Zaletti (Cornmeal Raisin Cookies)

Pamela Jacobs

This recipe was entered in our We ♥ Local Cornmeal recipe contest by Pamela Jacobs.  Pamela says,"This recipe was inspired by an experience as a Reading Mentor.  My little mentee from Shelburne Community School picked "Carnival at Candelight" by Mary Pope Osburne as the first book we read together.  It takes place in Venice, Italy.  It made me want to learn more about the area and especially its local cuisine.  Zaletti cookies have a lovely subtle lemon & cornmeal flavor.  The golden raisins make a sweet surprise."


Prep Time

90 minutes

Cook Time

15 minutes


6 Dozen


3⁄4 cup raisins, golden
1⁄4 cup water (warm)
12 tablespoons butter, unsalted (softened)
1 1⁄2 cups flour, all-purpose
1 cup cornmeal (yellow)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2⁄3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar, powdered (or as desired, for dusting)


Combine raisins & warm water in small bowl & let stand, tossing once or twice while preparing dough.

In medium bowl, stir 1 1/2 cups flour, cornmeal, baking powder & salt until blended.

In large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add egg, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Add dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Add raisins and water and stir until combined and raisins are evenly distributed.  Form dough into a compact ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill until very firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove chilled dough and put on lightly floured surface.  Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut the dough into diamond shape, 1 1/2 inches long on each side.  I like to use a pastry cutter for a pretty edge.  Place dough on prepared baking sheets about 1/2-inch apart.  Re-roll scraps and cut more cookies until all the dough is used.

Bake until the undersides of the cookies are golden brown, 12 -15 minutes.  I like to check after 10 minutes.  Total cooking time depends on number of baking sheets in the oven at the same time.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Dust with powdered sugar as desired.  These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for one week and also freeze well.



My little mentee loved these cookies.  They are perfect after school with milk or anytime with coffee or tea.  They would also be fun to make together with a child or friend. This recipe is adapted from "Lidia's Italy" by Lidia Bastianich.  I have made it many times and recipe can be halved.