Saturday, April 26, 2008

Elegant polenta cookies...

I usually reserve a portion of our Saturday mornings to bake up some snacks for us to have through the weekend. This morning was no different and once I got things together, I started working on these Italian Polenta Cookies.

Rich, buttery and decidedly crunchy, these "S" shaped cookies have a high ratio of cornmeal to flour. To achieve that fantastic bite the cookies have, you are looking for the more jagged and coarse yellow cornmeal for this recipe, not the fine sandy cornmeal you might normally use in baking. To get a full lemon flavor, without adding excess moisture to the cookie dough, we added a full tablespoon of fragrant lemon zest, utilizing the same technique we used in that Lemon Poppy-Seed Tea Cake by rubbing the zest into the granulated sugar.

When the flour and cornmeal are added to the dough, it will be quite stiff with a bit of the flour mixture hiding in the bottom of the bowl. Go ahead and remove the bowl from your mixer and just use your hands to be sure that extra gets completely mixed in. Since I had some sturdy, yet disposable, large pastry bags, I went ahead and filled it with all of the cookie mixture. While it held the sturdy dough just fine, I found it was a little difficult to put enough pressure on it to allow the dough to come out nicely. Once I took about half of it out, it was so much easier - so I would suggest working in a couple batches. You may want to cover the other half to prevent any drying out of the dough.

You don't have to pipe the dough into "S" shapes, you could do "O" or whatever you prefer - I quite liked the curves that this letter provided though. Because the dough is heavy, you may have problems with the parchment lifting up when you are pipping - to solve this, just squirt a little dot of the dough onto the baking sheet to give the parchment something to grab a hold of. With the high butter content, and not a lot of dry ingredients to help absorb the moisture, you will want to freeze the unbaked cookies for about half an hour to control the spreading as they sit in the hot oven. They will be baked enough when the edges just begin to turn golden - you want the centers to be still a little soft in the center as they will firm up as they cool. Because they are still soft, you don't want to try and move the cookies once they are taken out, but you don't want to leave them on the warm baking sheet either. This is where the parchment comes in handy! Gently pull the entire sheet off the pan and place it on a wire rack to continue the cooling process.


  1. Ha ha ha...when I first looked at the title of this post, I thought it said "Eggplant polenta cookies"--I was actually really excited! These look really good too, though!

    Can you believe our weather?! We had snow flurries all day in Minneapolis but nothing stuck. Did you really get an inch in the suburbs?!


  2. Polenta cookies - what an intriguing idea! I went to make some gorgonzola polenta tonight to go with our pork tenderloin - only we were out of polenta! Sigh. The cookies are very pretty, they look a bit like palmiers.

  3. I read it as eggplant polenta cookies too! Joe, can you come up with an eggplant polenta dish???This recipe is right up my alley - I am endlessly searching for Italian cookie recipes since there is no such thing as an Italian bakery in my neck of the woods. Can't wait to try these.....


  4. I baked with cornmeal before making blueberries muffins. Never tried it in cookies yet. The muffins were great. Reporting again on the brownies; my son woke up, this afternoon, and said: mom you have to make more brownies. I said why? He said: I told my friends at school that you made really good homemade brownies and they were jalous because their moms don't bake them goodies. So I said that's nice, so why do I have to bake some more? He said: because they're coming over tonight.

  5. These sound marvelous! Crunchy and lemony!? What a wonderful combination! I've been wanting a lemon cookie and have been looking for something that wasn't basically a sugar cookie. I think you found it for me! Thanks!
    Courtney, I live northwest of the Twin Cities and we had over two inches of snow. Very, very, sad indeed!

  6. Joe - Four days without a post! Me going two months without a post isn't all that unusual, but four days is a lifetime for you! ;) Hope all is well.

  7. Haven't heard from you in a while. Hope everything's okay out there.

  8. Very interesting cookies Joe!
    I see you haven't posted in a while, hope everything is going well with you and Jeff!

  9. Hi Joe, I miss your daily entries. Are you on Holiday?

  10. Joe, here it is May 5 and we have not heard a week from you in over a week. Hope you are on a glorious vacation traveling the world. Please let us hear from you soon! Jancd

  11. Oh, I love the "S" shape! I've never baked with cornmeal. This makes me want to try.

  12. Courtney - We did get just about an inch!

    Alysha - Polenta is well stocked here =*)

    Quinn - Hmm, Eggplant polenta dish may be possible (though not in cookie form!).

    Helene - Go brownies!

    Sue - Did you try them?

    Alysha - The "big cheese" wanted to have a chat!

    Anon - All is well, check out the latest post!

    Ana - Thank you, we are well!

    Helene - Bingo!

    Jancd - Check out the post we just did for Monday, May 5th!

    TBC - Give them a try!

  13. I heard on the news tonight that someone in Minnesota was holding a $180 million dollar lotto ticket. My first thought was Joe and Jeff!! That's why we have not heard from them!! So fill us in on all the details! Jancd

  14. Jancd - If only! Sadly, that winner was not us!

  15. Polenta makes really crispy cookies! Yours look great, cute shape! Can I have one to dip in my coffee? Pleeeeeeeeeease!

  16. CC - All gone now, sorry! However, they are fairly easy to whip up on your own if you wanted some to taste for yourself!

  17. I'm going to try these tomorrow; I have evil plans for them as part of a contest entry for a tomato-themed cooking contest.