Cookies fit for a Queen

As I get older, my tastebuds seem to appreciate crunchy, crispy, crackly cookies more than the chewy and gooey ones. But a good crunchy cookie is a challenge  for the baker–it’s so easy for cookies to be hard, instead, through overbaking.

So, from “Cooking with Bon Appetit,” comes Biscotti di Regina (Queen’s Cookies), which are as crunchy as they come–just follow the baking instructions. These are elegant cookies, which would be nice after a meal served with fresh fruit. So Italian!

The flowers in the photo above are from our horsechestnut tree.

Biscotti di Regina (Queen’s Cookies)

1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sesame seed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Blend in melted butter, egg, and vanilla with a spoon, and then knead lightly together with your hands.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 12-inch-long rope (about 3/4″ across). Cut into 1-1/2 inch lengths. Roll in sesame seed to coat completely. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely. Makes 48 cookies.

Baking notes: This is a beautiful dough–so easy to mix and roll out. The key to the cookie’s crunchiness is to bake until the bottoms are a dark golden brown. If baked until the bottoms are light golden brown, the interior of the cookie will be soft. They will be good, just not so crunchy! So the exact time depends on your oven, but somewhere from 19 to 20 minutes should do it.

I have run across a number of recipes for these cookies, some calling for shortening, others rolling the dough in egg before the sesame seed, and still others that are round not oval. But this is a nice buttery, crunchy cookie and I do recommend it.

The photos below show the ingredients, the formed dough, how to measure the dough, and the cookies ready for the oven.

This shows the dark golden brown bottom of the cookie–not burnt! Just a dark golden brown.
Cookies on the left are lighter and softer. Cookies on right are crunchy.

Just a Grackle in a Pear Tree

From afar, this grackle looked quite elegant perched in the pear tree on a rainy day. From up close, though, his beak was full of suet. Love his iridescent feathers!

An Adventure

Last Saturday, Jim and I drove down to Coal City, Illinois, and with other members of ESCONI (Earth Sciences Club of Northern Illinois), went looking for fossils. Here are a few photos of our adventure.

This is a “spoils pile,” which is left over from coal mining operations.
Hunting for fossils.
What we were looking at–full of ground rocks and possible fossils!
Our bucket of possible fossils–they have to be cracked open.
Jim looking at a rock–surprisingly fun!
Our haul. It’s not easy to find fossils, and while we found some of these, others came from a box labeled “for newbies and children!” So some of these come from that box. The small round fossil near the upper left is a little jellyfish. Otherwise, there are many fern fragments. I also found a fossilized seed, and some individual fern leaves. Other things, unidentified!
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