Sunday, August 17, 2014

Semolina Shortbread Sandwich Cookies... with Caramel!

I have a recipe today for you, not just pictures of summer randomness!

A few weeks ago I went to this restaurant called Il Corvo. It is a tiny pasta restaurant that is open from 11am-3pm (or until they sell out of whatever fresh pastas made that day.) The menu changes daily, reflecting the mood of the chef. It is head to toe legitimate.

On this particular day, it was hot as hell outside. As we were leaving I told Jeff I wasn't even hungry and that I probably wouldn't eat much. I then proceeded to eat olives, fresh focaccia dipped in olive oil, thinly sliced prosciutto, pasta and a life-changing shortbread cookie. Famous last words.

If you are in the Seattle area go to Il Corvo. It was recommended to me by a few people and for good reason. The menu is small (three pastas choices and a handful of small appetizers to pick from) so do what we did and go in a group so you can get and try everything.

As I mentioned I had a life-changing shortbread cookie. It was two pieces of the crumbliest shortbread sandwiched together with a little bit of salted caramel. The texture is what got me... crumbly/melt-in-your-mouth buttery. I had to make it.

Meet canestrelli.

After trial, error and a little research I figured out the secrets to the shortbread of my dreams: semolina flour, corn starch and hard boiled egg yolks. Please keep reading! I was grossed out at the thought of hard boiled eggs in cookies too, but I am a believer now.

Canestrelli is shortbread made with hard boiled egg yolks in place of raw eggs. The yolks are pressed through a strainer/sieve which turns them into a fine powder. This powder gets mixed with semolina, all purpose flour, cornstarch, butter, a pinch of salt and powdered sugar- fairly ordinary ingredients that come together to make outrageous cookies.

Make these! Or go to Il Corvo! Or better yet, do both.

Il Corvo
217 James St, Seattle, WA 98104

Semolina Shortbread Sandwich Cookies (Canestrelli) 
recipe inspired by Il Corvo and
yields just over 1 dozen sandwich cookies

6 1/2 oz butter, room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 c AP flour
1/2 c semolina flour
3/4 c corn starch
3 egg yolks, hard boiled and cooled completely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
a  half batch of this caramel, for sandwiching (I suggest making the caramel the day before baking the cookies... once it is cooked to 230F, strain it into a clean bowl and allow it cool completely before covering with plastic wrap. You can refrigerate the caramel overnight, just bring it to room temperature before attempting to spread it on the cookies!)
- - -
1. In a medium bowl whisk together flours, corn starch and salt; set aside
2. Press egg yolks through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside (this will prevent any lumps in your cookies)
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy; add egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until just combined
4. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until just incorporated
5.  Sandwich dough between two pieces of plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.
6. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and pre-heat oven to 325F
7.  Roll the dough, still sandwiched between the two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper, to about a 1/2" thickness; cut out with a small (1 1/2") circular cookie cutter**
8. Press leftover scraps of dough into a disk between two pieces of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before cutting more cookies
9.  Place cut cookies 2" apart on your prepared baking sheets and bake at 325F for 18-20 minutes (the edges/bottoms will brown slightly)
10. Cool completely before sandwiching with this caramel

**Traditional Canestrelli cookies are cut into a flower shape and dusted with powdered sugar once cooled, I used a different shape so that I could make mine into sandwich cookies

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