Traditional recipe for Canestrelli di Torriglia

Easter is usually a time when, as an Italian family, we all get together and celebrate in the best way we know – with good company, lots of great food and our family favourites. However this year, Easter is going to be quite different. The Coronavirus outbreak is keeping our family apart (like many others), but in true Italian fashion, the food will go on!

So, in a slightly different style to my usual blogs, I want to share a few of our family’s favourite celebration recipes with you – the ones that come out for special occasions like Easter, Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries.

To kick off the recipes, I’m starting with Canestrelli di Torriglia – a traditional sweet biscuit from Torriglia near Genoa, which is where my parents first discovered these tasty treats.

Canestrelli di Torriglia are a local artisanal product from the Piemonte and Liguria regions in Italy, and these mouth-watering, buttery cookies are traditionally shaped like flowers. They’re made in quite a unique way and here is the 200-year-old original recipe, or in Italian, la ricetta tradizionale..

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 50ml of rum or spiced rum
  • 1 sachet of vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla essence
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. First, you need to hard boil your eggs and allow them to cool. Once cooled, separate the yolks from the egg whites and set them aside.
  2. To make your cookie dough, add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
  3. Add the chopped butter, vanilla, lemon zest, rum and sugar to the centre of the flour well.
  4. Next, add the hard-boiled egg yolks to the mix by pushing them through a sieve to break them into small crumbs. (It may sound strange, but it works wonders and gives the biscuits a delicious crunchy texture!)
  5. Now, it’s time to get stuck in and use your hands to bind the ingredients together into a firm dough. Don’t overwork it though! When the dough looks smooth and the ingredients are well-combined, it is ready.
  6. Wrap your dough in clingfilm and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Don’t leave it too long, as the dough will become too hard to work with.
  7. Remove your chilled dough from the fridge and dust a clean worktop with flour.
  8. Cut sections off the dough and roll it out evenly with a rolling pin to a 1cm thickness.
  9. Using a flower-shaped cookie-cutter (or whatever shape you fancy), cut out your biscuit shapes and use a smaller cutter to make a round hole on the middle.
  10. Once you have cut out all of your biscuits, place them on a baking sheet lined with grease-proof paper and bake them in the centre of the over at 170 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  11. When cool, dust your biscuits with icing sugar and enjoy them with a coffee.

Your Canestrelli di Torriglia will keep fresh for up to two weeks in a sealed container – but they never last that long in our house! They make a great breakfast biscuit, afternoon snack, or thoughtful gift for friends and family, and they always go down a treat.

Variations

To mix things up a bit, you can try out different variations of Canestrelli di Torriglia, such as adding chocolate chips instead of lemon zest; nuts; orange zest; spices and more.

Did you know…?

An interesting fact about Canestrelli di Liguria, that makes them the ideal treat for special celebrations, is that these biscuits are quite an expensive delicacy in Italy. In fact, they are bought by weight, which is equivalent to the price of gold!

All credit goes to Mamma Iannucci for this special recipe! xx

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