Crumiri (Italian Cornmeal Cookies) Recipe

Crumiri

[Italian Cornmeal Cookies]

We all have our siren ingredients, those that call to us in voices of sugar from the printed page of a cookbook — or the pixelated page of a food blog — and charm us into dropping whatever we’re doing to run to the kitchen and reenact the recipe.

Cornmeal is one of my sirens, and I find it particularly beguiling in baked goods*. This is the only way I can explain such a short TTO (time to oven) for this cookie recipe, which I chanced upon last week on Ivonne’s fine blog, Cream Puffs in Venice.

Crumiri, sometimes spelled krumiri, are traditional Italian cookies that hail from the Piedmont region. The origin of the name is hazy: crumiro means strikebreaker, so that can’t be it, and while some say the cookies were named after a Tunisian liqueur called Krumiro (or Krumiria, presumably like the Maghreb region) that the baker-inventor liked to swill, the Internet knows nothing about this mysterious beverage. No matter.

These cookies can take on different shapes, but they generally wear a ridged outfit, created by the star-shaped tip of a piping bag. Alas, I am a poorly equipped baker and my flimsy piping bag did not resist the assault of such a thick dough**. After a brief but irritating struggle, I resigned myself to forming vague lumps.

Aside from this minor hurdle, these are precisely my kind of cookie: crumbly, with the teasing crunch of cornmeal between your teeth, delicately flavored, and not too sweet. And in keeping with the regional theme, I have found them to be ideal companions to a scoop of homemade Nutella ice cream***.

The recipe Ivonne posted comes from a book called Italian Baking Secrets, written by an Italian priest; I modified it to reduce the amount of butter and sugar slightly. If you want to make ridged ones, make sure you use a professional-grade piping bag and tip that won’t burst and poop out on you. I’m just saying.

* If you share my cornmeal enthusiasm, consider trying my go-to recipe for shortbread, or these violet cornmeal macarons.

** It has to be thick, otherwise the ridges will just soften and melt away in the oven.

*** Yes: before it became a world-renowned addictive substance full of transfats, Nutella was a piedmontese specialty known as pasta gianduja.

Crumiri

– 180 g (1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 140 g (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons) sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or 1/8 teaspoon seeds scraped from a real vanilla bean
– 240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 110 g (2/3 cup) stone-ground cornmeal

Makes about four dozen two-bite cookies.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the vanilla and mix again.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cornmeal. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. The dough will be thick.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 2-cm (3/4-inch) star-shaped nozzle, and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet to create the shape of your choice (such as a horseshoe, a stick, or a small “V”, “S”, or “O”). Make sure you keep the cookies small and give them a little room to expand.

If you don’t own a piping bag or worse, if you own a shoddy one, plop rounded teaspoons of the dough onto the baking sheet.

Slip into the oven and bake for 12 to 16 minutes (depending on the size and shape of the cookies), until pale golden around the edges. Let stand on the baking sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

Variations: Replace the vanilla with high-quality almond extract or finely grated lemon or orange zest. Or follow Vanessa‘s lead and half-dip the cookies in bittersweet chocolate.

[Adapted from Father Giuseppe Orsini's Italian Baking Secrets, via Ivonne's Cream Puffs in Venice.]

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  • http://appetiteforchina.com AppetiteforChina

    I thought outside the US, Nutella was free of trans fats. I’ve seen packages of Nutella in Spain, China, and Sweden that didn’t list anything partially hydrogenated, but maybe the situation is different elsewhere.

    Might you by any chance have a recipe for this homemade Nutella ice cream?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    AppetiteforChina – The label on French jars of Nutella lists vegetable oil without specifying “partially hydrogenated”, but I’ve read conflicting reports on whether French regulations make that mention mandatory in all cases. If someone wants to weigh in, I’m interested!

    As for the ice cream recipe, I am still working on it (I’m not using Nutella, but a comparable spread from the organic store) and I will post it when I’m happy with it.

  • http://www.godfulfood.blogspot.com anya

    Hi Clotilde!

    You definitely know how to inspire!! Thanks for such a great job=labour of love! I’d really appreciate if you could give me a piece of advice on how to set my foot as a budding foodblogger in the community of alike-thinkers and eaters! :)

  • http://chefandphotographer.blogspot.com emma nowell

    I love cornmeal, these cookies look like the perfect thing to nibble on mid afternoon! The cornmeal macaroons look awesome, I’ll definitely give those a try. Thanks!

  • http://www.whatgeekseat.com Vanessa

    Clotilde, thanks so much for the linky love. I’ll be in Paris in late March, maybe we can meet up for coffee. I can’t wait for the nutella ice cream recipe!

  • http://amyleland.net Amy

    Oh, this is PERFECT. Cornmeal is a siren ingredient for me, too, especially since one of the farmers at my greenmarket mills and sells his own. And I’m hosting a dinner party in two weeks with an Italian theme that I was looking for just this kind of recipe for. Something simple to go with the flourless chocolate cake at the end. Yum!

  • http://cindc.wordpress.com Caroline

    My family immigrated from the Piedmont region a few generations ago, but I’ve never heard of these. I must try them! I always like the idea of baking something my great gradnmother might have made when she was in Italy, and I love the gritty texture of cornmeal, especially in baked sweets.

    For those in the US who find Nutella questionable, Trader Joe’s has a much better version that lacks the partially hydrogenated oils. It’s thicker, less sugary, and more hazelnutty as well.

  • http://foodforlaughter.blogspot.com Astra Libris

    I love your term “Siren Ingredient!” It’s so true… Cornmeal is definitely one of mine, for purely cozy/cultural/nostalgic reasons – in my corner of the deep south US, cornmeal = cornbread = ultimate comfort food. Whenever I see the words “cornmeal,” I immediately smile… And so, cornmeal in cookies? I am SO excited! Thank you for introducing me to the recipe!

  • http://www.columbiafoodie.blogspot.com Sara/columbiafoodie

    I remember the Nutella gelato from Italy….So amazing I must be dreaming!

  • morgaine

    I think the reason why your cookies don’t behave properly in the piping bag is that you shouldn’t use the eggs whole, but only the yolks. That makes for a harder dough and a much crumblier biscuit.
    I have checked this in all my Italian cookbooks.
    The proportions of white and yellow flour are different in different recipes and tend to give the same amount for both.
    Crumiri are a very popular cookie in Italy and you can find the industrially produced ones in any supermarket

  • E.

    Okay, so, I am very, very suggestible, it seems. I woke up this morning, read this recipe, went to the gym thinking about the recipe, showered, and then made the cookies. That probably broke a personal record for me in terms of the time it took me from reading the recipe to making it. Great cookies! Thanks, Clotilde. Delicious breakfast!

  • gingerpale

    Maybe you could try one of those cookie press/cookie gun/dough extruder things. Less versatile (?)but sturdier maybe.
    (Probably not included in anyone’s list of “only five”.)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Vanessa – You’re welcome, and yes, do let me know when you’re in town. I can show you where Parisian geeks eat! :)

    Morgaine – Thanks for your suggestions, I may try a recipe with just egg yolks next time.

    E. – Wow, you certainly beat my own TTO. There’s nothing like a good cookie to settle your system after a workout!

    Gingerpale – You know, I actually own one of those, but by the time I thought to try and use it, I had run out of patience and just needed to bake those cookies already.

  • Libby

    For what is worth, I am also a Nutella lover and a couple of months ago I bought a new jar and the partially hydrogenated oils are missing from the ingredients lit. I am delighted by this development since I plan on living a very long life.
    I live in the US. In Texas to be precise. I believe that by law they must list it in the labels right?

    ***

    The cookies look divine Clotilde. I must try them. I’ve also been meaning to say that I got your cookbook as a birthday present last month and I am loving it!

  • Mette

    I’m already looking forward to the recipe for the nutella ice cream! When I lived in Paris I always had the nutella flavour when I went to Amorino for gelato — how I miss Paris. I’m looking forward to your next book already! :)

  • http://realgoodtaste.blogspot.com/ jenbook

    Libby- you are right, U.S. law now mandates that companies list transfats on the nutrition info but the exception is that items with less than .5 grams of transfats per serving can have a ‘transfat free’ label, even though they really aren’t. I believe this is the case with Nutella now- there still are partially hydrogenated oils, but not enough that they have to list them on the label.
    ____

    On another note- the cookies do look lovely.

  • http://www.morningsglory.blogspot.com Morgan

    Oh my. I don’t know why I never contemplated the greatness of cornmeal in the form of a cookie. These are dangerous times. In a really good way.

  • Anatol

    Your recipe definitely sounds like a good way to spend tomorrow afternoon, thanks for sharing :)

    I did some research on the matter of transfats. here in germany there is no law preventing partially hydrogenated oil (and thus, transfats as a tolerated byproduct thereof) from being used in foodstuff. (Except for a less-than-four-percent margin valid for baby nutrition only.) Still, they have to be declarated as such, using the word “gehärtet” (hardened) somewhere in the list of ingredients. A quick look on my sisters jar of nutella reveals no such wording.
    the french wikipedia article however claims, in its ingedient list: “graisse végétale partiellement hydrogénée [...]; l’hydrogénation partielle crée des acides gras trans en quantité importante et néfaste pour la santé)” i wont make an attempt at translation, but what my poor french gets from it, is that (in france, at least) nutella actually contains some degree of transfats, even though they are claimed not to occur in dosages harmful to human health. which is a difficult claim, seen that the full amount of lipid interaction within cellular chemistry is yet to be wholly understood…

    anyhow, i’d follow clothilde’s advice anytime and went to buy an organic nutella derivate. frankly, they just taste better ;)

  • marie

    miam miam! i love cornmeal too!merci Clotilde!

  • http://www.theroadislife.blogspot.com lacey

    a ha!! My French friend and I were debating Nutella’s roots the other day– in his love for Nutella he was positive, something so delicious, must be French… I thought it was Swiss or German… but Italian.. I suppose it is all starting to make sense.

  • http://balancefood.blogspot.com Christy

    I second jenbook’s statement about transfats in the US–less than 0.5g/serving=on the label. In general, anything that is partially hydrogenated probably has some level of trans fat in it (a side-effect of the hydrogenation process). Many companies are in the process of changing the oils they start with to “healthier” oils such as canola that are less likely to develop the trans structure. In addition, a lot are using blends of fully hydrogenated oils such as palm with oils that are naturally only partially hydrogenated. For an interesting industry perspective, check out this link.

  • N

    Yeah, C&Z has mentioned in the past that Nutella contains trans fat and as a result sales of Nutella (to our household) have dropped considerably. The Wikipedia article lists 0% trans for the American version. Is the French version different?

  • http://www.creampuffsinvenice.ca Ivonne

    How beautiful, Clotilde! Like you, I find cornmeal to be one of those irresistible ingredients. And yet I never seem to use it enough. Why is that?!

    I love your variation of the recipe. Bravissima!

  • http://www.cheeseandchoux.com cheeseandchoux

    I actually had these when in Rome recently, but I couldn’t quite place the taste there. Very excited to try them!

  • Rachel

    I’ve had crumiri before, but I’m sure they taste even better fresh from the oven than fresh from the bag – thanks for the recipe, can’t wait to try them!

    As far as Nutella goes, I had a look for DIY recipes and found quite a few. Pascale’s (on C’est moi qui l’ai fait!) looks particularly good to me and I intend to try it next time the craving hits (it’s in French though, so for those of you don’t speak French, get a friend to translate).

  • http://icecreamireland.com Kieran

    I just made cornmeal pancakes. Now I know what to do with the other half of the packet!

  • Maureen in Oakland

    Clotilde,

    These look pehenomenal. I am going to make them with locally ground organic wheat flour and cornmeal. One question—How many cookies did you get out of this batch?

    Thanks,
    Maureen

  • Serena

    I love cornmeal as well and so I just had to make these tonight. I added 1 teaspoon grated lime zest and 1 tablespoon lime juice. (I’m in a really dry climate, and so I usually have to adjust the wet/dry ratios slightly.) They were fantastic! Thanks for a great recipe!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Maureen – I got about four dozen two-bite cookies (the yield is indicated in the recipe). Hope you like them!

    Serena – Lime sounds like a great twist indeed.

  • Tina Thumm

    Here in the U.S., my most recent jar of Nutella has palm oil listed instead of the partially-hydrogenated oils it used to have. As far as I know, in the U.S. all of the ingredients in a product have to be listed, so if a product contains any partially hydrogenated oils, they have to be listed in the ingredients, even if the content is low enough to qualify the product for the “trans-fat free” label. Of course, palm oil is high in saturated fat, so is not that much of an improvement.

  • http://www.helengraves.co.uk Helen

    Siren ingredients indeed! I know exactly what you mean and these look delicious. My sirens are anchovies, pomegranates, broad beans, yoghurt and right now I’m totally re-obsessed with nuts!

  • darcyalaska

    Thanks for posting this great recipe! I’d never heard of these cookies before, but like you, I adore cornmeal so I had to make them. Right now in my kitchen rows and rows of crumiri are cooling on racks (lumps, not piped perfection). I’ve already snuck a few tastes & they are really wonderful.

    However, after baking them for 16 minutes at 325 F, they were just barely golden. Perhaps a higher temperature or longer cooking time is needed? (my oven is brand new & freshly calibrated)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Darcyalaska — Way to settling on lumps! And thanks for the feedback. The actual baking time really depends on the size and shape of the cookies so I prefer to be conservative in the recipe, but I’ve changed the baking temp to 350°F as I now remember I set my oven a little hotter than in Ivonne’s recipe.

  • laura

    I’ve been browsing this site for a while and I have to say thank you for writing so many wonderful posts. I too was inspired and struck by a short TTO with this recipe. Midway through shaping these cookies (I was stuck making “lumps” of dough as well) I was reminded of my favorite Italian sesame cookies. Now, I speak meekly because although A. those little crumbly sesame cookies are my favorites, and B. I am half Italian, I have never tried to make them, but relied on a few bakeries in town that do. So I cannot say that to make these in sesame-form is authentic, but to use Nigella’s words, they were “authentically delicious” when reformed as sesame cookies. I urge you to try it out on a few of your cookies next time you make a batch. I just took a heaped teaspoonful of dough, shaped it into a log (about the size of the end of your thumb), and rolled each into a pan of toasted sesame seeds. This takes a light hand, and I wonder if maybe I should have chilled the dough for 5 minutes before shaping. These little beauties took about 12 minutes in my oven to be perfectly crisp on the outside, slightly yeilding on the inside. Yum! Oh, and I forgot to mention that I added about half-a-lemon’s worth of zest along with the vanilla, which I think worked nicely. Thank you again for providing yet another lovely recipe!

  • http://divineambrosia.blogspot.com Annemarie

    I’m having a cornmeal phase too – recently made a cornmeal shortcake which I blogged about and it made me fall in love with cornmeal even more. I missed this on creampuffs but am finding it very, very tempting…

  • http://bressanini-lescienze.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/ Dario Bressanini

    Hi,
    Just a note: the original recipe for the Krumiri (which is still a well guarded secret by the Krumirificio Rossi http://www.krumirirossi.it/ ) does NOT include cornmeal flour, but only wheat ‘0’ type flour. You can see a picture i made of the classic metal box and the ingredient list.

    If you happen to go to Casale Monferrato, in Piemonte, go and buy the original Krumiri. They are quite delicious

    Ciao Dario Bressanini

  • Lady of Procrastination

    Speaking of sirens, one of mines is hazelnuts, and when I saw the suggestion of almond extract as a substitute for the vanilla, I saw my chance.
    These were amazingly delicious! Perfectly textured Clotilde, perfectly! With the rich butter flavor, the hint of the hazelnuts, they were gone in seconds at my tea party.

  • tyzo

    delicious – i made these w/ organic blue corn meal, and followed vanessa’s example in dipping them in chocolate – they’re terrific: a great texture, not too sweet, and substantial as well. brava!

  • Laura

    Nutella, in some countries, still has trans fat and when it doesn’t, it still has palm oil which is still dangerous to your health. Organic hazelnut spread has no such harmful ingredients and has more hazelnuts and chocolate. I’m an American living in Germany and the organic hazelnut spread I buy is 33% hazelnuts and is listed as the second ingredient, the third being cocoa.

    *********************

    Clotilde – I love cornmeal and was just thinking last night of making a cornmeal crust for pizza. Any ideas or a recipe for this?

  • http://www.wickedgoodtraveltips.com Susan

    I have a passion for the crunch of cornmeal as well. Try my favorite Saturday morning pancakes – add 3T of cornmeal to 1C buttermilk pancake mix. Add 2T of orange marmalade, and use orange juice for liquid.
    Thanks for a wonderful website!

  • Mandy

    I wanted to make these as soon as I read the recipe, but waited until I had time (and a reason…). I used Meyer lemon zest to flavor them, and formed them with a cookie press. They didn’t want to stick to the parchment, but I was able to carefully pry each off of the press to put them back on the sheet. I’m so excited to have another recipe to use what is probably the least useful (but irresistably nifty) widget in my kitchen!

  • Teaberry

    Speaking of nutella…have you tried Baratti & Milano Crema Alle Nocciole??? It takes the whole hazelnut and chocolate thing to a whole new level. The only place in the USA that I’ve found it is AG Ferrari, and the branch I visit is just a couple blocks from your favorite Whole Foods in Palo Alto. I imagine it’s easier to come by in Europe. It’s SOOOOOOOOOO good, and the ingredient list is less threatening to one’s health than nutella.

  • edenvalleybakers

    Could these be done in a cookie press rather than a piping bag?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Laura – Thanks for the suggestion, sesame does sound like a great addition.

    Dario – This has certainly made me want to try the original Krumiri!

    Laura – I’ve never made a cornmeal pizza crust, but it’s on my list of future projects, so I’ll report back when I tackle it.

    Mandy – Aaah, Meyer lemons (sigh).

    Teaberry – I bought so much stuff from that AG Ferrari store, including a great many gianduja bites, but I missed the choc-hazelnut spread! I’ll try to find it here.

    Edenvalleybakers – I myself have never had much success using my cookie press, but you should be able to get this dough through it (see Mandy’s comment just a little above yours).

  • Brendan

    Because I’ve been lead astray in the past by others, I have to ask. Should there be some leavener in this recipe?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Brendan – No, the recipe doesn’t call for any leavener. Crumiris are crunchy, crumbly cookies with no leavening agent.

  • http://www.lemon-chiffon.org Lillian

    Just finished baking a batch. They turned out amazing. I added a little cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and rum, because I just got off (presumably) a stollen kick and can’t seem to stop with those ingredients, but only the tiniest bit of each. They turned out a bit more like cardamom cornmeal cookies than anything (the cardamom was straight from the pod, so a bit intense,) but luckily I love it. Gives them kind of a chai taste. Regardless, this was a great recipe–thanks a lot.

  • Kathy

    I tried out this recipe today, and despite a few ingredient shortages the cookies turned out pretty well! But if you don’t mind, I have a questions. I’ve just become obsessed with baking during these past few days (Christmas vacation at home from the university), and since my family doesn’t bake much we usually are missing a little something from every recipe I want to do. Could you tell me, in your experience, what the effect of substituting cornmeal for regular flour is? I love the taste of the cornmeal, but I’m wondering what the effect is with regard to the texture or consistency of the product. I’ve never had authentic crumiri, so I don’t know how they are supposed to be, but my rendition today had a smooth, fine texture on the outside and a more cakey, soft texture on the inside, which was to my liking. What are some of your observations in relation to this and the type of flour used? Thanks! and also, I love your site! I’ve been having a hard time choosing between recipes to try!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kathy – Cornmeal lends cookies a distinctive flavor, rich and slightly sweet, that regular wheat flour doesn’t. It also affects the texture, making it coarser, and pleasantly grainy.

  • Taymour

    I just baked these because I had a bag of cornmeal and wanted to use it in baking. The dough was very dry and crumbly (the latter partly as I was nervous about over-mixing). I piped some but because the dough was so stiff it was quite hard work. I baked the piped biscuits for 14 mins at 180C. They didn’t spread at all and are a mealy, crisp sort of shortbread. I shaped some with my hands into rounds but those were still soft after 14 mins. Much nicer piped. I’d like to try these again with some of the variations suggested. Thank you for the recipe!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      You’re welcome, thanks for reporting back!

  • tulips

    I love cornmeal too. Thanks for your recipes! I’ve been looking for the recipe for a round cookie from Yemen, made entirely with cornmeal, seasoned with black seeds. It is a delicious kind of biscuit, hard on the outside and softer inside, baked to a golden brown -the cornmeal taste is awesome. But I can’t find a recipe on the web. I tasted them at an Arab’s store in Brooklyn, NY. I hope you can find a recipe and will post it too =)

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