Call it loyalty or call it stubbornness, but when I see something that works I run with it, which brings me to these cookies. These cookies contain an ingredient that has proved itself a winner in our household; an established favourite, I have seen cookies that contain this one ingredient polished off even before I get around to prying the cookies off the baking sheet.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to scale steep cliffs or endure blistering weather conditions to acquire this ingredient. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars per kilo and no, it wasn’t dug up by specially trained dogs, nor was it bred on beer and operatic scores or grown along the inclines of some Himalayan range only accessible with the help of a Sherpa.
Luckily you can get this ingredient at any supermarket and it will only set you back a couple of dollars. If you haven’t already surmised, the ingredient is polenta, just your everyday, coarse-grained, sunshine yellow polenta. I’ve waxed lyrical about polenta in baked goods several times before but there’s just something about combining butter, sugar, polenta and a little bit of citrus zest that makes my taste buds happy.
These aromatic slabs have a crumb much like shortbread and melts easily in your mouth. Its taste is quite subtle although the raisins that speckle the cookies add a slight burst of juicy sweetness to them. As soon as I came across this recipe on Epicurious, I knew I had to make them, and because the cookies came with a recipe for Moscato Zabaglione, there was an even greater motivation to give it a go. Cookies with polenta I had done, but never zabaglione. I knew it was only a matter of perception but the notion of egg yolks and sugar somehow didn’t sound too appealing. Even after seeing pictures of the stuff over and over in glossy magazines and cookbooks, I had yet to be convinced.
To be honest my first encounter with zabaglione was merely a month ago at Pruniers Restaurant. Our waiter recommended it to me and because I wasn’t prompted by any of their other dessert options, I decided to go with it. And after hearing how the word “zabaglione” just delicately rolled off the French waiter’s mouth, I thought, perhaps I could be persuaded.
After tasting their passionfruit zabaglione, I thought to myself that the combination of yolks and sugar was pretty good, delicious in fact. I should have never doubted the Italians aptitude at creating desserts. So the next day I stuck this recipe up onto the fridge door and it hung there for quite sometime without any thought. Possibly it was a case of onomatomania and the sublime way the waiter uttered the word “zabaglione” or conceivably it was just his French accent that enticed me but I it worked. I couldn’t get the word “zabaglione” out of my head.
So while the cookies were in the oven baking, I set off to make the Moscato Zabaglione. Traditionally it is made with Marsala although I think any sweet wine would do. I personally love Moscato; I could easily drink the stuff as if it were cordial.
The recipe can be made in less than ten minutes, depending on how fast you can whisk. By the time the cookies come out of the oven the zabaglione will be ready. It is best served warm, but it is just as good chilled.
So keep your taste buds happy with this recipe.
Moscato Zabaglione with Lemon Polenta Cookies
makes 50 cookies
adapted from this recipe
110g unsalted butter, softened ½ cup sugar 1 tsp lemon zest ½ tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
½ cup polenta
1¼ cups plain all-purpose flour
½ cup golden raisins
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
½ cup Italian Moscato or Essencia
FOR THE COOKIES
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy.
Beat in lemon zest and salt, then egg yolks.
Beat in polenta, then flour.
Fold in raisins.
Knead dough just to combine; transfer to sheet of plastic wrap.
Using plastic, shape dough into a log 3cm in diameter, cut in half and wrap in plastic.
Chill until firm, 3 hours or up to 1 day.
Slice dough log into 0.5cm-thick rounds.
Arrange rounds on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2cm apart and reshaping into rounds if uneven. (The cookies do not spread too much so there is no need to space them too far apart.)
Bake cookies for about 15 minutes or until they have become golden in colour.
Cool on tray for 2 minutes, then lift cookies from tray using a spatula and transfer to a wire rack.
NOTE: The dough can be made up to 48 hours ahead and stored in the fridge.
FOR THE ZABAGLIONE
Whisk egg yolks and sugar in large metal bowl and gradually whisk in Moscato.
Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water) and whisk until mixture is thick and foamy, about 4 minutes.
Divide zabaglione among 6 cocktail glasses.
Serve immediately with Lemon Polenta Cookies.
Makes 4-6 servings