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Polenta Dolce–My Favorite Dessert

December 28, 2016


Polenta Dolce–My Favorite Italian Dessert


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Putting aside peppermint ice cream and Wisconsin frozen custards, my favorite dessert is the Italian delicacy Polenta Dolce.  While this recipe from “the Old Country” has been very popular in my family (both sides from Northern Italy’s Levone Valley), I have met only one other person who knew  of Polenta Dolce.  As a young boy, this student had lived in Italy and later returned to Italy each summer to visit his grandparents:  he was aware of the delicious Polenta Dolce which his grandmother had also made.


I imagine that my paternal grandmother, whom we called “Grandma Farm” (May 17, 1892-February 27, 1988), brought this recipe with her–only in her recollection–when she left Italy and came through Ellis Island in 1910.  From her new hometown of Klondyke, Indiana, she eventually shared the recipe with her daughter-in-law (my mother) and her daughter (my Aunt Kathy).  Although my mother most often made this lightly sweet and lemony-flavored recipe for holidays and family gatherings, other relatives also made Polenta Dolce.


Sometimes, my mother just made this recipe because she knew how much I loved this dessert.  Most frequently when my mom prepared the first two steps, before spreading the mixture into the pie plates, she would put a couple of heaping tablespoons of the mixture into a small bowl for my sampling.  This sample was for me the ultimate of comfort foods!  The taste is pure “home.”


Even though “polenta” is associated with corn meal, the recipe contains no corn meal.  Simply, “Polenta Dolce” translates as “sweet polenta.”



Mother’s Recipe for Polenta Dolce



  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine and cook on medium-low heat until mixture is firm:


one quart warm milk


two-thirds cups Cream of Wheat


grated rind of one lemon


one and one-fourth cups sugar


  1. Remove from heat, and add:


one tablespoon butter


one tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  1. Spread mixture into two (oiled) eight-inch or nine-inch glass pie plates; allow mixture to set and cool in refrigerator.


  1. Slice into diamond and/or rectangular shapes.


  1. Dip each piece into beaten egg; then, roll in fine bread crumbs.


  1. Brown both sides of each piece in Mazola (corn) Oil; place each browned piece onto plate or platter covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil.


  1. If desired, lightly sprinkle each piece with granulated sugar.


  1. Transfer to serving plate or tray. Although this Italian dessert is best when served warm, you may also serve Polenta Dolce at room temperature.  If not eaten within a short period of time, you may wish to refrigerate the Polenta Dolce in an air-tight container and then allow to come to near room temperature before next serving–if you can wait that long.


* * *


For other family recipes on Wordwalk, please visit the archives of this blog to find:


February 22, 2013–Cherry Holiday Squares

April 6, 2013–Dad’s Polenta and Bagnetto

September 5, 2013–September Thoughts of Summer and a Recipe (Aunt Lydia’s Sugar Cookies)

November 6, 2013–Cranberry Calico Cake (Sweet Bread) and Frosting

November 13, 2013–Mrs. Pickard’s Pineapple Squares (a delicious pastry made with yeast)

December 4, 2013–Recipe with Memory Piece–The Wassail Years

December 18, 2013–Holiday Date Bars

February 5, 2014–Aunt Kay’s Quiche

February 12, 2014–Layered Dessert

September 24, 2014–The Apple Butter Days of Autumn

November 25, 2015–Thanksgiving Eve:  A Recipe for Apple Cake

December 2, 2015–Holiday Recipe:  Butter Horns


* * *


NOTE:  On Christmas Eve, Saturday, I posted on Wordwalk an “extra” post–a memoir entitled “Eavesdropping on Christmas.”  If you missed this extra post, I invite you to read my prior post of December 24, 2016.


Best Wishes for a Sweet and Sparkling 2017!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 28, 2016, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Carole permalink

    Thanks for the Polenta Dolce recipe, Alice, as well as reminders for the other family favorites. Happy New Year!

  2. Alice. While my wife loves polenta, she has never heard of the dolce version. Her father’s side of the family is from Palermo Sicily. Family name LiPuma. I forwarded your post alert to her.
    Thanks again for another wonderful look at the history of your family.

    • Deon–Although I believe the recipe is more from Northern Italy, I will be interested in knowing if your wife’s family ever made such a dessert.

      I just heard on the national news that you , in Maine, are having quite a winter storm. Take care!

      Best wishes for a year of happy writing and all other good things of 2017! Alice and Willow

  3. Sue McKendry permalink

    Sorry to just be reading this now, right after lunch, and again I am hungry. How wonderful to have the recipe, as well as the list of others you posted before I became a regular reader–a very nice Christmas gift.–Sue

  4. mfanyo permalink

    Alice, perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to make us some polenta dolce on one of my visits with you. Best Wishes to you and Willow for a Happy and Healthy 2017!
    Love, Mary

    • Mary–I could be the very happy recipient of such a new year’s resolution.

      Happy cooking and baking in 2017! Alice and Willow

  5. Mary Fornero permalink

    Well Alice, polenta dolce is also Ferruccio’s favorite treat. My Mom always made it for him. Naturally, she never used a recipe. So, one day, we made it together and I wrote it down for reference. The 2 are almost identical. Mom’s had less sugar and she didn’t add lemon juice. Some use powdered sugar but we don’t. Monday night of the Festival, I made some to share with other past Res and Reginas. It was a hit. Many people hadn’t had it in years. Ferruccio has been known to eat it right out of the pan. If I had known when you were in Clinton…

  6. Annette permalink

    Alice, this was also a favorite in our home growing up. My mother’s family is from northern Italy. I have looked for similar recipes and could not find until yours. I was so excited that other families had the same tradition. We use Farina instead of Cream of Wheat but it’s the same. And the only other difference is the amount of sugar. Ours was only 1/4 c but I made today with more sugar. Keep sharing the tradition and enjoying this wonderful treat with such great memories and history. BUON APPETITE!

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