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Sesame Cookies

Viscotta ca Giuggilena


Giovanni Iapichino came from Palermo, Sicily, to study plant science at the University of New Hampshire, where I met him. One night I invited him to dinner and made a Sicilian meal, which only made him homesick for the food of his native land.

When Giovanni's grant ran out, he returned to Palermo, but a few months later, he sent me his mother's recipe for viscotta ca giuggiulena, sesame seed cookies, as well as a cookbook from Palermo, with this inscription: Grazie infinito per il tuo regalo, spero che questo libro sia d'aiuto nel tuo lavoro. (Many thanks for your gift, I hope that this book will help you in your work.)


2 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 1/4 cups finely ground semolina flour or pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup lard or 1/4 cup lard and 1/4 cup margarine (see Note)

2 large eggs, beaten

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2/3 cup milk

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

2 cups sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

In a bowl, mix the flours and baking powder together, then add the sugar and mix. Add the lard (and margarine) and work it into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse corn meal. Add the eggs and lemon zest, then add the milk a little at a time and work the mixture until a ball of dough is formed.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece on a floured surface into a rope about 12 to 18 inches long and the thickness of your middle finger. Cut the ropes into 2-inch pieces. Dip each piece into the egg wash, roll in the sesame seeds to coat on all sides, and place 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Note: Lard gives these cookies the proper texture and flavor.


  1. Michel's avatar


    Hi - What would happen if I replaced the lard with butter?
  2. Anita's avatar


    Probably a softer texture. My Momis from Puglia and her cookies are soft, tasty, delicious and very vanilla tasting!
  3. jack's avatar


    Thank you So much! I have been searching for this with the semolina.this looks like the real deal! thanks so much
  4. Sherri de Coronado's avatar

    Sherri de Coronado

    Ditto! I have been looking for this recipe!

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