Canestrelli – Light & Buttery Italian Cookies

Next time you’re entertaining, make an elegant statement with this light and buttery Canestrelli recipe from the Hatibon blog.

They are originally from Liguria and Piemonte regions of Italy, though hazelnut flour is used in the Piemonte version. To be honest I never tried that one, I’ve been making this Ligurian version for many years as they are very much loved by my husband who spent a few years of his life in the area.

Canestrelli – Light & Buttery Italian Cookies


  • 300 gr butter cut into cubes
  • 250 gr all purpose flour
  • 250 gr corn or wheat starch
  • 100-120 gr icing sugar + more for dusting
  • 5 hardboiled egg yolks
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean or ½ table spoon vanilla extract


  1. First of, pass the egg yolks through a fine sieve and put aside. This step is particularly important as you wouldn't be able to mix it in the dough well enough and end up with lumps if you skipped it.
  2. Sift flour, cornstarch, icing sugar and a pinch of salt in to the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and mix until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yolks and the vanilla bean or the vanilla extract and mix until it all comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170 C (340 F)
  4. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1 cm. thickness and using a cookie cutter of your choice cut out shapes, the traditional shape is the flower with a hole in the middle. Press together the leftover scraps of dough and roll again until you finish it all.
  5. Place the cookies on your oven tray lined with baking paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 18 to 20 mins. What's important is that these cookies should be as pale in colour as possible and if they start to get colour too quickly put the temperature down by 10 C and open the oven door for a few seconds to let the heat out. Once cooked let them cool for 5 to 10 mins. before you transfer them to a cooling rack. When they are completely cool dust with icing sugar. Enjoy with tea or coffee.
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