My grandmother’s favorite Christmas cookies.
Actually, they were my grandfather’s favorite, and my grandmother always prepared them for him for Christmas.
Of course, my mother carried the tradition passed down to me.
It would not be the holiday season without at least three, if not four batches of those heavenly little morsels.
Just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect light crunch that will not break off in tiny pieces, with a hint of lemon.
Do not be scared by the amount of butter, once one will be in your hands and you bite into it, you will forget about the amount. You will be in love with them before you know it.
In this Article
What are Canestreletti or Canestrelli?
All my life I heard them be referred to as canestreletti, which means smaller canestrelli.
Originally from the Piemonte and Liguria regions of Italy, Northern Italy. Deliciously soft and buttery texture cookies with a delicious lemony flavor.
They literally melt in your mouth.
Shortbread cookies that are well suited to any time of the day and night. Perfect with your morning espresso, cappuccino, or tea.
Excellent gift idea during the holiday season. Wrap them in a beautiful holiday decorative paper as a present to your family and friends.
Easy to make, you can make quite a few using the smaller cookie cutter. But most of all they will so wonderfully appreciate it as there are no others with such a distinct taste.
Why another recipe?
You will encounter numerous recipes that all differ from mine. I do not add vanilla extract. I also use a combination of powdered sugar, a must or they will not taste the same, as well as granulated sugar.
However, the main difference, I use egg yolks versus cooked eggs. Mine are richer in flavor and texture and they will not flake away every time you bite into one.
Baking tips and instructions to make those delightful cookies
It is a straightforward recipe, but follow these suggestions for success;
- Use fresh lemon zest. The flavor that it gives to those little cookies is out of this world. Barely a hint when you bite into it, but just the perfect uplifting from all other cookies.
- Use non-salted butter that is brought to room temperature. Do not melt the butter as it will not allow your Canestrelletti to hold the shape.
- Wrap the dough in plastic saran wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. You want the flavors to blend.
- Work your dough fast as the warmer it gets the softer and less manageable it will get for you. Dividing it and working into batches, will be idyllic.
- Use any of your favorite cookie-cutter shapes. Use smaller ones to enjoy the flavors better.
- I use small hearts, stars, and flowers. Make sure they are all the same size therefore they all will be baking evenly.
- Although there is plenty of butter in those little cookies, I always use either parchment paper or a Silpat to prevent any from attaching themselves to the cookie sheet.
- Wait until the canestreletti are completely cooled down before dusting a generous amount of powdered sugar.
- Do use some of the egg white to brush over the top of them prior to entering the oven. A beautiful golden coat will be kissing them once out of the oven.
- Save the egg whites to make meringues.
How can you store your canestreletti or canestrelli?
Once cooled completely and dusted with powdered sugar, the canestrelletti can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
However, I am quite confident that you will have them all gone before the second day approaches.
Before serving them, dust with a bit of more powdered sugar.
I usually place them under a glass cloche cake stand. Anytime someone walks by, they reach in and help themselves to a few.
Are you looking for more delicious recipes?
Why not try making:
Enjoy those sweet Italian Canestrelli this holiday season, and remember, they are the perfect sweet gift to give.
Equipment and ingredients used to prepare this recipe
I have four and use them all the time. The BEST!
- Mix all the above ingredients until you are able to roll the dough with some ease.
- Let it rest, covered in a dark spot for at least 30 minutes.
- Bake in the oven at 375F for 10 minutes or when golden.
- Let it cool off and sprinkle powder sugar over it.
Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.
Did you make this?
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Originally published on December 18, 2018, updated on November 26, 2021.
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