Susan Spungen's Tahini Regini
December 18, 2023

Susan Spungen's Tahini Regini

This recipe comes from our dear friend Susan Spungen.

" The idea for today’s cookie occurred to me one day when I was parking my car near Veniero's bakery in the East Village. I decided to pop in for one of my favorite treats, a Regina Biscotti (or two), a not-too-sweet Sicilian cookie, also called Reginelle. These and the quaresimali are my go-tos at this famous 129-year-old institution. I was deep in thought about this year’s cookies at the time, and I wondered how it would be to add some very non-traditional tahini to these simple sesame-crusted cookies in keeping with the sesame theme and flavors.

If you’re into crunchy, you’ll be into these. They are tinged with the bright taste of orange zest that lingers pleasantly in your mouth, as well as anise seeds that give them a special flavor. If you are convinced that you hate anise, I give you permission to leave it out, but I promise you it’s subtle, and gives the cookies a complexity that I really want you to try! Good ol’ vanilla adds its cookie-ness, and the tahini adds a mysterious background flavor that borders on savory and makes the texture more delicate than the original."

½ c sesame seeds 
2 c/256 g all-purpose flour 
½ c plus 1 tbsp/112 g granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 large navel orange 
½ tsp anise seeds
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder 
4 tbsp/56 g cold unsalted butter, cut up
3 tbsp Seed + Mill Organic Tahini
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ c whole milk


1. Heat oven to 350℉. Toast the sesame seeds on a small sheet pan, shaking occasionally until evenly one shade darker, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

2. Combine flour, sugar, orange zest, anise seeds, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and tahini and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse until a dough forms. Transfer to a bowl, knead a few times to make sure everything is well mixed, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for about 30 minutes (or as long as 2 days ahead).

3. Pour the milk into a shallow bowl, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pinch off a ball of dough (23 g if you’re weighing), and roll it into a round ball between your palms. Then roll back and forth between your palms to form it into an oval shape.

4. Plop it into the milk, and then into the sesame seeds. Coat the dough ball with sesame seeds by gently shaking the bowl. Repeat with all of the dough, setting the coated cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

5. Bake both sheets, placing one in the top third and the other in the bottom third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until turning golden at the edges and on the bottom. Reverse positions of the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.

6. Remove cookies from the baking sheets to a wire rack to cool completely, then store airtight for a week or two. You can freeze them for longer.