Canestrelli – A Fabulous Italian Shortbread Cookie

My husband, Scott, has been telling me that I need to change the name of the blog. What do you think? I really like calling it The Café Sucré Farine but he says I need to call it ………………….
……………… The Crazy Cook ……………

Why?  Well, we’re vacationing this week at the South Carolina Coast. He says that most people take a vacation to get away from cooking but me…………….. oh no, I have a blast cooking and trying out new recipes for my sweet family to enjoy! I guess it’s just part of my love language.

 If you’re a regular visitor at The Café, you know that I’m forever including fresh herbs in my culinary adventures, especially in the summer when the herb garden is going crazy. So …………. I brought just a few sprigs along………………… Scott took the picture below just to explain why he thinks I should change the name of the blog.  I thought that everyone brought their herb garden along on vacation ………….. no? 🙂

Please don’t be telling me that you agree with him! ……………..let’s just talk about something else …………..


I teased you last week with pictures of these delicious Italian Canistrelli Cookies. I shared that the recipe was a bit unusual and I think you’ll agree. I’ve never seen a cookie recipe that called for ……………. are you ready? ………………. hard boiled egg yolks! Yes, you read that correctly; hard boiled egg yolks!

The egg yolks are hard cooked before adding to the rest of the dough ingredients. After  cooling, the yokes are pressed through a fairly fine sieve. The rest is similar to a traditional shortbread recipe. The cookies are rolled quite thick, cut in shapes, and baked until pale golden.

The results are hard to describe; buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, not too sweet ……………. and they look just gorgeous on a cookie tray or beside a bowl of ice cream or sorbet. I served them last week with my Fresh Cherry-Limeade Sorbet – a delightful combination!

If you’re looking for something unique, delicious and sure to bring rave reviews, pass a tray of these lovely Canestrelli at your next gathering of family/friends. Just don’t be surprised if there are only crumbs remaining when it comes back to you!

Oh, one last thing about the Canestrelli; make SURE, if you taking pictures of these cookies, that you don’t turn your back, even for a moment, on the photographer ……………. you might just see this:

Check back on Wednesday for a recipe from one of our favorite beach picnic lunches: Herbed Naans (another 5 Minute Bread Recipe!) and one of the most fun sous chefs you’d ever want to meet!

Canestrelli – Italian Shortbread Cookies

6 ½ ounces butter, (13 tablespoons)
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup corn starch
3 hard boiled egg yolks, see notes
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
powdered sugar for dusting


1.With an electric mixer combine butter, sugar and mix until well combined. Add salt and vanilla.

2. Press the egg yolks through a fairly fine-mesh strainer and add to the the butter/sugar mix, then beat until well combined. Don’t skip the egg-straining, or you’ll end up with lumps of egg yolk in your dough.

3. Add the flour and the cornstarch to the butter mix, taking care not to overwork (and warm) the dough. Sandwich the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, or parchment paper, then pat flat into a disk and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 325˚F (160° C). Roll the dough, still sandwiched between the two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper, to about a 3/8 inch or 1 cm thickness and cut with a 2 inch flower-shaped cookie cutter. If your cutter doesn’t have a hole cut-out in the center you can use the cap of a marker. To avoid the dough clogging the cap, place a piece of plastic wrap slightly larger than the cookie cutter over the cookie, then cut the hole. The dough from the hole, wrapped in plastic wrap, will still get inside the cap, but you can easily pull it off and set it aside with the other scraps of dough.Take leftover scraps of dough, press them together and place between two pieces of plastic wrap. Press dough into a disk and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or freeze for 10 minutes, then cut more cookies.

5. Place the cookies on sheet pans lined with parchment paper, two inches apart, and bake for 18-20 minutes or until pale golden. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer onto a wire rack until completely cool. Dust with powdered sugar, then store in an airtight container. These keep well and are supposedly even better after a day or two. It’s hard to keep them that long around my house.
~ To boil the egg yolks, you can either boil whole eggs, then discard the boiled egg white  or you can boil the egg yolks separately. To boil only the egg yolks: bring water to the boil in a small pan. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, then place the egg yolks gently into the boiling water using a spoon. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and let cool.
Adapted from Cristina Colli

39 thoughts on “Canestrelli – A Fabulous Italian Shortbread Cookie”

  • I needed a recipe for Italian Biscuits and this recipe was perfect to go with the Chocolate Hazelnut Semifredo with Hot Chocolate Sauce I made for a friends birthday. They turned out so light and yummy.
    Thank you

  • I love these cookies! So special for baptisms, weddings & the like. Will you please tell me. Ifthese freezewell? I would like to make them in advance for my son’s baptism. Thank you!!!

  • at a former work place (i am a pastry chef) my late boss and mentor (when i was an apprentice) was an old italian man. he used to make a boiled egg yolk shortbread. when i left there it wasn’t a recipe i had in my folder and he has since passed away. feeling nostalgic i looked up ‘boiled egg yolk shortbread’ and this page came up. i’m going to make these tomorrow, have a cup of tea and remember years past and one of the people that helped shape my life. thank-you for sharing this recipe <3 <3 <3

    • Thank-you, it was really nice to go through the process of making the dough, cutting, baking then sitting down with a cup of hot tea and remember someone that meant a lot to me. I’m actually making them again tonight, with the addition of some lemon zest and a touch of dried rosemary from my garden, so they will be as bittersweet as my memories <3
      I hope you’re having a wonderful day <3

    • I love your adaptations, they sound fabulous! It’s wonderful that certain foods can transport us to another time in our life. Kind Regards, Chris

  • Chris, when I saw the blog title and your intro, I went in a whole different direction thinking he was going to say that your blog needs to be called something to do with shortbread cookies because you only have zillion different recipes for them! I take it you kinda like it, huh? 🙂 I think it’s so charming and lovely that you brought your herbs with you and it’s the kind of crazy thing I would do too! So if you’re crazy…at least you’re in good company. 🙂

    I saw a cookie recipe with hard boiled egg yolks on Annie’s Eats, but it was a hard, dry cookie–they butter cookies you get in a tin at Christmas time. Truly, these soft ones appeal to me way more! I think I’m going to have to try them.

  • My sister is on vacation and I looked at some of the photos she posted of where they are staying and saw her food processor and her pepper mill on the counter, so don’t feel bad!! 🙂

  • Oh, that last photo made me smile!

    Interesting cookies…but if they taste as good as they look, I don’t care about any extra steps needed to make them 🙂 Another winner!

    PS…if you’re crazy, I’m crazy 😉

  • I too love to use cooked egg yolks to make cookies…they are so melt-in-mouth delicious!
    I think your husband must have messed up ‘creative’ with ‘crazy’. Maybe crazily creative?

  • i dont think you’re a crazy cook, i think you are a superb cook! never come across cooked egg yolks in a cookie recipe, this sure is a bit rare, i would love to try them out! They look very is the little chef there!

  • These cookies look delicious and beautiful. I totally love shortbread, so I am definitely going to try these. Yes, the hard-boiled egg yolks sound strange, but I’m game.

    By the way, not to belittle Scott, but I think you need to keep the beautiful blog name you have.

  • I love canestrelli! Although I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a recipe using boiled eggs to make them… Well you learn something new every day!

  • What pretty cookies! An unsual method but they look scrumptious. No shame in bring your herbs along with you on vacation – I think it’s a great idea! I love naan so I’m looking forward to your next post :).

  • The cookies are just beautiful and I have no doubt they are delicious. I also like the naan. I hope you are enjoying your vacation. Have a great time. Blessings…Mary

  • Crazy cook,I love your cookies!It is wonderful that you are so passionate about cooking!A token of love to the ones you love,right?Have fun and cook as much as you can,dear Chris, so that we enjoy your recipes!Many kisses from Greece!

  • Shortbread? I’m in! I’ve heard of cookies like this. Now I’ve got a recipe to try that I trust.

    If I had my own personal photographer, I would gladly let him eat every last cookie. How blessed you are.

  • The eggs are new to me. The cookies look fantastic. And your sous chef is adorable 🙂

  • Your husband should know by now that we’re all crazy! Really – who takes photos of their food? Tell him we’re just passionate!

    Your cookies look lovely. Enjoy your vacation!

  • Oh the cookies are beautiful! I love cooking on vacation – having an audience and eager dinner guests is the best! I really love your assistant – can’t wait to see her in action! More photos please.

  • Love your blog, very funny the part of “don’t turn your back, even for a moment, on the photographer”(eating your cookies)hahahaa… makes me smile! Next time tell him to eat the whole thing!.

  • I actually have seen a soft-boiled yolk used in a recipe for French Butter Cookies from Cooks Illustrated. Odd, isn’t it? But it sure makes for a soft and tasty cookie. Your cookies look absolutely scrumptious.

  • I really don’t think that you’re crazy… telling you this would be admitting that I’m too… So passionate about food, cooking, fresh ingredients… In fact, I went to the market yesterday and I went crazy… I came back with so much veggies and herbs that my Man looked at me as I was crazy… Anyway, these cookies with hard boiled egg yolks looks perfect. I’m so looking forward for your recipe of naan and your cute sous-chef experiment!

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