Friday, January 2, 2015

Biscotti Regina [The Cookbook]

I meant for this post to go up during the Holiday season, but the best laid intentions, right? The good news is, if you follow the traditional definition of Christmastide (aka the 12 days of Christmas, meaning from the 25th until the epiphany), I've still got 4 days left, so I'm well within the margin of error.

Anyway, today, I'm going to talk about one of my two all time favorite cookies: Biscotti Regina, the queen of cookies.

Over the years, it became a tradition to bake these beauties at my Zia's each holiday season (usually while watching Cary Grant being dangerously charming in The Bishop's Wife), but since moving away from the area it has become increasingly difficult to get back to town in time for the annual cookie bake party. This is but one of the multitude of traditions that my heart breaks a little to leave behind. Growing up is hard...

This year, in the hopes of getting my fix anyway, I decide to bring the tradition of biscotti regina to a cookie party with some good local friends. Hopefully, one day, I will feel as connected to this area as I do my home town.

It's an undertaking to make this recipe. I'm not going to lie to you here. My bisnonna was cooking for a very large and very extended family. I, on the other hand, just have a handful of people (and unfortunately a fair number of them are hesitant to try my recipes when they fall outside their comfort zone). Therefore, I cut this recipe down into thirds. I would have 1/2'd it, but it calls for 3 eggs and I haven't yet figured out how one deals with a 1/2 egg.

I'm not going to tell you it's impossible to do this recipe on your own. Despite my madre's protests when I originally proposed making these cookies on my own this year, I firmly believe it can be done if one has enough patience; however, it is a far more fun and memorable experience with friends and family around you.

 Seed Biscuits (Biscotti ala Regina)
via The Cookbook

Bisnonna Writes: 2 c. sugar, 1lb or 2 c. crisco, 3 eggs, 2 T. baking powder, 2 T vanilla, 8 c. flour, 1/2 c. milk (amy's note: you may need to add a bit more. I found my dough to be rather dry using only this ratio), 1 lb. sesame seeds (toasted), bake 375 degrees for 15 mins.

(Amy's note: You'll notice, as with many of Bisnonna's recipes, there's some missing steps. We'll get to that in a minute. Don't worry.)

Madre adds: If you ever made these with Grandma it was an experience of a lifetime. She always had the job of rolling out the dough and cutting it into little pieces. I always dipped the dough in the milk and got into trouble for getting either seeds in the milk or vice versa. Mom was the one who rolled the dough in the seeds. Sometimes if we were talking too much, they came out really long and skinny. [My brother] used to sneak up after Grandma took them out of the oven and take handfuls for eating later. If you're baking these and some come out a little dark, offer them up to Uncle Frank. He always liked the ones that were a little over baked. He told us they were good for dunking, Another little tidbit to remember is that when you run out of seeds, you can keep rolling the dough and make Aunt Lena cookies. If you're not sure what these are then you're in BIG trouble*. The stories that were shared while baking were priceless!

Amy interprets and fills in the gaps!

  1.  See Bisnonna's notes above for what you need. (You will also need an additional 1/2 cup or so of milk set aside for dipping)
  2. If you sesame seeds aren't pretoasted (and they're cheaper is you buy them this way), bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Combine all other ingredients well in a LARGE bowl (with this amount of flour, using an electric mixer will really help, but obviously isn't necessary).
  4. Take spoonfuls of dough and roll them out into ropes approx. the width of a finger. (Mine are obviously a little thicker than that, do what you can.) 
  5. Cut ropes into smaller pieces. My bisnonna used to claim these should be the size of your first knuckle.
  6. Dip these pieces into milk, then roll in seeds.
  7. Bake ~15 mins at 375
*I will discuss Aunt Lena cookies at a later date, but they are the same dough recipe sans sesame seeds and shapes into little spirals.

No comments:

Post a Comment