Biscotti Regina {ModBak} — Not Just for Dunking

I know what you’re thinking: biscotti — one of those sliced and double-baked biscuits great for dunking in coffee or tea but tooth-shatteringly hard on their own. And most of the time, you’d be right. But the word biscotti in Italian simply means “cookie”. And the biscotti we’re talking about today are just that: cookies.

I don’t know much about Italian history, but I know I would have loved Queen Margherita di Savoia, the Queen consort of Italy during the reign of her husband, Umberto I. The Queen (the regina in biscotti regina) had such a sweet tooth that she used to visit local bakeries and sweets shops with her ladies in waiting. And if she really liked the treats she found, she was known to ennoble the pastry shop owner, bestowing on him the rank of cavaliere (knight). Now that’s my kind of royal.

These cookies are not as sweet as others I have made thus far in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge. The recipe, which makes 40 good-sized cookies, only calls for 1/2 cup sugar. In addition to the sugar, the dough contains flour, baking powder, salt, butter, vanilla, and eggs. The dough mixed up quickly in the food processor and came out moist and powdery.

After a few turns on the pastry board, the dough came together into a nice ball.

I shaped the dough into a cylinder, half of which I set aside. I divided the other half into four pieces.

To form the cookies, I rolled each piece of dough into a rope, …

… cut the rope into 3-inch pieces, …

… and dipped the pieces in an egg wash, then white sesame seeds.

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to making cookies, and I usually shy away from recipes that require rolling, shaping, or dipping. In this case, after shaping the cookies, they had to be double dipped — first drenched in egg wash, then rolled in sesame seeds. But it all came together very quickly, and I didn’t find the process at all tedious. In fact, I kind of enjoyed making them.

I baked the cookies at 325°F for 30 minutes, until they were firm and the sesame seeds looked nicely toasted.

I was curious to try these cookies. I knew they wouldn’t be overly sweet; and with the sesame seed coating, I wondered if they’d taste like cookies at all. They weren’t as sweet as most cookies I’m used to; and the seeds did lend a savory element. But these little babies were more than the sum of their parts. Sweet, savory, slightly crunchy, good for dipping or eating out of hand. I enjoyed these cookies more than I thought I would. And I’ll definitely be making them again.

And if you’re wondering what I did with the other half of the dough, check back in a few days to read about my Sicilian Fig Bar (mis)adventure.



  1. March 26, 2012 at 8:36 am

    […] recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Unlike the biscotti regina I made back in January, which was actually a cookie (biscotti is, after all, “cookie” […]

  2. Renee said,

    January 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Biscotti just aren’t my thing but that probably goes with my aversion of hot liquids so cookies one dunks in hot liquids just aren’t my cup of tea. I realize you can eat them on their own and it sounds like these then weren’t quite as “hard” as biscotti often can be. I like the savory and sweet balance these seem to hit.

  3. Margaret said,

    January 12, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Interesting cookie. Not very sweet with sesame seeds. Will have to make amino batch to see. I am also a lazy cookie maker. Mix drop bake is more my style.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      I’m a big fan of bar cookies.

  4. January 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    […] dough for the fig bars is the same dough used to make biscotti regina. I made a double batch of the biscotti dough, half of which I used for the regina, and the other […]

  5. Kayte said,

    January 10, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Wow, great process photos of it all…the cookies look fun and cute which is always a good thing in a cookie. Nice job.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Good is good. I don’t care so much about cute.

  6. Melanie said,

    January 10, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I’m curious about these now. I’ve only made biscotti in the typical twice baked fashion and I always jump at making something new/different. I also need something good to dunk in my morning coffee and that wonderful looking plate of biscotti above looks perfect for dunking.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      They were great for dunking and for eating plain.

  7. Pamela said,

    January 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    These look great, and I am not usually a fan of things with sesame seeds. I know that my husband’s Italian family would absolutely enjoy these, though.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I love sesame seeds, but not usually in sweets. These are so curiously delicious and addictive, though.

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