I Zalett

Bolognese Polenta Cookies

In Bolognese dialect, zalett means “little yellow ones.” It is polenta flour that gives these cookies that color and their name. They have a marvelous crunch to them and true, warm corn fragrance. On their own, they are a superior crisp cookie, and they are excellent with ice cream, with zabaglione, with custards, and with the pears in red wine. My husband likes to dunk them in grappa. This is another of Margherita Simili’s recipes.


  • 2 cups plus tablespoons polenta (cornmeal) flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature and cut up
  • cup lard, softened to room temperature
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon (outer skin with none of the white pith beneath)
  • teaspoon salt


  1. Put the polenta flour, the all-purpose flour, and the baking powder in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Pour the contents of the bowl onto a work surface and make a mound with a well in the center. Put all the other ingredients in the well. Draw the flour over the well and amalgamate thoroughly with all the ingredients, without, however, kneading the dough.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 parts, wrap each in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or even overnight.
  4. Turn on the oven to 350°F.
  5. Dust the work surface and a rolling pin with flour. Unwrap one of the balls of dough and roll it out with the pin to a thickness of ¼ inch.
  6. Using a round cookie stamp 2 inches or slightly less in diameter or a wineglass or other suitable tool, cut the sheet of dough into disks. Place the disks on an unbuttered cookie sheet and bake in the uppermost level of the preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes, until they become colored a deep gold.
  7. Press the leftover cuttings together into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and place in the refrigerator.
  8. Remove the other ball of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, roll out, cut into disks, and bake, following the same procedure employed for the first batch of cookies.
  9. Combine the second set of leftover cuttings with the first, roll out, cut, and bake for a third batch of cookies.
  10. When cold, store the cookies in a tin box with a tight-fitting cover.