Polenta Cookies  

Corn Meal Cookies

(“Biscotti di Polenta”) 

 

In the Northern part of Italy corn is abundantly grown for fodder, to make corn oil and also ground into corn meal to make polenta, a very popular mush served as a side dish to main courses of meat or fish.  

Corn flour is also used in baking some delicious cakes and a few varieties of cookies. 

The polenta cookies I tasted in Emilia-Romagna bear a resemblance to the following recipe: simple flavor and uncomplicated taste.  

But if you like, you can add raisins, or chocolate chips or candied orange strips.  

                       Polenta Cookies

Makes 40 to 50  

Ingredients

 

  • 2 cups of polenta (corn flour ) instant or fine ground  
  • 2 cups all purpose flour  
  • 2 sticks of sweet butter at room temperature (1/2 lb.) 
  • 1½ cups of sugar  
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Zest of orange or lemon  
  • 2 pinches of ground cloves or ginger 
  • 2 drops of vanilla 
  • ¼ cup milk ( if needed) 
  • Flour for dusting or to add 
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar for sprinkling on top 

 

 

 

Preparation 

 

The Dough 

Place in a large bowl and combine the sugar and the butter. 

Sift and mix the polenta, the flour, baking powder, salt and transfer into bowl; mix well.  

 

Pour in the eggs, zest of orange or lemon and use your hands to mix it until it will shape into coarse crumbs of different sizes. Add the cloves or ginger and the vanilla. 

Transfer to a working table and if dough is sticky, add some flour, if it is too dry add some of the milk to moisten it. 

Knead until the dough is malleable, smooth and easy to work; bring the mixture together to form a ball. 

Do not over mix. Do not handle dough more than necessary. 

 

The Cookies 

Preheat oven at 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.  

Divide dough in 2 pieces and knead briefly to compact. On a floured working surface, roll out one piece to ¾ inch thick.  

Should it be difficult to roll out the dough, place it between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll to the desired thickness. 

Cut the dough into 1 inch square and shape each piece into a smooth sphere, place onto the baking pan, press lightly and place the cookies 1 inch apart from each other; or use a round cutter 1½ inch across and place round pieces onto baking pan. 

Knead the other piece of dough with any scrapes, compact it and roll it out piece to ¾ of inch thick, and follow above directions. 

Sprinkle cookies with sugar sprinkles or granulated sugar; if the cookies are too dry, use a pastry brush to lightly wet the surface of the cookies and then sprinkle with sugar.  

 

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are a golden color.  

The cookies will be soft when warm; will become crunchy when allowed to cool. 

 

Variation 

Cookies can be sprinkled with colored sugar, chocolate shavings or chips. 

Chopped nuts, diced candied orange peels or raisins can be combined into the dough.