We’ve been interested in these since we first saw the recipe in Salty Snacks, by Cynthia Nims. For some reason the simplicity of the ingredients called to us, along with the idea of using wine for part of the liquid. Hmm. What would that be like, we wondered? So, the other day when we were making up that Corn and Okra Pudding, we wanted a small, snacky bread product to go along with. We saw this and thought now was the time to run this recipe through a thorough scratchin’.
We did look taralli up on the Internet, just to check to see if we spelled it correctly (we did), and, at least according to Wikipedia, these are a popular snack food found in southern Italy. Perfect to go along with the Corn and Okra Pudding, right? Both are southern dishes, just thousands of miles apart. What really clinched it was that they baked at the same temperature and about as long as the pudding. It was like they were meant to be together. Since we were just trying these out, we cut the original recipe in half, and that is reflected below.
Makes 16 taralli.
For the dry white wine, we used Barefoot Pinot Grigio. We often have it on hand, mainly because we like it, and partly because it’s inexpensive. But, really, you should use a wine that you like to drink; otherwise, you might be making a lot of taralli to use up a full bottle. For olive oil, we always have a nice extra-virgin olive oil on hand that we buy by the gallon from the semi-local Queen Creek Olive Mill. It’s a nice-tasting oil that we use regularly, but you should find and use an oil that you like.
Procedure in detail:
Whisk flour and salt. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the flour and salt. You want to get the salt evenly distributed so that no one gets a taralli that tastes like a salt lick. We aren’t going to work the dough very much once we add the liquids, so this is pretty much your only chance to avoid those hidden salt bombs.
Add liquids. We like to measure oils and other liquids into the same measuring cup at the same time. No particular reason, just that we like the look of the oils floating on top of the wine. If you’re so inclined, you can do the same; then, pour them right into the flour.
Stir. Stir the liquid into the flour until it is all incorporated. You will have a very soft, oily dough, and it will only take a modicum of stirring. Shape into a ball. You’ll need to wash the oil off your hands after that.
Cover and rest. Cover the ball of dough — we just place a plate on top the bowl — and let it take a little rest for about an hour. Longer, say, two hours, won’t hurt.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with either parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Boil water. In a large saucepan, bring a good amount (2 quarts) of salted water to a rolling boil.
Divide and shape dough. Divide the dough into four pieces, and, working with a piece at a time, roll it out to form a 20-inch long snake. Yep, just like you did in grade school with clay. Your snake should be about 1/2-inch in diameter. Great! Now cut it into four equal pieces so you have four 5-inch snakes. Form each into a ring, like a mini bagel or doughnut.
Boil rings. Drop the rings into the boiling water about four to six at a time (we did four) and let them boil until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on your lined baking sheet about an inch apart.
Bake. Once all the dough is shaped and boiled, slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the taralli until lightly browned and crispy. They will crisp up a bit more as they cool.
Cool completely. These are so small and light they’ll cool in a trice, but, if you want, you can transfer them to a cooling rack. We just transferred them directly to our plates to have along with dinner.
These were kind of a middle-of-the-road snack. We didn’t think they were great, and we doubt that we’ll be making them again, but we didn’t think they were bad, either. They were crispy and had an interesting taste that reminded us of something, but we couldn’t quite figure out what. One of us was reminded of scallops — not that they tasted like scallops, perhaps it was from a scallops-in-wine dish. If you try them, we would recommend that you sprinkle the taralli with a bit of kosher salt when they come out of the boiling water to make them a bit more like pretzels. Overall, just three stars.