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(Makes about 24 cookies)
Shortbread cookies from Liguiria
Canestrelli are a classic shortbread cookie from the Liguria and Piedmont regions in northern Italy.  They have a characteristic flower shape with a hole in the center and are buttery, light and crumbly.  Canestrelli are not very sweet but are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The interesting ingredient in these cookies is the  addition of hard-boiled egg yolks.  The dough is easy to roll and work with.  Canestrelli are traditionally served at Easter but you can enjoy them any time of year.

3 hard-boiled eggs (just the yolks)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additional confectioners' sugar for dusting

Press the egg yolks trough a fine-mesh strainer. This step will prevent any lumps of egg yolk in your dough.  Set the yolk mixture aside.

In a food processor, combine the flour, cornstarch, confectioners' sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and vanilla; pulse several times to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. Add the egg yolks and process until the mixture comes together into a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured surface.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, working with one piece at a time.  Roll the dough to a thickness of about 3/8-inch.  Use a 2 to 2-1/2 inch flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. If your cookie cutter doesn't have a hole in the center, you can use the wide end of a pastry tip to cut a hole in the middle of each cookie.  Place the cut out flowers on the prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.  The tops of the cookies should be a pale gold (not brown) but the bottoms should be light brown.  Allow the cookie to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Dust generously with confectioners' sugar and store in an airtight container. 
To add color to confectioners' sugar:
Put the amount of confectioner's sugar that you want to tint in a food processor.  Add one drop at a time of gel food coloring.  Process to blend in the color.  Continue to add the food coloring one drop at a time until the desired shade is reached.  You don't want the sugar to get too wet or it will clump and you won't be able to sift it.  Spread the sugar on a plate or piece of parchment paper for a hour or 2 just to be sure that it is dry before using it.  To dust it over the cookies, place the sugar in a small strainer and use a spoon to sift it through.
Electric Mixer
Many of our cookie recipes begin with whisking the dry ingredients, then creaming the butter and sugar.  Creaming is the act of beating room temperature butter with sugar until pale and fluffy.  For this you will need an electric mixer. If you're an avid baker, we recommend using a stand mxer, as it blends more evenly and quickly than a hand mixer. Use the paddle attachment for creaming and the whisk for whipped cream or meringue.
Wire Racks
Also known as cooling racks, they allow air to circulate around baked cookies. They are also useful when decorating, as they allow excess icing or melted chocolate to drip off the cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup.  Choose a rectangular rack that will sit comfortably on your baking sheets.
Parchment Paper and
Silicone Baking Mats
Many cookie recipes recommend lining your baking sheets with parchemnt or silicone baking mats. Parchment is better for crisp-bottomed cookies such as Canestrelli but a mat is good for thin, delicate cookies such as Lace Cookies.  To clean a mat, simply wipe it with a damp sponge and dry it directly on the rack in a warm oven for a few minutes.
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