Polenta Cakes – yummy!

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I love polenta. Its a very simple Italian dish, probably Italian peasant food since it does not require any ingredients except stone ground or coarsely ground cornmeal and water. I’ve also always loved corn breads – kind of sweet, but perfect accompaniment for savory dishes and sort of gritty. I have not, however, developed a fondness of grits – the southern equivalent of oat porridge, I prefer oat porridge. Anyway, polenta dishes always catch my eye and lately I have been noticing several dessert dishes featuring polenta – yummy!

I’m eager to try these:

Almond Polenta Cake featured in the WSJ Weekender Easter for the Champagne Set (sounds a bit labor intensive, but I would definitely take the time to prepare this when entertaining friends and/or family):

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes Serves: 12

Ingredients
For the candied oranges:
10 clementines, mandarin oranges, tangerines or tangelos
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

For the cake:
1 pound butter, plus more for greasing pan
Flour, for dusting pan
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups almond meal or finely ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs
Zest of 4 lemons, plus juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange, plus juice of 1 orange
½ cup corn flour
½ cup cornmeal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Coconut ice cream
Fresh mint sprigs

What To Do
1. Make candied oranges: Peel citrus and separate into segments, removing as much pith as possible. Bring sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, add segments and simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain mixture over a bowl and return liquid to pan. Set pan over medium-high heat and cook until syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely and gently stir in citrus segments.

2. Make cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and light, 1-2 minutes. Add almond meal and vanilla and mix well. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Fold in zests and juices, corn flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

3. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until set and deep golden brown on top, 40 minutes.

4. Serve each slice of cake with a scoop of ice cream, about ¼ cup of candied citrus and a sprig of mint.

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And this one:
Apple and Blackberry Polenta Cobbler featured in March 2013 Issue of Bon Appetit
Using frozen berries in desserts is a clever way to add flavor and vibrant color in colder months. Choose a mild honey, such as clover or orange blossom, to let the fruits shin

Filling
3 pounds baking apples (such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1 10-ounce package frozen blackberries (about 2 cups), thawed
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Biscuit Topping and Assembly
1/2 cup medium-grind polenta or cornmeal (not quick-cooking)
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
1/4 cup sugar plus more for sprinkling
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream plus more for brushing

Preparation
Filling
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine apples, blackberries, sugar, cornstarch, honey, butter, and lemon juice in a large bowl and toss to evenly distribute. Transfer mixture to a shallow 3-quart baking dish and set aside.

Biscuit Topping and Assembly
Combine polenta, baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 cups flour, and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse until pea-size lumps form. Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl and form a well in the center. Add 1 cup cream to well and mix with a spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms.

Transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface and knead just until dough comes together, about 3 times. Pat or roll out dough into a 14×4-inch rectangle about 1/2 inches thick. Cut dough rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 equal pieces to make 12 biscuits.

Arrange biscuits over fruit mixture, spacing about 1/2 inch apart. Brush biscuits lightly with cream and sprinkle evenly with sugar.

Bake cobbler until filling is bubbling around edges and biscuits are golden brown, 40-50 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cobbler cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Cobbler can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

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