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Italian Polenta Cookies

Polenta, which is made from cornmeal, is a staple in northern Italy. To achieve an authentic texture, use imported polenta, which is available in most Italian markets and specialty-food stores.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
Italian Polenta Cookies

Source: Martha Stewart Living, November 2005

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Italian polenta, or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, (1 lemon)
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, polenta, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  2. Add egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating after each addition to combine. Mix in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip (such as Ateco No. 826).

  3. Pipe S shapes about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Bake cookies until edges are golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to wire racks; let cool about 10 minutes. Remove cookies from parchment, and transfer to racks to cool completely.

Variations

Martha used a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch star tip (such as Ateco #825), and before baking, chilled the sheet of cookies in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Cook's Note

Try Polenta Bramata, or any dry, grainy coarse-ground cornmeal or polenta. Regular cornmeal from the supermarket is more finely ground, and will yield cookies with a slightly different texture.

Reviews (24)

  • Mn3boys 20 Dec, 2013

    I found that using half oil/half butter allowed me to pipe them out fairly easily. I also use more lemon rind and then lightly coat them in icing sugar mixed with lemon juice.

  • Sandra7824 9 Jun, 2011

    When I first mentioned I was making Polenta cookies everyone was wondering what I was up to. After trying them, they are now a make-again. I didn't have the Italian Polenta, so I used regular yellow cornmeal. The lemon flavour is there. :)

  • jcmaciag 17 May, 2011

    the taste and texture are great, but I could not squeeze it out of the pastry bag, even without a tip, it is very firm, so I made little buttons, not as pretty but good

  • rebeccajane 26 Feb, 2011

    I think these cookies are delicious, however I have not been successful on piping them, my dough is always too tough (I use a small scoop and just make rounds, instead). I would love to be able to pipe them, does anyone have any advice?

  • kcblock 10 Feb, 2011

    I love these cookies but I found it extremely hard to use the pastry bag, it was as if the dough was too thick. I had to fill the bag with very small quantities of dough and warm it in my hands for a long time so I could get it to form a cookie like shown. Anyone got any hints. Martha's video made using the bag look easy

  • Aon 30 Sep, 2010

    I bought Martha cookie book yesterday and Italian Polanta Cookies was the first one I tried.

    I found it gritty as well maybe not for everyone who like this feeling on their mouth such as my mum but it is tasty.
    I have problem that my cookie is going flat during baking, I don't know why ? Can anyone help ?

  • IKelly 23 Aug, 2010

    Delicious and traditional in Italy! I will add that 'polenta' is a preparation: salted hot boiling water, you add yellow cornmeal flour, and let it cook for about 1,5 hour always stirring. You eat it with meat stew, vegetables or butter and cheese (gorgonzola, i.e. blue cheese); Or, you can fry slices of polenta with cheese upon; For children: when cold, you slice it and spread some sugar. Polenta looks like 'grits'. The flour for the cookies is called 'farina di mais' or 'farina gialla'.

  • JacqJacq 14 Aug, 2010

    I make these all the time and everyone raves about them. It is a little hard to pipe out at times, but I leave the dough out a bit and pipe out a whole tray. Place the tray in the fridge and about 15 to 20 minutes later I bake off a sheet pan at a time. They come out perfect everytime! Great cookie!!!

  • MidwestSplendor 1 Feb, 2010

    I found these cookies rather boring. Probably should have tried a better quality corn meal, but I won't bother making these again.

  • cocoisa 30 Jan, 2010

    Hummm que rico voy a probar nunca hice galletas con polenta Muchas gracias.

  • Wiggy1770 1 Feb, 2009

    I thought the idea of gritty polenta cookies wasn't so appealing, so I used masa harina (corn flour) instead, and both the texture and taste were wonderful. I further tinkered with the recipe by using 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup granulated sugar instead of 2/3 cup sugar because corn, lemon, and honey just go together so well.

  • afs 8 Dec, 2008

    has anyone tried making these using a cookie press? specifically, i wonder if i can make them like spritz cookies? thanks for any input!

  • LBarrio 2 Sep, 2008

    I decided to take my chances and bought Wilton's Cookie Pron n n n n n Ultra II cookie press in order to make these (and other types of) cookies, and it turned out to be the best decision I've ever made. The cookie press makes the job so much easier. You might not get the shape shown in the picture, but you'll finish faster and get equally beautiful and delicious cookies.

  • LBarrio 22 Aug, 2008

    I love these cookies. They are easy to make and delicious. I wonder, though, if they can also be made by using a cookie press. I've never used a cookie press before, and some of the reviews I've seen online suggest that they don't always work with all cookie recipes. Does anybody have any advice?

  • daniweg 22 Aug, 2008

    GOOOOODDDD LUCKKKKKKKK

  • donnajeangifford 22 Aug, 2008

    These cookies are light, crispy, and yummy! My kitchen was warm, dough became soft and messy in pastry bag, so... I made drop cookies (slight Tbs.), slightly flattened with a fork, and sprinkled with sanding sugar. Great alternative!

  • namadadi 21 Aug, 2008

    I just made these. Although they are very tasty I wonder if anyone else thought the polenta was a bit too crunchy...kind of like unpopped popcorn kernals. I would be afraid to serve these to guests with delicate dental work and wouldn't be comfortable giving these as gifts. Is it possible the polenta I just bought was old? Did anyone else encounter this?

  • tomahawkcook 20 Aug, 2008

    I talked about this cookie in my job interview today. It was an ice breaker. Now if I get the job I have to make these for sure. I hope they are great. I may make them ahead of time to test them out. Here's to getting a job. Wish me luck.

  • daniweg 20 Aug, 2008

    Really good idea! The dough is a little bit tough but once bakes is great!

  • Osiana 11 Jun, 2008

    I made these for a birthday celebration at work and they were so quick to mix, pipe and bake! Delicious as well! I received many compliments. Love them!!!

  • beautifulyou 11 May, 2008

    This is the 3rd time I am making these cookies. Each time I make them I wonder what took me so long to make them again, they are truly delicious, especially with coffee. If you are looking for a not too sweet cookie, this is your girl. Also, I don't have a pastry bag so I must drop them on a cookie sheet by the teaspoon fulll (I know, tsk, tsk). They turn out pretty nevertheless and the taste isn't comprimised. Margaret from Wellsboro PA

  • pattyg 15 Mar, 2008

    I baked these last night, they are delicious!

  • chiffonade 14 Mar, 2008

    Recipe printed fine - Can't wait to make these! I love polenta :D

  • MiMiO 14 Mar, 2008

    Your recipe for Polenta cookies will not print.

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