ReginaBiscuits  

Biscotti al Sesamo 

Viscuotta’Nciminati o ca’Giugiulena 

Sesame Seeds Biscuits 

The ”Reginaor Reginella“ biscuits are classic cookies originally made in Palermo and baked all over Sicilyand in the Italian peninsula. 

In Palermo the Regina Biscuits are also called “Viscuotta ‘Nciminati” which means cookies flavored with cumin an ancient spice called in Italian cimino or cumino and used to aromatize the Regina Biscuits, andViscuotta ca’ Giugiulena”, a morphed word from gialgiala, Arabic for sesame seeds. 

This crispy-savory cookie originally made with bread dough, has been renovated over the centuries with the addition of sugar, fats, like lard, oil or butter, eggs and various flavoring and in fact the only features remaining of the original cookies are the shape, the crunchiness, and a distant salty taste barely noticeable.  

There are two kinds of reginabiscuit made in Palermoand in Sicily: a savory type baked in bread stores and a sweet kind prepared in pasty shops. 

The frugal and savory version is made with little fat and a small amount of sugar; the bakers call them viscuotta nciminati or ca’ giugilena. These biscuits are crumbly and are aromatized with lemon’s zest or more rarely with cumin or cimino hence the name ‘nciminati

The sweeter version is mostly prepared in pastry shops; they are made with a rich dough called pasta frolla, which contains butter, sugar, eggs and the confectioners call them “Biscotti Regina or Reginella”.

A Tray of 'Nciminati

The Savory Biscuits 

Makes about 36 to 48  Biscuits 

INGREDIENTS  

·   1 lb.all purpose flour plus 2 cups  

·   4 oz. sugar      

·    ¼ cup oil or 2 oz. lard (at room temperature)   

·   1 oz. dry rapid yeast ( 2 envelopes of Fleischman dry yeast) 

·   ½ teaspoon of salt 

·   zest of 1 lemon   

·   ½ cup milk 

·   ½ cup of water and more if needed   

·   6 oz. sesame seeds  or 2 cups 

·   1 cup of flour to dust or to add if needed  

  

  

The Sweeter Biscuits  

Makes about 36 to 48 Biscuits 

INGREDIENTS  

·   1 lb.all purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon 

·   8 oz. or 1 cup sugar      

·   8 oz. or 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)   

·   3 whole medium eggs  

·   1 tablespoon baking powder  

·   ½ teaspoon of salt  

·   1 teaspoon of vanilla extract  

·   ½ cup milk 

·   Water to add if needed   

·   6 oz. sesame seeds or 2 cups 

·   1 cup of flour to dust or to add if needed  

  

PREPARATION   



 

TheSavory BiscuitsDough
Sift together the flour, salt and the dryrapid yeastand place on a working table. Make a well and place in it and combine the sugar, oil, lemon zest, water and milk. 

Mix all ingredients with the help of a fork and then using your hands knead to bring dough together. If mixture is too dry add a few tablespoons of water, if too watery add some flour.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
Prepare pan(s): grease and dust with flour cookie sheet(s). 

 

TheSweeter Biscuits Dough
Sift together the flour, salt and the baking powder and place on a working table. Make a well and place in it and combine sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and milk.  

Mix all ingredients with the help of a fork and then using your hands knead to bring dough together. If mixture is too dry add a few tablespoons of water, if too watery add some flour.
Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
Prepare pan(s): grease and dust with flour cookie sheet(s). 

                             

The Sesame Seeds 

Place the seeds in a pot or working bowl and fill half way with cold water. Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the seeds and place them into a shallow pan. Use sesame seed while they are damp. 

 

Sesame Seeds

 

The Biscuits
Divide the dough into 2 pieces; split each piece in 2 parts. Work one piece at the time. 

 

 

Knead dough to make each piece compact and shape each part into 1 ½ inch roll. Cut it into pieces (about 9 or 10 parts) and form small balls and set on the side. 

Once you finish with the first piece of dough, one at a time transfer each ball into the pan with the sesame seed and roll it so the outside is almost entirely covered with the seeds and form into sticks about 2 ½ to 3 inches long and about 1 inch thick, place into greased pan about 1 inch apart. Proceed with another piece of dough.  

  

The Baking 

When all cookies are ready to be baked, bring the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake the biscotti for 18 to 25 minutes or until the cookies are a golden color.

 

 

Store the regina cookies in an air tight containers up to 2 weeks.