Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Words To Eat By

Moscato Zabaglione and Lemon Polenta Cookies

When I come across a good thing I like to stick to it. I have a pair of brown sandals that I bought about three years ago that I refuse to replace. They are comfortable, stylish and are wearing a bit thin, but I have yet to find another sandal just like it and I am reluctant to let it go. A year ago, I came across a brand of organic muesli that I really loved. It had just enough crunch that when mixed with some yoghurt, it didn't turn into a soggy mess. After that I just couldn't bring myself to buy another brand, even when it costs me $8 a pop.

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.

Lemon Polenta Cookies

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.

Moscato Zabaglione

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

Lemon Polenta Cookies Moscato Zabaglione and Lemon Polenta Cookies

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


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.


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


LILIBOX said...

your photos are amazing .
The zabayon is very good .I like very much to taste it when I go in Italia .

wheresmymind said...

My mixer whisks VERY fast ;)

Anonymous said...

What pretty colors those have! I love the yellow with the touch of color from the raisins (which I thought were cranberries...). I love polenta too and am very glad that it is cheap. It's nice when delicious and cheap coincide :)

Erielle said...

I have never had polenta cookies before. They look absolutely delicious in your photos. Do you think stone ground corn meal would work intead of polenta?

Helene said...

What a great sweet post! I love zabaglione and yours look gorgeous. I bet the addition of the polenta cookies is divine.(oh yeah, that bad!)

Marce said...

wow, those cookies look lovely. I loooooove polenta (especially grilled like italians eat it or baked with cheese and tomato sauce) but I´ve never had a dessert with polenta. These cookies could be just what I need to start a sweet-polenta thread ;)

About the zabaglione, you can make a zabaglione icecream as well, you should definitely give it a try. It´s the usual way to eat zabaglione here in Argentina, and I´m sure you would love it. If you can´t find a recipe, let me know and I´ll dig up something in Spanish for you and translate it.

Anonymous said...

I love your analogy - favorite ingredients are as comfortable to use as beloved shoes are to wear! Your recipe sounds wonderful - sophisticated and comforting at the same time.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I really relate to the comfortable things to wear and the how hard it is to give them up when they wear out. Fortunately cookies don't wear out, they just have to be baked again. I was going crazy with polenta and corn meal recently, you've probably put me back on it.

Anonymous said...

All right, I am totally convinced! I will have to get the secret ingredient and try. Lovely JenJen!

ilingc said...

I know what you mean about sticking to brands. It's like why change something when it's working so well? ;) That's the way I see it anyway.

ps. I love the look of those cookies! I can just imagine them melting in my mouth..mmmmm paradise....

Karin W. said...

I usually don´t like to baking small cookies (except for Christmas). But - this was an interesting combination, Zabaglione and cookies. Never seen it before...

Patricia Scarpin said...

These cookies are being tagged right now. ;D

Polenta was always a favorite in our house - my father wouldn't go a week without it - but I've never used it in baked goods.

Oh for the love of food! said...

Your zabaglione and polenta cookies look incredible and I love the way you write. Looks like you've won yourself a new regular!

Brilynn said...

I've never had a polenta cookie, but yours look delicious and I'm certainly up for sampling some zabaglione, anything with a fun name is good in my books.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Zabaglione and polenta in the same dish? I'm printing this one. Now. Thanks Jen-Jen!

Susan from Food "Blogga"

Anonymous said...

What a lovely duo of desserts you have here! Your photos are right on, magazine quality. Very nice job!

Rachael Narins said...

Polenta is just the best...and at Whole Foods you can buy it in bulk for less than $0.25 pound. A VERY good deal.

This recipe is so inspiring...I will have to revisit sabayon...


Anonymous said...

Great minds think alike! Coincidentally I just finished baking some lemon sables, although now I must try adding polenta and raisins, your cookies look too cute!

Jenny said...

I'd like to make these this weekend; I just compared your recipe with the one on epicurious; did you really reduce the flour by a whole cup? Or was that a misprint? Please help! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It seems to be delicious...
I made Biscuits à la polenta : http://www.grignotebarbotine.fr/?p=244
I recommand them, it 's very good...

Julia said...

Just wanted to let you know that I made these delightful cookies, and they were so quick and easy to make and went down a treat...