Saffron and Cardamom Cornmeal Cookies

September 11, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Silvia Merler
  • Makes 25-30 cookies, depending on size
Author Notes

In my family, we have a long-lived cookie-baking tradition. This particular cookie is a variation on an Italian classic, known as “paste di Meliga”. These are cornmeal cookies that are typical of the region of Piedmont, in the North-West of Italy. The recipe goes back to ancient times, and it plays with one ingredient (cornmeal) that has a major role in the gastronomic tradition of Northern Italy. I really love the crumbly and crispy texture of this cookie. I have been baking a lot of it over the years, before coming to my own personal variation on the original recipe. My version features cardamom and saffron-infused butter, which pair well with cornmeal, and give an exotic twist to the old classic. The saffron-infused butter needs to be prepared in advance, but the final result is worth it! —Silvia Merler

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (polenta)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • milk for brushing
  1. Start by making the saffron-infused butter. Let the butter soften very well at room temperature. Then add the saffron threads, mixing very well for a couple of minutes (the butter should start turning yellow). Spoon the butter on a sheet of plastic wrap, forming a ball or disk. Wrap well and put in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours (the best would be to leave it overnight).
  2. When you are ready to make the cookies, take the butter out of the fridge and let it soften at room temperature. Meanwhile sift cornmeal, all purpose flour and cardamom in a bowl.
  3. When the butter is soft, beat the butter with the sugar and egg in a separate bowl until they are creamy. Add gradually the flour mixture until well incorporated. Form a disk with the dough, wrap it in plastic film and let it cool in the fridge for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven at 375°. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a large oval 0.25 inches thick. Cut the cookies with a cookie cutter and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with some milk and sprinkle some more sugar on top.
  5. Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes (but you may need to take them out earlier if you see the edges are turning brown).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nooshin Rahmani
    Nooshin Rahmani
  • Two Trays Kitchen
    Two Trays Kitchen
  • Silvia Merler
    Silvia Merler
  • Thi

6 Reviews

Nooshin R. March 18, 2021
Seems very interesting. How many cookies can I get with these amounts af ingredients?
Thi January 27, 2020
Made these tonight. I used medium grain cornmeal and it was a little gritty...kinda the way I wanted them to be....as they are cornmeal cookies and not shortbread...anyway, good recipe, I'd make them again.
Kim October 14, 2016
I made these, and they were a huge hit--wonderful flavor combo! As a personal preference, I'm wondering how these might turn out if I added 1/2 tsp of salt to the dough. Any thoughts?
Silvia M. October 16, 2016
That's great thank you! I am very glad you liked it. I think adding salt could work well actually, let me know how it turns out if you try!
Two T. September 23, 2016
what kind of cornmeal? fine grind? medium grind?
Silvia M. September 23, 2016
Sorry for not being precise (In Italy we don't have as many kinds of cornmeal as here in the US). I used fine grind, but it worked with medium grind too. I think that it is ultimately a personal preference about the texture youlike most