I prepared these rustic Italian cornmeal cookies yesterday afternoon as soon as I arrived back from Cuneo, where Manuel and I spent the weekend participating in the local “Writers in the City” festival, where we presented a Jewish cuisine cooking show.
The cooking show was an excellent opportunity to meet many readers of Labna, but also to visit the city of Cuneo – a beautiful historic town in Piedmont – and discover its famed pastry shops, full of authentic and characteristic products such as mustaccioli cookies, cuneesi and baci di Cherasco chocolates, and our recipe for today, called paste di meliga, or cornmeal cookies.
Overtaken by the excitement of the local sweets, on the way back I purchased corn flour at the farmers market in Alba, so that I could immediately bake cornmeal cookies at home. Truth be told, I did not find the medium grain (so called “fioretto”) corn flour required for the traditional recipe, so I settled for a coarser-grained type of corn flour (called “pignoletto” instead), and I’m glad I did because I managed to make these rustic, artisan, crispy cookies which were quite possibly even better than the cookies I wanted to replicate.
Rustic Italian Cornmeal Cookies
- 125 g cornmeal
- 250 g all-purpose flour
- 125 g sugar
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 250 g butter
- 1/2 lemon zest
- a few drops of vanilla extract
- Pour corn flour, all-purpose flour, and sugar into a bowl.250 g all-purpose flour, 125 g sugar, 125 g cornmeal
- Should your cornflour be very grainy, you can mill it in a spice grinder a few minutes to make it finer.
- With a wooden spoon, work the softened butter inside the sugar and flour mixture, then add vanilla, eggs, and lemon zest, and stir to obtain a creamy and smooth dough.250 g butter, 1/2 lemon zest, a few drops of vanilla extract, 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- Transfer the dough into a pastry bag; preheat the oven to 365°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pipe the dough into small rings or any other shape of your choice. Bear in mind that the cornmeal cookies will spread a little bit as they bake. It is best to pipe thin rings and leave a wide hole in the center.
- Bake the cornmeal cookies for about 15 minutes, until they appear dry and golden.
- Lift the cornmeal cookies with a spatula and place them on a wire rack to cool, then transfer them to a tin box for best storage.
P.S. if you prepare these cookies, treat yourselves and also make a batch of zabaione (an Italian eggnog of sorts) to dunk them in: I highly recommend it!