Bright yellow, delicious and so easy to make at home. Italian Polenta Cookies (Zaleti) also contain raisins for subtle sweetness and pine nuts for extra crunch! Try them for your next coffee break or snack!
I don’t know about you, but I do not have a lot of polenta recipes on hand. This particular polenta recipe though, is the primary reason why I always have a container of polenta in my kitchen.
Originally from the region of Veneto, this type of Italian cookies used to be only available during ‘Carnevale’ (Carnival). ‘Used to be’ being the operative phrase there. 😉
Nowadays, you will see them the whole year-round.
HOW TO MAKE ZALETI
WHAT KIND OF POLENTA SHOULD I USE?
I have some friends who hate ‘instant polenta’ – but I have to say, those are the only ones I use whenever I make these cookies at home. I am quite sure the regular polenta (which takes a longer time to cook), will not yield the same result.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not tried using regular polenta for this recipe, so when you have, please correct me here. 🙂
CAN I USE CORNMEAL INSTEAD OF POLENTA?
Yes, cornmeal can also be used as a substitute, but only those coarse ones. Do not expect the color to be so ‘yellow’ though. I only get that intensity from instant polenta.
WHAT OTHER DRIED FRUIT CAN I SUBSTITUTE FOR RAISINS?
I have seen some zaleti recipes that used dried currants or dried dates. I imagine the result would also be good.
However, remember that if you are using dried fruits that are sweeter than raisins, you might need to adjust the amount of sugar in the cookie mix – unless that is how you prefer them.
I have never tried substituting raisins with anything else, because raisins are available everywhere and (most importantly) that is how I’ve enjoyed them in Venice.
Come to think of it, I bet you can also consider zaleti as ‘raisin cookies’, right?
CAN I SUBSTITUTE ANYTHING ELSE FOR LIQUOR?
You could use plain water instead, if you want to totally skip the liquor.
However, if you want to stick to the traditional recipe, you should replace ‘marsala’ with ‘grappa’. I took the liberty of using marsala, because I am not a fan of grappa (hey, I don’t like aquavit either, so don’t take it against me! 😉 ).
One thing that you should not forget is the grated lemon zest. It makes a huge difference in the taste (and aroma) of these raisin cookies.
WHAT DO I SERVE WITH ITALIAN POLENTA COOKIES?
I love them with Prosecco or Lambrusco. 🙂 Nah, you don’t need any ‘frizzante’ or bubbly to enjoy these Italian polenta cookies. A cup of coffee or tea works great with them too!
For storing, just put them in a tight container – and they should be good for a week. Enjoy!
FOR MORE COOKIE IDEAS, CHECK OUT MY COOKIES COLLECTION!
OR IF YOU WANT ANOTHER POLENTA RECIPE, YOU MIGHT LIKE Gnocchi alla Romana!
VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN POLENTA COOKIES (ZALETI)
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Italian Polenta Cookies (Zaleti)
- 1 stick butter, (113 grams), unsalted and room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lemon, grated zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp marsala
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 & 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
- In a bowl, beat sugar and butter until creamy.
- Add beaten egg yolks and mix.
- Add milk, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, vanilla extract, marsala. Mix.
- Add raisins and pine nuts. Mix using a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Slowly add sifted polenta – and then flour – in sections. Combine with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Once properly combined, take a tablespoon of cookie mixture, roll in a ball and flatten into a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Do this until you finished the cookie mixture. Leave enough space in between cookies. This recipe normally yields 20 cookies – each baked cookie is about 7 cm.
- Place baking tray in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. The top of the cookie will dry up and the color will darken.
- Take cookies out of the oven and set aside to cool down a bit.
- Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.