Zaleti

Venetian Cornmeal Diamonds

Another wonderful cornmeal biscuit, this time from Venice. Zaleti are to be found in all the Venetian pastry shops and are popular in one form or another in all of northeastern Italy.

Although there are some large zaleti, they are a little rich, and I prefer to make small ones. The Venetians pronounce the name “sah-HET-ee.”

Ingredients

  • cups yellow cornmeal
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • ¾ cup currants or dark raisins
  • 2 large eggs
  • Grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in the butter finely, leaving the mixture cool and powdery. Stir in the currants or raisins.

Or pulse the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter, cut into 8 pieces, and pulse again 6 or 8 times until finely mixed. Pour into a bowl and stir in the currants or raisins.

Beat the eggs with the lemon zest and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture with a fork.

Flour the dough lightly and divide it into 4 pieces. Roll them into cylinders about 1 inch in diameter. Flatten the cylinders slightly and cut them diagonally at -inch intervals, making diamond shapes.

Arrange the zaleti on paper-lined cookie sheets and bake them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, until they are light golden in color. Cool on racks and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

Variation

When I am pressed for time, I bake the dough in 3 logs, then slice the logs diagonally after they are baked. These biscotti do not need a second baking. A handful of very green pistachios is spectacular added to the dough; this little variation of mine is not one seen in Italy.

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