In Piedmont, these corn biscuits are very popular with espresso, and even more so in combination with a good, sweet wine. The secret of Paste di Meliga: cornmeal. These fine corn biscuits that were once created as an emergency solution have now become the culinary ambassadors of an entire region.Jump to Recipe
How the corn made its way into the dough
The recipe for the corn biscuits dates back to the 17th century. Even then, the Piedmontese Po Valley around Cuneo provided the people with plenty of food. But in 1628 there were unsuccessful harvests due to bad weather. In particular, common wheat, a staple food, became scarce and expensive. But a baker was imaginative. He bought polenta, i.e. cornmeal, which he had finely ground. He was not the only one who loved the cookies that he baked with it!
For a long time the people in Piedmont believed that the Paste di Meliga would bring good luck. It was, for example, given to newborns as a gift for their journey through life. To this day, they are often served at the end of a good meal – dipped into a glass of medium to full body dessert wine or nutmeg before they melt in your mouth. Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the first Prime Minister of the new Kingdom of Italy, who always enjoyed his biscuits with a glass of Barolo chinato, was probably the inspiration for this.
A celebration for the biscuit
There is actually no prescribed shape for Paste di Meliga. Some make curly biscuits, others round or even oval biscuits. In whatever form they appear, at the gourmet fairs in Turin they now symbolise all other local delicacies. And, at the end of September, at the Sant' Ambrogio Festival, “Miss Meliga” is even crowned for the best paste.
Paste di Meliga - corn biscuits
- 1 egg
- 130 g sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 120 g flour , plain, 00
- 250 g cornmeal, finely ground
- 120 g butter, at room temperature
- 1 lemon zest
- Pre-heat the oven to 200° C upper/lower heat. Line a baking tray with baking paper. If you were not able to get cornmeal in the shop, you can finely grind polenta yourself with a food processor (corn mill attachment).
- Beat the egg with a food processor. Add the sugar, honey and the two types of flour and continue stirring. Slowly add the butter. Once the dough is smooth, pour it into a piping bag with a star-shaped decorating nozzle. Use the piping bag to form curls on the baking paper. You do not need to leave a large space between the biscuits. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool before serving.
These are irresistibly good Christmas cookies to make this season. Because if these cookies don't convince Santa to make a stop at your house, nothing will.