December 6, 2010

Zaletti: Venetian Christmas Cookies

Confession time: I'm really enjoying butter lately. Growing up my mom only used margarine, and for the longest time I was afraid of butter. Yes, afraid. I thought using it would make me fat or unhealthy. Well, maybe this is my inner Paula Deen talking, but I love butter. Butter is fantastic. No matter how much Earth Balance I used in baking, my recipes never came out this good. The flavor of real (organic) butter can't be beat.

Zaletti are lusciously creamy Italian polenta cookies. I'm not sure of their true identity because they don't seem to be certain, either. They're kind of a shortbread, kind of a biscuit, and, as my friend said, "a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a corn muffin". Whatever the case may be, they're fantastic little holiday cookies that would make a great addition on any cookie tray.

Now, traditional zaletti are made with grappa soaked currants or raisins. While this is fantastic, I had neither grappa nor currants on hand, and I wanted chocolate. Thus, chocolate chip zaletti were born.

These cookies were the reason why I was smelling my hands for minutes, unable to bring myself to wash them. All that filled my nose were the scents of butter and sugar. Friends, there is no better smell than butter and sugar, especially when they're being freshly creamed. Just stick your head in your mixer and find out for yourself.

I ate one of these cookies after they cooled and it just seemed to float away and disappear on my tongue. Light yet heavy, decadent yet tiny, creamy yet coarse, these cookies are neither here nor there. And, at this rate, they won't be anywhere but my stomach.

Chocolate chip zaletti

- 3/4 cup flour (white spelt, per usual)
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips

- 1/3 cup (5 1/2 T) butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1-3 T cold water, as needed


- Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Cream softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a minute. Slowly add egg, then vanilla, and mix until combined.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet and combine until mixture just begins to come together. It will be crumbly. If it looks too crumbly, slowly add one tablespoon of cold water. Continue adding until mixture comes together but isn't wet.
- Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a large ball or log. Refrigerate for an hour.
- Pinch off chestnut sized balls of dough. On a parchment lined baking sheet, roll cookies in 1" ball, press down slightly and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

*Dough will keep in the fridge for a week and freezes exceptionally well, so you can make the dough ahead and use it as needed.

Makes about 30 cookies

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  1. Those look soooo yummy!!!! And different, too! =D

  2. I bet the polenta gives them a nice texture change from most cookies. Very cool.

  3. How unique are these. i am absolutely loving the idea, and definitely think I need to give them a try. I am your newest follower.


  4. @Fashion Meets Food

    Thank you so much! :) Glad to have you following!

  5. @Heather Iacobacci-Miller

    It does - I love the coarse texture mixed with the buttery creaminess. It's perfection.

  6. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it