I made this cookie yesterday for Slow Food Santa Cruz‘s Annual Holiday Party, which this year featured not only a fantastic pour of wines from Vinocruz, but also a holiday cookie exchange. Never one to let this sort of opportunity pass without making things as stressful as possible on myself, I decided to try out a brand-new recipe, one I’d only just devised and was basing on someone else’s recipe, located on the internet, which I’d never before tested. 2 hours before the party. What could go wrong?
I will temper the suspense a bit by mentioning that by all accounts the cookie was a big hit, which is why I’m posting the recipe for it today.
I used this recipe from Serious Eats as my starting template, after reading several polenta cookie recipes and deciding this one was the best match for my ingredients on hand, and that the ratios looked like they’d produce the kind of cookie I was looking for. The omission of baking powder was a little surprising, and likely led to the issue with oven spread that I ended up having to contend with. So I’ve added baking powder to my adapted recipe in order to assist with this issue. Baking powder helps baked goods to rise, which should in turn lessen the spread a little.
On the subject of oven spread– I was dismayed when the first batch of cookies ran together, and wherever airspace was available, turned to a crisp brown at the edges. I quickly tasted one, still molten, to make sure it was edible. Luckily, it was fantastic on that count. It had a wonderful texture from the polenta, which managed to be both crunchy and soft, and the melding flavors of rosemary and lemon from three sources– fresh, extract, and marmalade– were killer.
Since I knew I had a winner on my hands, taste and texture-wise, the issue now was presentation. I didn’t want to show up with cookies that had haphazardly run into each other, and that had browned so dramatically at the very edges (though they were not at all burned). So I called on a trick shared with me by one of my all-knowing culinary instructors, back when a similar thing happened at school– the round cutter. If you have a small biscuit-cutter on hand, that will do. I used the round end of my quick-icer (wide-ended frosting tip). I stamped out the middle of each cookie so that all was left was the beautiful, perfect middle. Then I garnished each with a small accent of fresh rosemary. I had a beautiful cookie on my hands. (You don’t even want to know how much grief I caused by throwing away the trimmings. I was in a hurry! I wasn’t thinking clearly.)
I’ll be making these again this weekend. My wife liked them so much that she’s chosen them as her contribution to a cookie exchange next Monday. If I come up with any other final modifications to this recipe, I’ll update this post. But for now, I think we have a winner, whether you’re going for presentation (use a round cutter to make perfect cookies) vs. those that just care about the taste (eat them straight out of the oven.)
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup uncooked polenta (not instant)
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- Zest of 2 organic lemons
- Juice of 1 organic lemon
- 3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, large stems removed and rosemary leaves minced
- 3 additional large sprigs of rosemary, for garnish
- 6 ounces lemon marmalade
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, polenta, sea salt, and baking powder) in a bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat the egg, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon zest, and minced rosemary in with the creamed butter and sugar.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and beat briefly to incorporate.
- On parchment-lined cookie sheets, drop cookie batter by the tablespoonful, leaving lots of room between each cookie.
- Flatten each cookie a little and make an indentation in the top; carefully spoon in 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of lemon marmalade.
- Bake (on middle or top racks only) for about 17 minutes.
- If your aim is presentation, cut out middles with round cutters, and garnish each with small sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves plucked from your garnish sprigs.
- If your aim is just to enjoy a tasty cookie, skip the round cutter step, and garnish with rosemary in the same fashion described above.