Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add cornmeal, stirring constantly with a whisk until cornmeal begins to absorb liquid (about 2 minutes). Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half; cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Spoon cornmeal mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Using a spatula coated with cooking spray, spread into an even layer. Chill, uncovered, 30 minutes or until completely cool.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Turn polenta out onto dry surface; cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place polenta cubes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes, turning once with a spatula. Cool on a wire rack.
I had exactly the same issue - 10 minutes into baking, this melted into a puddle of cornmeal. I think the recipe contains a typo. Made a second batch and baked at 200 degrees for the time specified, and got crisp on the outside, soft on the inside lovely polenta bites. Not sure I'd quite call them croutons, but still delicious in a salad or just to eat out of hand.
Wow. I've made a lot of croutons over the years, but this was a new experience. I've never had anything run together quite like this. 10 minutes into the baking, and it was a single mass of cornmeal.
I let the polenta cool for a couple of hours before slicing, but even then it seemed very soft. That is probably putting it mildly.
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