This classic Sicilian Christmas cookie known as Angeletti Guiguileni (pronounced JuJuLani) is a favorite on my Italian cookie tray each holiday season. It is much like a biscotti but much softer and not twice baked. It is usually shaped into a small rectangular log. I researched this recipe and found very few recipes for Angeletti Guiguilena (i) with butter. Most recipes use shortening and anise as a flavoring. My Mom's recipe box has a recipe for Sesame Cookies uses the regular technique of creaming the butter, milk for the glue to hold the sesame seeds onto the cookies and then dropped by tablespoon full onto the cookie sheet. Nick Malgieri's version of Biscotti Regina is very similar and he lends a nice bit of history about this cookie. Many more versions are simply called Italian Sesame Cookies. This Italian Sesame Seed Cookie has evolved and been transformed into my recipe collection, updated with lots of butter, King Arthur's Fiori Di Sicilia as a distinct but not overpowering flavoring and a new crescent shape. Techniques are from America's Test Kitchen to add the butter to the flour and then add the whisked and frothed egg mixture to the flour mixture to form a soft but firm dough. A simple sugar syrup is used for glue to hold the sesame seeds on the cookie. I add vanilla sugar for taste and texture to the sesame seeds. A crescent shape gives the cookie a crispier exterior while the butter gives the cookie lots of flavor and crunch. This simple cookie is my favorite for breakfast, tea time or coffee time. —Lorraine Fina Stevenski
about 48 cookies
light brown sugar
large egg yolk
milk or half and half
fiori di sicilia, from King Arthur Flour
2- 2/3 cups
2- 1/2 teaspoons
1- 1/4 cups
butter, softened, 20 tablespoons, cut into about 15 pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 4 rimmed half sheet pans with parchment paper. In a microwave save bowl, whisk together the sugar and water. Microwave for 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool slightly.
MAKE THE DOUGH: In a large mixing bowl, add the light brown sugar, egg and yolk, milk, vanilla extract and fiori di Sicilia. Whisk by hand until frothy. Set aside. With a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on low speed, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. On medium low speed gradually add the butter pieces; mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal; 3-5 minutes. Add the egg mixture and mix on medium speed just until the dough just comes together; about 1 minute. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a few tablespoons of flour. The dough should not stick to your fingers when pinched. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead into a ball. This dough is best not refrigerated but formed and baked immediately. A cool room and surface makes these cookies easier to form.
FORM THE COOKIES: With floured hands break off a handful of dough and roll into a 3/4" rope. Cut the rope into 4" lengths. Dip one side of the rope first in the sugar syrup and then in the sesame seed/vanilla sugar. Place the rope on the cookie sheet and push into a crescent. Place 12 to each cookie sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes or until completely golden brown. Reuse the parchment lined cookie sheets to repeat. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes and then store in a covered cookie jar. This cookie keeps nicely for a week or two. I like to store 8 to a twist tied cellophane bag and then in a cookie jar to keep them the freshest. Tie with a festive ribbon and give to your friends and family as gifts from your kitchen.