How to Make Italian Sesame Cookies (Biscotti di Regina) by Cleo Coyle

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The name of this rustic, Italian sesame cookie is Biscotti di Regina (Queen's Cookies). They are light, sophisticated treats with nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Like coffeehouse biscotti, they are made for the glories of dunking, which is why they're a delicious breakfast treat with coffee and a unique addition to afternoon tea.

Italian families sometimes serve them before or after dinner. They can be eaten as an appetizer with cheese and wine, or added to a dessert tray with fine chocolates, coffee, and sweet liqueurs (like these). 

However you enjoy them, these versatile little cookies are fit for a queen...and I originally posted this recipe for the queens of our hearts Mother's Day!

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Our readers may remember these adorable cookies from our 5th Coffeehouse title, DECAFFEINATED CORPSE, a murder mystery surrounding the discovery of the world's first naturally decaffeinated coffee plant. 

During the story, our coffeehouse manager Clare serves these cookies at an elegant tasting party for the experimental new coffee. She caters it with her staff on the 26th floor of a New York landmark, where a guest goes over the balcony to the sidewalk below. Did he jump? Or was he pushed? Clare is on the case. As for these "little nibbles," as she calls them, they are a favorite in my Italian-American family. 

Just as Clare would, I made my own adaptations to the family recipe. The brown sugar in my ingredient list is not traditional, but I find it adds a nice complexity to the cookie's flavor. Also note that dipping an overly delicate butter cookie into a beverage would crumble it. That's why these are not typical butter cookies! As my family does, I knead the sticky dough with flour. We intentionally develop the gluten, which gives a slightly more biscotti-like crunch. 

Don't forget that dunking your "Queen's Cookies" into a breakfast coffee or afternoon glass of tea or wine is part of the Italian gastronomic experience. So take a little Rome into your home, and eat like a queen with my version of Biscotti Di Regina. 

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

~ Cleo Coyle

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Biscotti di Regina (Queen's Cookies) 

by Cleo Coyle

Makes 2 dozen cookies


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt (or finely ground sea salt)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup white, granulated sugar
¼ cup dark (or light) brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
¾ cup raw or toasted sesame seeds


Step 1 – Make the dough: First preheat oven to 350° F.  and prep a cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper or lightly greasing. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Next add the eggs and vanilla and blend well with an electric mixer. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, blending into a sticky dough.

Step 2 – Lightly knead the dough: Turn out the dough onto a floured flat surface. With floured hands, knead lightly until the dough is smooth but pliable (like Play-Doh).

Step 3 – Form the logs: Using your hands, break off small pieces of dough. Shape each into a walnut-sized ball about 1-inch in diameter. Roll the balls lightly between your palms to form little logs about 2-inches long (see my photos below). Once all the logs are formed, move to the next step.

Step 4 – Finish and bake: Place the milk in one bowl, the sesame seeds in another. Roll each log in milk to dampen it all over. Then roll it in the sesame seeds. Take your time and coat each cookie well with the seeds.

TIP: As you see in my video loop below, use one hand for dipping each cookie in milk, and the other for rolling in seeds. Otherwise, you may end up spreading seeds into the milk and getting extra milk into the seed bowl, making a clumpy mess. (Ask me how I know. :))

Place the seeded cookies on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving room between each for rising. 

Bake in a 350 F. oven for 20 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack before serving with coffee, tea, or wine. May you dunk with joy!


Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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