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Canistrelli (An Italian Hazelnut Shortbread Cookie)

By The Garden of Yum

Canistrelli is a delicious, shortbread-like cookie that is made with almond flavoring and topped with chopped hazelnuts.  It is a light and buttery cookie loaded with nutty flavor.  

Okay if you were wondering, I did not fall of the healthy bandwagon; I just took a U-turn to Butterville!  I think if I made one more thing with oat bran in it I would have had a mutiny on my hands. 

The preparation for this cookie to me is a little unconventional.  When the dough is prepared, you knead it for five minutes and then set the dough aside for 1/2 hour in a covered bowl.   I am not sure what the kneading does for the cookie, but that is what is says in my recipe given to me by a very dear friend of my husband's family, a woman born in Italy whom I have become good friends with as well and shared many recipes.  Did you ever meet someone and you immediately like them and you feel as if you have known them forever?  Well that is how I felt about this lady.  Though, much older than I, we became fast friends.  I would visit her around Christmas time each year, and her dining room would be filled with cookies she had baked for the holiday.  Of course, I asked for all of the recipes and shared some of mine with her as well.  So this is how she makes this canistrelli, and I follow the recipe as it was told to me.

To make this cookie,  cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

   Add almond extract and egg and mix well. 

 In a separate large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.   Gradually add to wet mixture.  Mix well.

Knead dough for five minutes on a lightly floured surface.  The dough is very sticky.  So you will have to keep flouring the surface to prevent dough from sticking.  Place dough back in the large bowl you mixed the flour in.  Cover with a towel and set aside for 1/2 hour.

  Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface in an oblong shape until 1/4 inch thick.

Using a pastry cutter (I use a pizza cutter), cut in strips about 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches.

  Use a fork to make indentations in the dough.

  Use a spatula to gently place on greased cookie sheets.

  Sprinkle with hazelnuts.  Gently press hazelnuts into cookies slightly.  Sprinkle with grated chocolate if desired.   I used dark chocolate.  My husband liked them better without the chocolate.  I still cannot decide whether I like them better with or without the chocolate.  I think both.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown.  Allow to cool on baking sheet for a minute or two.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  I forgot to.

1 Cup of butter
1/2 Cup of sugar
2 Teaspoons of almond extract
1 Egg 
2 Cups of flour
2 Teaspoons of baking powder
A pinch of salt
3/4 Cup of chopped hazelnuts
1/4 Cup of grated chocolate (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional for dusting on top)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease baking sheets.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add almond extract and egg.  Mix well.  In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add to creamed mixture.  Mix well.  Knead dough for five minutes on a lightly floured surface.  The dough is very sticky.  So you will need to keep lightly flouring surface.  Place back in bowl you mixed flour in and cover with a towel.  Set aside for 1/2 hour.  Roll dough out on a floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut dough into 1 1/2 inch by 2 inch strips.  Use a fork to create indentations in the cookies.  Use a spatula to gently lift and place on greased baking sheets.  Sprinkle with hazelnuts.  Gently, lightly press nuts into cookies.  Top with grated chocolate if desired.  Bake at 425 for about 8 minutes until edges are lightly golden brown.  Watch closely because due to the high heat, they can be over cooked easily.  Allow to cool for a minute or two on baking sheets and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

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