Short and Sweet: Canestrelli Semolina Shortbread Recipe

In October, a big ol' brick of a book will be hitting the shelves in a bookstore near you: The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Classic Recipes for a New Century. It's an updated version of the classic Craig Claiborne-edited New York Times Cookbook , with plenty of classic recipes as well as a large variety of newer ones. 

Now, there are several reasons why you should be excited about this book: more than a thousand, in fact, which is how many recipes you'll find, culled from the venerable newspaper's archives, each of which has a witty and interesting intro by she's-kind-of-a-big-deal editor Amanda Hesser

But right now, we're just going to focus on one: the recipe for Canestrelli, a semolina shortbread featured in the book. Lightly nutty and gritty but plenty buttery, these cookies couldn't be simpler to make (I lightly adapted the recipe to make them as bars instead of cookies), and are a perfect light dessert, and made even more delectable with a sprinkling of fancy sea salt.

I served these at a picnic with buddies Tea and Megan, and they went over quite well!


(Shortbread from Ovada, adapted from Rona Deme's ''Country Host Cookbook'', As seen in the NY Times Cookbook; originally from this article)


  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1/2 pound lightly salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour and semolina and set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, add the butter in small pieces, beating until it is uniformly softened.
  4. Add the sugar and continue beating until the two are creamed together.
  5. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture a cup at a time, continually scraping down the walls of the mixer bowl, and working quickly until the ingredients are just blended. Be careful not to overmix, because the semolina, high in gluten, can toughen the canestrelli. The dough will be somewhat crumbly.
  6. Press the dough together into an 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking pan lined with parchment on the bottom.
  7. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until they begin to blush with color.
  8. Let cool in the pan; when lightly cooled but still warm, score into strips of your desired size. Let cool completely and then remove from pan. They may be stored for two weeks in airtight tins.