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Taralli usually don’t have sugar added and are almost never frosted. They can be found in bakeries that make bread call “Panetteria”. These bakeries produce biscotti, bread and taralli. Panettone is about one of the few exceptions although they are considered sweet bread, they are also found just about anywhere.
I’ve written about taralli a few times because they are so much a part of Italian everyday cuisine and there are so many versions. Usually they are not frosted and eaten as a snack or with wine. They are not breadsticks (Grissini), but even in high-end restaurants they can be one of the bread offerings or in bars served with wine. Sometimes they are very small and called “tarallini”. Italians add just about anything they want to the dough, but some are traditional such as pepper (red or black), rosemary and fennel.
Taralli are found all over Italy and are also an Easter specialty. Charmel are one of the few that are frosted with a very light glaze. My grandmother usually made them at Easter and they are on my Easter recipe list. I remember her rolling and forming the traditional doughnut shaped dough and dipping each one in boiling water. They didn’t look like much at this point, but after baking it was almost a miracle when they came out of the oven puffed and beautifully golden. I usually serve Ricotta Torta for dessert on Easter but a large bowl of Charmel taralli are there for an added dessert. Although taralli are most often served with a glass of wine, because Charmel are glazed they don’t pair well with wine.
Homemade taralli are far crispier and flavorful then the store bought variety, which tends to be a little like eating dry cardboard. Even in Italy the packaged taralli just don’t beat the ones made in a “Panetteria” or homemade. Since the recipes make a large amount and last for weeks, making them at home is worth the effort. I usually store them in a tin because you don’t want moisture to get at them. Whether you make them for Easter or just to have around to munch on, taralli are a delicious snack food.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes @ 450º F (variation 10 minutes @ 375ºF)
Yield: 1 dozen
Dry Dough Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons, heaping baking powder
Wet Dough Ingredients
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
12 egg yolks
1 teaspoon shortening, melted
1 cup confectionary sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 drops of lemon juice
2 drops of lemon extract
Sprinkles or jimmies (optional)
Food coloring (optional)
Add lemon juice and extract to the confectionary sugar. Slowly add in the milk until all confectionary sugar is mixed in and frosting is smooth. It should not be too thin or it will all drip off the cookies and dry transparent. The frosting should be thick enough so that it sits on the top of the cookie.
Place frosted taralli on counter or flat surface until glaze has hardened.
Beat the eggs and oil together. Mix the dry ingredients and add it to the egg mixture. Knead the dough and let it rest for 1/2 hour on the counter covered. Knead the dough again for another 10 minutes and let it rest for 10-15 minutes more on the countertop covered.
Roll out pieces of dough to 6” x 1”. With a sharp knife make a slit all along the outside edge of the strip and form into a donut shape; press the ends together with your thumb.
Bring a pan of water to a boil, and boil the taralli until they float to the top. Place them on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
Place them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10 minutes at 450º F. They should be golden brown.
Follow the same direction as above except bake @ 375º F for 10 minutes.
When completely cool, frost them with a layer of glaze flavored with lemon extract.