Una polenta sconosciuta – Polenta dolce con salsa alle fragole e rabarbaro

Sometimes I like to feature recipes that did not travel too far, like this one. I went for dinner at a Basque restaurant in San Francisco a few nights ago and one of the dessert item was “gâteau de maïs à la compote de fraises“, cornmeal cake with strawberry compote. Then I realized that there is an Northern Italian cake that sounds just like this one, but I decided to skip dessert since I had a filling appetizer and entrée. I will have to go back and check out the Basque version now!

Everyone knows savory polenta, but there is another sweet version that a few people know, la polenta dolce. Well, if polenta dolce (sweet polenta) is a less famous way of preparing polenta, it is certainly not less delicious. In Lombardia (Milan, Brescia and Monza are the biggest cities) dessert based polenta are not that rare, and this recipe is a typical Lombard dessert and a good member of gastronomia Lombarda. It makes sense, since those regions produce a lot of polenta, when you drive through this area, you see so many corn fields, it’s so obvious that the production and consumption of polenta is high in these areas.

I made a few changes to the proportions but the ingredients are what they’re supposed to be. A good friend of mine from Milan used to eat soft polenta cooked in milk with raisins and sugar and my mom would look at this with a suspicious eye, thinking those people from the North eat funny things. Many Northern regions such as Friuli, Venezia, Piemonte do have their own versions of Polenta dolce and some other polenta-based desserts, but I somehow like this version with almond powder (or flour) and marsala, but if you like cherries, you can also use maraschino which is a Venetian liquor made with cherries (and also available in the US).

You can serve it with any accompaniment you like, I love strawerries and rhubarb compote so much that I can eat it with anything, yogurt, ice cream, cakes, etc…and with this polenta cake it works perfectly. These polenta cakes are delicious, and can be eaten for breakfast as well, they’re not very sweet nor greasy and very hearty.

Ingredients for 6 individual cakes

  • 2.11 oz (or 60 g) butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2.46 oz (or 70 g) sugar
  • 2. 46 oz (or 70 g) white flour
  • 3.14 oz (or 90 g) yellow polenta
  • 1.76 oz (or 50 g) almond flour (or almond meal)
  • 3 tbs marsala or maraschino
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Strawberry-rhubarb compote – see recipe here


Melt butter and in a mixing container combine with sugar. Mix well with an egg beater. Add eggs and mix well for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the flours carefully, and vanilla, marsala (or maraschino) and baking soda.

Divide in 6 individual molds or a large one. Cook for about 30 minutes in a 370F pre-heated oven.

Let it cool and serve with a berry or fruit compote.