Whole Grain Breakfast Cookie (or, Zaletti Fail)

I wanted to make a healthier cookie and try my hand with a mix of gluten-free whole-grains; therefore, zalettis seemed like a natural choice for two reasons, 1. I have successfully made whole grain tarts and short bread cookies using gluten free flours that were 100% whole grain, and 2. traditional zalettis are naturally low in sugar, so the use of unrefined sugars (molasses and honey) was an easy swap.

I started with a basic gluten-free cookie ratio and after several variations, I created a cookie that looked beautiful and was delicious; however, it was still not exactly what I was looking for (a zaletti! Which has more of a shortbread consistency.) I placed the cookies in a jar, sealed it and threw them in the fridge – after all, they were delicious.


The next morning, The Pickle asked me if he could have a cookie for breakfast. The children had been on a 2 week holiday, and I had a recipe development deadline. Needless to say, the children spent a LOT of time in the kitchen with me - baking AND eating. I was about to sigh and say the requisite, “Of course you can’t have a cookie for breakfast; cookies are not for breakfast,” when I noticed The Girl pouring her usual amount of honey into her usual bowl of oatmeal. I thought, “two cookies have ¼ the amount of sugar content of that bowl of oatmeal,” and the cookie is whole grain – seems like a better breakfast option to me! I gave the “okay,” to The Pickle, he pulled the cookies out of the fridge and divvied them up.

They were even yummier and chewier than they were the evening before, and are delicious dipped into a cup of hot coffee. Now, a mistake or a “step-in-the-right-direction” has easily become a family favorite, and I am the coolest mom ever. “COOKIES FOR BREAKFAST!?!” 

(Italian Zaletti fans, don't despair, I eventually perfected those, too!)

ingredients for breakfast cookies


1.     Preheat oven to 325. Put dried currants (or raisins) in a small bowl with the 20 g of flour and stir to coat.

2.     Put the polenta into a small bowl. Gently pour the warmed milk over the polenta, stir once, cover and let sit.

3.     Combine all of the flours, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine, 1 minute.

4.     In a medium, heat proof bowl, melt the butter. Whisk in the honey, molasses and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add both eggs and whisk until uniform. Lastly, whisk the soaked polenta in. Continue to whisk until most of the polenta is distributed throughout the wet ingredients. There will be a few clumps of polenta here and there.

5.     Sift half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and whisk until most of the flour has been absorbed. Repeat with remaining flour.

6.     Fold in the currants, chopped, dried rosemary and lemon zest.

7.     Using a spring loaded ice-cream or muffin scoop, scoop up the dough and place on parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Gently press dough down until the cookie is flat (see photo on the right.)

8.     Bake the cookies for 13-18 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Best if served cold from the refrigerator. Even better 48 hours later.

breakfast cookies

(Note: The inspiration for this cookie came from one of my beginning attempts to create a whole-grain and gluten-free zaletti seen during our travels in Venice. Other inspirations stemmed from David Lebovitz’s modern take on zalettis and Carol Field’s The Italian Baker. The use of rosemary and lemon zest was inspired by Jennifer Katzinger’s Honey & Oats.)

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