Cornmeal is widely eaten in northern Italy in the form of polenta, but in Piedmont it also shows up often in the form of paste di meliga, crumbly cornmeal shortbread cookies popular in pastry shops all over the Langhe.
Paste di Meliga (Cornmeal Cookies)
These delicious treats are crumbly cornmeal shortbread cookies popular in pastry shops all over northern Italy.
Yield: makes About 3 Dozen
2 1⁄4 cups flour
3⁄4 cup cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
21 tbsp. (1/2 lb. plus 5 tbsp.) butter, softened
2 egg yolks
Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add butter and egg yolks. Using your fingers, work butter and egg yolks into flour–cornmeal mixture until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead 4–5 times until smooth (dough will be soft and tacky). Cover dough with a clean damp kitchen towel and set aside to let rest for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 300°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ⅜" star-shaped pastry tip. Pipe 2"-diameter spirals of dough out onto prepared sheets about 2" apart. Bake until edges turn pale golden, 20–25 minutes. Allow cookies to cool briefly, then transfer them to a rack to let cool completely. Serve with Zabaglione, if you like.