Chocolate Orange Polenta Cookies

These cookies are based on those classic Italian lemon polenta cookies; buttery and full of texture from the cornmeal, this version hums with the warmth of orange and is made a little more luxurious by the dark chocolate finish.
By Alexia Kannas

Chocolate and orange is a flavour combination I’ve always loved. As a kid, I never could get enough of the orange candy-coated chocolate balls we call ‘Jaffas’ here in Australia. And the excitement of there being a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in the house was almost too much to handle. This was the sort of treat guests might have brought to one of my parents’ dinner parties in the 1980’s. While the adults talked and laughed over their shrimp cocktail-stuffed avocados, my brother and I would spend the evening plotting how to sneak into the lounge room for another piece without them noticing. These days, I tend to enjoy those flavours more often in a bar of fine chocolate; in those good, dark, smokey bars the fragrant and bright citrus notes of the orange can be sublime. But I also love this combination in baked goods, so I came up with these cookies this week, when I suddenly realised it had been too long since my last chocolate orange moment.

These are based on those classic Italian lemon polenta cookies; buttery and full of texture from the cornmeal, this version hums with the warmth of orange and is made a little more luxurious by the dark chocolate finish. They’re not too sweet and somehow both elegant and sassy – maybe because that familiar and popular combination of orange and chocolate is disrupted (in the best possible way) by a gutsy level of crunch that is kind of addictive. They’re very, very good with coffee, but are equally at home alongside a tall glass of cold milk.

Chocolate Orange Polenta Cookies
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
A super-crunchy orange cookie that is finished with dark chocolate. If you're not into the combination of chocolate and orange, these are excellent without the chocolate, too. Just leave out the last step here.
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking
Serves: Makes 25 cookies
Ingredients
  • 200g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 cup polenta (cornmeal)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 100g (3½oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and orange zest with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.
  2. Mix flour, polenta and salt in a medium bowl with a whisk until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet and beat until a soft dough forms.
  3. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl for 1-2 minutes. Form dough into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm (around 30 minutes). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 190°C/375°F and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  4. When ready to bake, roll the dough out on a lightly-floured surface until half a centimeter thick. Cut out cookies using a medium-sized round cookie-cutter (I used a fluted one here). Because the dough is quite fragile, use a spatula or palette knife to gently lift cut cookies and place on trays. To use leftover dough scraps, roll remaining dough into a ball and refrigerate again until firm.
  5. Bake cookies for 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  6. While cookies are cooling, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir gently until evenly melted. Using a teaspoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cooled cookies and allow to harden before moving.
Notes
To store, place cookies in an airtight container. They're best eaten within 1 week.

 

Alexia Kannas

Alexia Kannas

Alexia Kannas is a writer and academic based in Melbourne, Australia, who spends her days thinking and writing about cinema - and food. Fascinated by the relationship between food and memory, she writes about how cooking, meals and taste recall moments from film, literature, history and imagination. Her dream dinner-party guests are Jarvis Cocker and all her non-single friends. The two things she fears most are i) guests leaving hungry and, ii) a world without gin.

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks for a super recipe.
    I’ve just made it and I found the polenta hasn’t fully cooked and the cookies are rather gritty. Any ideas about what to do about that? I assume maybe I was meant to use some sort of quick cook stuff?

  2. Hi Ruth! I’m so sorry these didn’t work out for you! I don’t think you used the wrong polenta – I used regular coarse stuff for mine. That said, I have used instant polenta in similar cookies before and you do get a more finely textured result. The polenta never cooks like it would when you make stovetop polenta and the grains are always discernible in the cookie.

    What I didn’t realise when I posted this was how controversial these cookies are! I took them to a family gathering where most people loved them (they all disappeared) but my Dad pronounced them “Gritty!” So perhaps I should have been more cautious in my description of their “crunch”. Again, apologies. I may try them again with some finer miller corn I found at the healthfood store and see what that does for the texture – will let you know if the grit/crunch factor changes!

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