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Italian Canestrelli Cookies

Canestrelli cookies possess a unique charm that sets them apart from other shortbread-like treats. While sharing some similarities with their buttery counterparts, these traditional Italian cookies from Liguria boast a lighter texture and an added crunch, accompanied by a more profound flavor profile. The subtle nuances of vanilla and lemon are expertly woven throughout each bite, making for an irresistible treat. As a result, Canestrelli cookies have earned a special place in many holiday traditions, including Christmas, springtime, or Easter celebrations. Their distinctive flower shape and inviting aroma only add to their appeal, ensuring that everyone will fall under their spell. When enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee or soothing glass of tea, these Italian delicacies are sure to become a beloved morning ritual.

While exploring the world of Italian cookies, you may also want to consider other mouthwatering options like panetonne, Italian Rainbow Cookies, Limoncello Italian Wedding Cookies, or Gingerbread Pizzelle. Each has its own unique charm and would undoubtedly complement Canestrelli’s delectable character.

Why You’ll Love Them

Making melt-in-your-mouth canestrelli cookies with hard-boiled egg yolks is surprisingly effortless, despite their elegant appearance. The simplicity of this recipe will win you over. For Italians, these sweet treats might be a familiar favorite, but for everyone else, the addition of hard-boiled egg yolks and flower-shaped designs will add an air of uniqueness to your baking. As a holiday gift idea, canestrelli cookies are a thoughtful and easy-to-make option. To take them to the next level, thread string or decorative ribbon through the cookie’s center hole for a charming presentation that’s sure to impress.

How to Make Italian Hard-Boiled Egg Yolk Cookies

Combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add butter and vanilla, blending until a dough forms. Next, incorporate cooked mashed egg yolks into the mixture. Knead the dough on a floured surface, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least several hours or overnight. Once rested, roll out the dough to the desired thickness and use a flower-shaped or canestrelli cookie cutter to create your cookies. Use a straw, miniature round cookie cutter, or similar tool to create a hole in the center of each cookie. Place the cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until slightly golden. Allow them to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

The Surprise Ingredient in Canestrelli Cookies

The allure of Canestrelli cookies lies in their delicate crumbliness, which is heightened by the dusting of icing sugar on top – a warning that you must approach with care to avoid an accidental fashion statement! These quintessential tea time treats are instantly recognizable due to their flower-shaped design. However, what truly sets them apart is the unexpected presence of hard-boiled egg yolks, which lends these Italian cookies their signature texture and depth of flavor.

While traditionalists swear by lemon zest as the preferred citrus accompaniment, feel free to experiment with orange or lime for a fresh twist. This Northern Italian delight offers endless opportunities for creative expression – why not try multiple versions and find your new favorite? The result is a sweet indulgence that’s sure to satisfy your cravings.

What Does ‘Canestrelli’ Mean?

Italian in origin, the name ‘canestrelli’ literally means little baskets. This reference dates back to when these cookies were traditionally baked and allowed to cool down in woven baskets. While we now use wire racks for a more efficient process, the term has stuck. With the aid of modern appliances like food processors, crafting perfect canestrelli is easier than ever. The origins of this beloved cookie date back over 500 years to Torriglia, a quaint village near Genoa. In medieval times, canestrelli played a significant role in special occasions, serving as a thoughtful gift for celebrations like religious feasts and weddings. When presented with their distinctive flower-shaped design, it was instantly recognizable that a delicious treat was being shared.

Traditional Italian Cookies

In Italy, a distinct Ligurian variation of these classic hard-boiled egg yolk cookies has gained popularity over the years. Characterized by their pale hue and delicate flower-like shape, this regional take on the traditional cookie demands attention to detail during its final stages of baking. Unlike other Italian treats that are often golden brown in color, the pale appearance of these Ligurian-inspired cookies is a deliberate choice, requiring bakers to keep a close eye on them towards the end of their holiday baking endeavors.

Substitutions and Variations

In reality, there are numerous authentic Italian recipe variations, and this cookie is no exception. For instance, in Piedmont, you’ll find a hard, waffle-shaped cookie that’s distinct from other types. Additionally, some Italians make their cookies by sandwiching thin chocolate wafers with a rich chocolate hazelnut cream, creating a unique and decadent treat.

How to Store Canestrelli

When it comes to storing your freshly baked cookies, there are a few options to consider. For optimal freshness, store them in an airtight container at room temperature where they’ll remain edible for 2-3 weeks. If you prefer to extend their shelf life even further, freezing is another viable option. Simply place the cookies in a freezer-safe bag or container and seal tightly. They can then be stored for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to enjoy them again, simply thaw them out at room temperature or by placing them in the refrigerator.

Canestrelli Recipe FAQs

To achieve the perfect texture and shape in your canestrelli cookies, it’s crucial to use softened butter that hasn’t melted. Mixing melted butter with the other ingredients will cause the dough to lose its structure and result in a cookie that spreads excessively during baking. To combat this, refrigerate the dough until it’s well chilled, which will help retain the desired texture. Additionally, knead the dough quickly and briefly to prevent warming it too much. Some find it helpful to divide the dough into smaller portions for easier handling. When removing the dough from the cookie cutter, use a spoon handle to gently coax it out. Place each cookie directly onto a prepared baking sheet to ensure even cooking. Once baked, allow the cookies to cool completely before dusting them with powdered sugar. These tips are particularly valuable when you’re new to Christmas baking and want to produce delicious results. The canestrelli cookies’ old-fashioned charm makes them an excellent choice for sharing with family and friends during the holiday season. If you don’t already own a flower-shaped cookie cutter, you can easily find one online or at a specialty baking store. Alternatively, use another shape of your preference – though flowers are traditionally used in this recipe.

Italian Canestrelli Cookies Recipe

Italian Canestrelli Cookie Recipe

Italian Canestrelli cookies, a classic shortbread-inspired treat, are a must-have addition to your Christmas baking repertoire. With just 20 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cooking time, you can easily add these delicate egg yolk-based cookies to your holiday baking plans, yielding 16 perfect treats for your festive celebrations.


To begin, boil eggs until hard, then allow them to cool. Once cooled, remove the shells, separate the whites from the yolks, and mash the yolks with a fork. Set the yolks aside for later use.

Next, combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a food processor. Add butter and vanilla extract, processing until the mixture is well combined. Then, add the mashed egg yolks and process until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into two portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough to a thickness of about 1 centimeter. Use small to medium-sized flower cookie cutters to cut out shapes, then use a straw or small round cookie cutter to create a hole in the center of each flower. Place the cut-out cookies on prepared baking sheets and bake for approximately 12-14 minutes.

/Note that the number of cookies this recipe will yield depends on the size of the cookie cutters you use. Once baked, remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. Finally, dust the cooled cookies with powdered sugar.