These delicate diamond-shaped cookies are a Venetian tradition at Carnevale. From San Marco's Square to Murano and Burano, zaletti are piled high in pastry shops and enjoyed throughout Carnevale - with a caffe, cappucino or dipped in wine. This traditional biscotti celebrates the end of winter and is a prelude to Lent.
Polenta and sugar, butter and raisins are mixed into a buttery orange batter, then baked to a golden. The cookies take their name from the word zalo meaning giallo or yellow in Venetian dialect – hence through the years, they were known as zalleti.
Recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.
In a cup, soak the golden raisins in the Grappa, Cognac or Brandy, your choice of liqueur.
Next, cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla bean or extract with an electric mixer until creamed.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with a pinch of sea salt. Add the flour, polenta and baking powder and the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar. Add the raisins, liqueur, and orange zest fold them into the mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Remove the dough from the fridge.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Prepare a clean workspace with a dusting of flour. Place the dough on the floured surface and divide the dough in half. Roll into a 1 3⁄4 inch diameter log then cut into slices about 3/4 of an by 2 1/2 inch and form into a diamond. Place on the cookie sheet spacing them apart.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes - keeping your eye on them and rotating the pans. Once golden brown, remove and let cool.
Serve with Vin Santo, sweet wine, a creamy cappuccino or deep dark caffè.