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Amor Polenta

This is my version of this popular Italian dessert.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

3 extra-large eggs, separated

2 additional egg yolks

1 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup vanilla sugar (recipe below), or 1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons amaretto

1/2 cup pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

2/3 cup lightly toasted and finely ground almonds (instructions below)

1 teaspoon vanilla (if not using vanilla sugar)

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using an electric beater, beat the 3 egg whites until they are stiff but not dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the vanilla sugar (or regular sugar), then fold in the 5 egg yolks and the amaretto.

Sift the flour with baking powder and salt.

Using a spatula, incorporate the almonds, the flour sifted with baking powder and salt, vanilla extract (if not using vanilla sugar) and the cornmeal. Mix until all ingredients are well blended.

Fold in the egg whites, moving the spatula delicately to incorporate them while maintaining the airiness they contribute to the batter.

Pour the mixture into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool before slicing.

Amor Polenta Alla Lavanda

Use the list of ingredients from amor polenta with the following changes: substitute milk for the amaretto, use regular sugar (omitting the vanilla extract) and add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender flowers.

Follow the instructions for amor polenta, adding milk instead of amaretto.

Toss the dried lavender flowers with the almonds when they are halfway ground and add them together to the batter.

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