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Recipe of the Week: Taralli dolci

September 6, 2018
By Loretta Paganini , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A delicious cookie recipe from the Puglia region of Italy, traditionally shaped into large rings and served at special occasion like weddings, birthdays or at Easter time. Beautifully presented on a linen lined tray, the cookies are stacked up high to represent a castle and show off the baker's talent and pride. Each family has its own version and special secret recipe, adding fennel seeds or white wine or a sweet anisette liquor to the dough. No matter what recipe you use, the cookies are an all-time favorite and are easy to prepare and they keep well in a seal container. Put your own special spin on it and serve them to your family and friends. This is my favorite recipe for taralli cookies. Serve them with a cup of coffee or tea. Makes 16 large cookies. (Chef tip: Do not overwork the dough or the cookies will be tough.)

Cookie dough:

4 cups 00 flour or all-purpose flour

Article Photos

Loretta Paganini

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sweet liquor or white wine

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sugar icing:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon sweet liquor

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Set the oven racks in the upper thirds of the oven and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat paddle and mix for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients: olive oil, sweet liquor and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until a dough form, adding more sweet liquor or white wine if the dough feels a little dry.

Invert the dough on a floured board and lightly knead until you have a smooth silky dough.

With a bench scraper or knife cut the dough into 16 equal pieces. One at the time, roll each piece of dough under the palms of your hands to make an 8-inch rope about 1/2 inch thick. Join the ends together to make a circle, pressing firmly to seal. Line up the formed taralli on the prepared baking sheets, making sure they do not touch each other, let the prepared taralli rest for 15 minutes before boiling them.

Bring water to boil in a 6-quart pot. Drop four taralli at the time. Gently stir the pot with a spatula to prevent the taralli from sticking to the bottom. As soon as the taralli rise to the top, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them back on the prepared baking sheet. Boil the remaining taralli.

With a sharp knife make an incision three-fourths of the way through all around the center of each of the boiled taralli, rotating as you cut.

Place prepared taralli in the upper part of the preheated oven. They will puff up in the oven and require more space.

Bake the taralli for 20-25 minutes, rotating from the upper part of the oven to the middle part midway through the baking. Continue baking until the taralli are golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, combine water, sugar and liquor in to a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Boil for five minutes or until sugar is completely melted and turn off the heat.

In a large metal mixing bowl, very carefully add 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture at the time and four taralli. Gently toss them with a spoon to coat the taralli with the prepared icing. Place the coated taralli on a wire rack to dry. Repeat until all the taralli are coated.

Loretta Paganini is a visiting chef at The Community House on Sanibel. To contact her, email or call 440-729-1110.



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