Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cornmeal Cookies – Zalleti the Venetian Cookie

Venetian Cookies are made of corn meal and currants. Currants can be soaked in rum, and lemon zest can be added. You can really experiment with these cookies: try to add lemon or orange zest, instead of currants try finely chopped prunes or dry apricots or cranberries, and soak them in rum, cherry brandy or your favorite liquor. My Zalleties are made with orange blossom water and orange zest.
Adopted slightly from The Italian Baker by Carol Field via David Lebovitz.


3/4 cup (90g) dried currants, chopped
1 tbls orange blossom water
Zest of 1 orange
2 tbls (20g) flour
5 1/2 ounces (155g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (120g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
1 cup (140g) corn meal, regular or coarse
½ tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Soak the currants in orange water. Live for 15 minutes. Mix 2 tbls flour into the currants and shake well.
Mix all ingredients by hand until smooth, then stir in the currants.
Form the dough into a rectangle 4- by 7-inches (10 by 18 cm), wrap in plastic, and chill the dough for about an hour, or until it’s firm enough to handle.

Divide the dough in two, lengthwise, and roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a smooth cylinder 7-inches (18cm) long. Wrap the cylinders and freeze until ready to bake.
If you prefer to bake the cookies right away, pinch of pieces of dough about the size of a small unshelled walnut, and roll into balls. Place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet and press them down gently with your hands to flatten them partially.)

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325F (170 C)
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Slice the cookies into 1/4-inch (.75cm) slices and place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheets. (The dough is easier to slice when frozen, but if it’s too firm or crumbles when you cut it, let it sit out on the counter until it reaches a good consistency.)
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until the cookies are very light brown on top. Remove the oven and let cool completely.
Serve with tea or coffee.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to four days. The dough can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for one or two months.
About 50 cookies

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