Covered with crunchy sesame seeds, these delicious, easy-to-make Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies will surely become one of your favorites. Always a winner with both kids and adults!
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These authentic Italian cookies are so simple to make.
Known locally as Biscotti Regina — Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies are great for snacks, dessert, or a cup of espresso for breakfast.
Although, I’ve never really seen locals have them for breakfast. But whatever works for you, right? Here in Stockholm, I like having them with my morning coffee.
FOR SICILIAN SNACKS, YOU SHOULD GIVE THESE POPULAR ITALIAN STREET-FOOD RECIPES A TRY!
- Lemon – you would only use the skin for the grated zest in the dough.
- Flour – all-purpose flour is all you need for this Italian sesame cookies recipe.
- Eggs – you would be using the yolks for the dough and the egg whites for coating the cookies (before baking them).
- Sesame seeds – one cup might seem too much, but they’re just enough to coat twenty-four pieces of regina cookies evenly.
- Milk – full cream milk is excellent for this cookie recipe.
- Vanilla extract – just use your favorite brand.
- Sugar – regular white sugar.
- Baking powder – use what you have on hand.
- Salt – you might need to use less or completely skip this if you are using salted butter.
- Butter – unsalted and make sure it’s chilled.
Start by combining egg yolks, milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest; mix and set aside (photo 1).
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Add butter (photo 2).
Mix until you get a sandy texture, then add the yolks and milk mixture; continue mixing until you start to see a dough forming.
Transfer the dough on top of a flat surface and knead (a bit) while forming a ball (or disc).
Wrap the dough with plastic and place it in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes (photo 3).
Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
Unwrap the dough and divide into six equal parts.
Roll each part into a log that’s about 1-inch in width and 10-inches in length.
Divide the log into four equal portions — 2 & 1/2 inches for each piece (photo 4).
Place each piece on top of a baking tray lined with a baking sheet.
In a small mixing bowl, mix egg whites with two tablespoons of water.
Dip each portion (cookie) into the egg whites and water mixture, then coat it with sesame seeds (photo 5).
Place each coated cookie back in the baking tray; keep some distance between (photo 6).
Place the baking tray in the oven for twenty-five minutes or until the cookies turned golden.
Transfer your Sicilian sesame cookies into a cooling rack.
- Ensure that you are using chilled butter. You need it to get that ‘sandy’ texture for your biscotti regina cookie dough.
- You do not need a food processor to do this. The base of these cookies is known as pasta frolla in Italian cuisine, so using a fork will be just fine, but you have to knead it longer (just enough to combine).
• Toasted sesame seeds. I have seen some biscotti regina versions where they toast the sesame seeds first.
If you want to try that, that’s completely fine, but I suggest placing the baking tray in the lower part of your oven, so the sesame seeds do not get too dark too soon.
You can form these sesame seed cookies any way you want.
The first one I had in Taormina had round corners and almost oblong – and then I saw them in small rectangular shape in Palermo.
They can be stored for a couple of weeks.
Just make sure you keep them in an airtight container and place them in a cool place.
We like having our Sicilian sesame cookies with coffee, tea, or wine (for dessert).
Try them with your favorite beverage, and let me know in the comment section below!
Note: This post was initially published in November 2018. New images, a new video, and some recipe improvements are now added.
Biscotti Regina Recipe (Italian Sesame Cookies)
- 2 medium eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, grated zest
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter (85 grams), unsalted, chilled, cubed
- 1 cup sesame seeds
Preparing Italian sesame cookies' dough:
- Combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla extract, and lemon zest in a bowl, then set aside.
- Using a food processor, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Add butter and mix until you get a sand-like texture.
- Add the yolks-milk mixture, and continue mixing until you start to see a dough forming.
- Transfer the dough on the countertop and knead (a bit) while forming it into a ball (or disc).
- Wrap the dough with plastic and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preparing and baking biscotti regina:
- Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
- Unwrap the dough and divide into 6 equal parts.
- Roll each part into a log that's about 1-inch in width and 10-inches in length.
- Divide the log into 4 equal portions (i.e., 2 & 1/2 inches for each part/cookie).
- Place each cookie on top of a baking tray lined with a baking sheet.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix egg whites with 2 tablespoons of water.
- Dip each cookie into the egg whites-water mixture, then roll it into the sesame seeds to coat it evenly.
- Place each coated cookie back in the baking tray, making sure there are some spaces between each cookie.
- Place the baking tray in the oven for 25 or until the cookies turned golden.
- Transfer your Italian sesame cookies into a cooling rack.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Make sure you are using chilled butter. You need it to get that ‘sandy’ texture for your biscotti regina cookie dough.
- Cook’s Tip #2: You do not need a food processor to do this. The base of these cookies is known as pasta frolla in Italian cuisine, so using a fork will be just fine, but you have to knead it longer (just enough to combine).