Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Polenta Cookies

Once upon a time Mom and I were in the Tower of London. Not as residents, just visitors. It hasn't been used for that since WWII, I think.
Beautiful views and right off the Thames and next to the Tower Bridge (the original London Bridge is in Arizona, bought by a man who thought he was buying the beautiful Tower Bridge. Come on, what do you do with a massive bridge? Put it in the back yard?). I suppose there are those who have developed a business of selling oceanfront property in Arizona...

Back to London...
It was pretty neat- guards, Beefeaters (or Yeomen Warders), crown jewels, plenty of armor, ravens (HUGE birds- and there's a belief that the kingdom will disintegrate if the ravens ever leave the Tower, but I think we were told that the birds' wings were clipped- so how can that be fair play? They can't really just walk away...)

Our group was also lucky enough to be able to see and enter St. Thomas More's cell, which is not a part of the general tours. Pretty cool.

We also had lunch at the Tower.
I don't remember everything, but we did share a polenta cookie. I liked it very much and tried to find a recipe when I returned home, but nothing was right.
I had seen a couple of recipes with some similarities, combined things, and made adjustments of my own. Ta-da.
Sorry, I did this about 10 years ago, so I can't quite tell you what I looked at and how I did it. I know I tried a couple times before I actually came to this recipe (it's my first attempt at trying to replicate a cookie).

Of course, always wash citrus with soap and water when you plan on using the zest (probably even if the fruit is organic).

Orange-Polenta Cookies
makes about 65, 2 1/2- 3 inch cookies

1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
4 t orange zest
2 t lemon zest
2 T fresh orange juice
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c flour
1 c cornmeal (plus extra)

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and mix until blended. Add orange and lemon zests, orange juice, vanilla, and mix until blended. In a separate bowl mix flour, salt, and cornmeal. Slowly add to butter mixture and stir on low speed until combined. Be careful that there are no unincorporated pockets of flour and cornmeal (it may be a good idea to turn off the mixer and stir/fold by hand so you can see better). At this point the dough will be fairly sticky. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.

Have a flat-bottomed glass and a small bowl with cornmeal ready when you are ready to bake the cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten balls of dough with the bottom of the glass to approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. You may have to sprinkle the first ball of dough with a little cornmeal, but after that just dip the glass into cornmeal before flattening each cookie.
Bake until edges are golden brown, 14-16 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on sheets, and using a metal spatula move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you plan on leaving the cookies longer they may cement themselves to the sheet pan and break when you try to remove them. In this case it may be good to use parchment paper under the cookies.
Store in a tightly covered container.


  1. This cookie is perfect with a cup of afternoon tea. It just sort of crumbles in your mouth. It is one of the most delicate cookies I have ever had.
    Thanks for posting a cookie that is just not chocolate chip or chocolate chip!

  2. I have tried a cookie such as this, seems I might have to give this recipe a try. Cookies - love them, miss them, will have them again very soon! :)

  3. I think they're even better after a couple days...

  4. Natalie!

    We just made these last month as we pulled out our favorite "Natalie" recipe of years ago. I made a double batch for a certain Brazilian/American "whom we all know and love"... since I made WAY too many, we had lots of leftovers. Happily enough, they lasted about a month and only got better with time.

    Thanks! Your gifts just keep on giving!