Canestrelli means little baskets and these biscuits are eaten during festive periods such as Christmas and often Easter. They come from the Italian region of Genova and are traditionally made with a dough using hard boiled egg yolks but I’ve decided to use the egg yolks raw in the dough mixture so that the yolk is only cooked once in the oven.
Makes about 12 biscuits
100g butter, just softened but not melted
The yolk of 1 egg
The zest of half a lemon
180g plain flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
50g caster sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
Chop up the butter and let it sit at room temperature to soften.
Blend the egg yolk with the butter until a consistent and yellow mixture appears not too lumpy. You could use a fork. Tip in the lemon zest while it’s beginning to combine.
Sift the flour on a pastry board or in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the vanilla, baking powder, sugar, softened butter with the egg yolk in the middle of the well.
Knead with your hands until you achieve a fairly smooth dough.
Use your hands to compact it and make a ball. Then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or longer if you have time.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 5-6 mm thickness. The dough must be very cold and hard to cut the cookies.
Cut out the cookies using a flower cookie cutter or just a round cookie cutter with a fluted edge. You could make a hole in the centre with a straw or a small pastry tip. Regularly knead the dough and repeat the process to create more cookies.
Transfer the cookies onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Leave at least a gap of about 5cm between each cookie.
Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should look just pale.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool completely. Then generously dust with the icing sugar. They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.