Italian Sesame Seed Biscuits or Biscotti di Regina biscuits of the Queen are not-too-sweet, salty, nutty, crisp and crunchy.
Great with or dunked in a good mug of coffee. That’s if you don’t mind the odd sesame seed and crumb or two in your mug. How many of you are screwing your face up at that idea?!
I have no idea why they are named Queen biscuits / biscuits of the Queen. Maybe a particular Queen enjoyed eating them or it could be the jewelled appearance of the biscuits. After all Queens are known for their love of jewels.
These sesame seed biscuits are originally from Palermo, Sicily but are diffused all around Sicily.
Sicilian cuisine has a lot in common with Italian cuisine. It also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences.
If you are Italian and/or know the reason behind the name, please do let me know in the comment section below ⬇.
The general difference between a cookie and a biscuit is in texture. Cookies are soft and chewy while Biscuits are hard and snap.
I wanted a different experience than Makrout or Ka’ak and while I was thinking of home-making Tahini – toasted sesame seed paste/butter, to make my favourite cookies, I wasn’t sure how they would turn out as I’ve only ever used store-bought Tahini for that recipe. Also no chocolate at home people.
I stumbled across this recipe which I’ve adapated, when I was looking up a cookie/biscuit recipe to use up the surplus of sesame seeds sitting in my cupboard since Ramadan – Baking for Eid.
Biscotti di Regina are quite easy to prepare. This recipes uses a mix of extra virgin olive oil (any olive oil would work because the flavour doesn’t come through) and sunflower oil. The traditional version uses butter. Somehow I didn’t think Italians used much butter as they are famously known for their love of olive oil.
Toasting the sesame seeds is the only real pain in preparing the biscuits but don’t skip it! I lightly toasted the sesame seeds in the oven and as you can see the sesame seeds on the baked Biscotti sesame seeds are still only a light golden brown.
Reminds me of sesame seed hamburger buns. As a kid and young adult I ate a lot of hamburgers and I loved the flavour toasted sesame seed buns added to the burger experience. That and pickled gherkins. Do I sound like I’m experiencing pregnancy cravings? I’m not I promise.
Unlike other Biscotti that are baked twice, first as a log then cut and baked again. These Sicilian Biscotti are individually shaped by hand then baked.
Yes the bake is rather a long one, 25-30 minutes and essential for that crisp, crunchy nuttiness we want in our sesame seed biscuits. Also your kitchen will smell lovely for longer!
The flavour is a pleasant mix of slightly sweet, salty and NUTTY. Just like those Tahini cookies (minus the chocolate!) I mentioned earlier, with a lot more crunch.
If you’re NUTS! about nutty flavours, Tahini, sweet and salty combinations these are definitely the biscuits you should be baking in your kitchen at the nearest opportunity.
When you bake these sesame seed biscuits 📷 them and share on social media with #halalhomecooking . I love to see your re-creations!
Not-too-sweet, salty, crisp and nutty Italian Sesame Seed Biscuits - Biscotti di Regina 'Biscuits of the Queen'
- 1/2 cup white (hulled) sesame seeds
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Position an oven rack in the center and preheat oven to 350F / Gas Mark 4 / 180C.
- On an ungreased baking tray, toast the sesame seeds turning occasionaly, until golden, 5-10 minutes. Remove and transfer seeds to a small plate.
- In a large bowl with a fork beat egg and sugar together and then add oils and vanilla while beating and until well blended.
- In another bowl mix flour, salt and baking powder together until well combined.
- Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stir with a fork and bring together by hand to make a smooth dough. It will feel a little oily. Dont be tempted to add more flour.
- Scoop pieces of dough using a measuring tablespoon. First roll into balls then roll them between your hands ever so slightly to form little fat logs about 4cm long and 2cm thick.
- Roll each log in the sesame seeds, tamping the ends in the seeds to finish them.
- Space the Biscotti about 3cm apart on 2 baking sheets and bake first tray of biscuits in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool on the tray a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this step with your second tray. Best served with a cup of coffee.
!When baking the cookies: if using an Algerian gas oven, place the baking sheet one level higher than the middle shelf and using oven gloves lower to the middle shelf when grilling/broiling the tops of the biscuits half-way through the baking time (15mins in) !For healthier biscuits substitute half of the plain white flour for whole-wheat pastry flour. !I didn't have vanilla and used orange blossom water instead. Flavour not noticeable in final so can be left out altogether if you haven't got either at home.
The only downside to these biscuits? the large amount of crumbs and seeds that manage to miss the mouth and scatter far and wide…
On the plus side (there always is one – says the internal pessimist) the sweeping up will burn off a few of those extra calories you have just eaten.