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Zaletti - Cornmeal Cookies
Makes twenty-four (2-inch) cookies
Zaletti are cornmeal cookies from the Veneto region which is in northeastern Italy. Cornmeal (polenta) is a popular food of the Veneto. The word zaletti comes from the word giallo (yellow) because the color of cornmeal is yellow. The real name for these cookies should be gialletti meaning 'little yellow things.’ Zaletti are similar to shortbread cookies made with a portion of cornmeal. They are usually shaped like diamonds. Zaletti are not very sweet and their texture is almost like a biscuit. Some recipes for zaletti do not include raisins or currants and some do not include pine nuts. But raisins or currants are a must and they should be soaked in grappa which adds to the flavor of the cookie.
3/4 cup dried currants 1/4 cup hot water 3 tablespoons grappa 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 2/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on top 1 egg 1 egg yolk Grated zest of 1 lemon 1/2 cup pine nuts 1 cup yellow cornmeal 1-1/3 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt
Place the currants in a small bowl. Combine the hot water and grappa; pour over the currants. Allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer. Add the whole egg and egg yolk; mix to incorporate. Drain the currants and add them to the bowl. Add the lemon zest and pine nuts; stir to combine. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the mixture until blended. You may need to use your hands to blend the mixture into a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface.
Pat the dough into a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2 inch strips. Then cut the strips diagonally to form diamonds or parallelograms. (You can also use cookie cutters to cut them into squares or rounds.) Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets on wire racks. Transfer to an airtight container to store.
Baked cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days at room temperature.