Italian delicious “paste di meliga” (cornmeal cookies)

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Do you know that cookies made of corn flour are really toothsome and they are easy to bake too? Well, I must admit that I had perfected the recipe several time before I got to best result, but everyone in my family has appreciated them. Now it is up to you! Have try!

In Piedmontese dialect, ‘meliga’ means cornmeal (maize flour)-in fact these very well-known biscuits, are made of cornmeal flour type 00, eggs, and butter.

They come from the area of Cuneo and Mondovì: the legend says that they were born when the price of wheat dramatically increased, and the bakers started mixing it with corn flour which was less expensive. So, they are poor biscuits, but it’s their simplicity itself which makes them delicious.

They are usually paired with a tempting freshly whipped zabaione: strong unforgettable taste with  plenty of calories!

They can be enjoyed for breakfast, or at the end of a special dinner with a glass of good Barolo wine; dip them into a sweet aromatic wine: real treat!

What do paste di meliga taste like?

Scented and sweet, they are famous for their texture: crumbly and crunchy.

When you eat them you actually feel their particular texture combined with the rich aromatic taste of the butter.

Where can I find the ingredients?

All the ingredients are easily available in any supermarkets: organic high-quality butter will give your cookies a really irresistible taste, refined wheat flour, granulated sugar, and extra fresh L-size eggs.

The corn flour makes the difference.

According to its grinding, it is divided into several categories:

  • Coarse-ground flour is called wholegrain (or coarse corn semolina), and the grain are easily distinguished to the touch. It is the most common one, as it is used to make polenta (cornmeal mush). Its color, white or yellow, depends on the type of corn it comes from. It is usually yellow, due to carotenoids.
  • Medium ground flour is finer than the previous one, and it is called “fioretto di mais”, in Italian. Its smoother texture makes it ideal as a side plate. You can’t distinguish the single grain.
  • Fine ground flour is similar to wheat flour to the touch, it is called the “fumetto di mais” and it is not very easy to find. It is commonly used to make pasta, cakes, cookies, and many other typical local products.  Anyway, it is a quite niche product, and it is more difficult to find in the market, most of all because the consumers’ lack of interest. 
  • Instant cornmeal mush flour is really widespread because it is faster to cook than the other ones. Traditional cornmeal flour takes a lot of our to incorporate water; instant cornmeal mush flour has undergone a partial process of steaming cook and it is ready in a few minutes. The original flour is coarse corn semolina so it can’t be used to make these cookies.

Using cornmeal flour is not easy at all

Cornmeal flour, sugar, butter, and eggs: easier than ever, isn’t it? Actually, making a good product with the right texture before the baking may be quite difficult. Cornflour does not contain gluten, so it has to be combined with the suitable quantity of flour to make a compact even batter.

The soft and fluffy batter is shaped into small rings or rectangular cookies with a piping bag.   

Italian delicious “paste di meliga” (cornmeal cookies)

In Piedmontese dialect, ‘meliga’ means cornmeal (maize flour)-in fact these very well-known biscuits, are made of cornmeal flour type 00, eggs, and butter. 
They come from the area of Cuneo and Mondovì: the legend says that they were born when the price of wheat dramatically increased, and the bakers started mixing it with corn flour which was less expensive. So, they are poor biscuits, but it’s their simplicity itself which makes them delicious. 
Course Snack
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cornmeal cookies, italian cornmeal cookies, paste di meliga
Prep Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 70 gr

    medium or fine ground cornmeal (fioretto di mais)

  • 70 gr

    corse ground cornmeal (or coarse corn semolina) 

  • 120 gr

    flour type 00 (Patent Flour or Pastry flour)

  • 70 gr sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125 gr butter
  • half

    finely grated lemon zest

  • a pinch salt
  • 0,5 gr

    vanilla flavoring 

Instructions

  • Melt the butter over medium-low heat, pour it into a mixing bowl, add egg and sugar. Mix until well combined; you may also mix it in a stand mixer with the K-beater at low speed;
  • Then add the 3 types of flour and process well; 
  • Add lemons zest, vanilla flavoring, and salt. Mix until a thick wet consistency, but not liquid. This is a very important part of the process: if the mixture is too liquid, the cookies will melt and lose their shape; on the other hand, if it is too thick it can’t be put into a piping bag;
  • When it is the right consistency, put the mixture into a piping bag with a 15 mm open star  shaped nozzle. Opt for a disposable quite hard piping bag, insert the nozzle, cut the tip of the bag, and pull it out. In the way, you will avoid air bubbles and the batter will be piped and shaped more easily; 
  • Take a baking tray lined with parchment paper; 
  • Pipe rings  about 5-6cm in diameter directly onto the tray. Allow enough space as they will grow;
  • Bake at 180 static oven at 180° (356°F) for 15/20 minutes until light golden.

 

How you can store paste di meliga

You can store these mouth-watering paste di meliga in a biscuit tin, or an airtight container up to 4-5 days.

After 4-5 days, they lose their texture, but they can have a second life: crumble and use them as the base for a cheesecake.

Unusual tempting paste di meliga

Do you want super toothsome paste di meliga? Dip them into dark chocolate- a perfect matching between grainy texture and bitter sweet taste!

Melt the chocolate en “bain marie” over low heat, stir occasionally until smooth and glossy. Dip half of the cookies and let them cool on a rank.

Enjoy paste di meliga with some good hot tea for a delicious break among friends.

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