Taralli are small ring-shaped crackers that you will fall in love with the first time you taste them. In fact, you won’t be able to stop eating them. These tiny savory treats from Puglia, in southern Italy, go well during happy hour with friends. They are simple to make with ingredients that you may already have in your pantry, so let’s get started.
These baked treats, a delicious snack, are made with only a few simple ingredients: flour, water, white wine, and extra virgin olive oil. Of course, you may encounter some tasty variations with fennel seeds, sesame, oregano, red pepper, or dried onion flakes, all of which enhance a basic dough. The ingredients are kneaded until a smooth dough is formed which is then rolled out into ropes. The ends of the ropes are joined together to form a ring shape; they are then boiled and baked.
Why should you make taralli?
Because they are super yummy and just like potato chips once you have opened the bag, you can’t stop eating them! In Italy, they are usually paired with red wine for a delicious aperitif along with cheese, a few spicy mushrooms, olives, or other savory treats.
Children have them for morning break at school, and they may provide adults with a healthy snack in between meals. Mostly, they are served during meals, so put them in a nice basket along with bread when you have guests over for dinner. They will be a nice addition.
Which is the original recipe?
Are you wondering what the original recipe is? This here is the most common one that everyone agrees upon. Different from the ones in the past, today’s version has plenty of variations.
A simple recipe which has an essential step: pre- cooking
The ingredients are simple and original, but an essential step in the method makes taralli from Puglia unique: they are boiled in plenty of salt water before baking. Without this step, taralli will be crunchy but not fragrant. Give it a try—with or without boiling—you may choose which one you like the best!
Shape taralli with a sudden sharp movement
The shape makes these treats definitely unique. They are breadstick like rings whose diameter is about 1 inch (3 cm). After kneading and setting them aside for a short time, shape them into small rings. With a sharp knife cut a piece of dough as big as a walnut and roll it out onto a wooden board with a steady, quick movement. Continue rolling until it gets longer and longer: the dough should roll from your palm to your fingers. When the ball becomes a small rope join the ends of them together. Repeat this process over and over again. Trust me, your patience will be rewarded.
Things to consider
- Unless you boil them in salt water, taralli won’t become fragrant;
- Wine is essential, so you can’t replace it with anything else. Use top-quality dry white wine. If you really can’t use it, substitute water, but your taralli will lose their traditional taste;
- You have only red wine? Well, instead of light golden taralli, you will have pinkish ones;
- Let them sit for at least 5 hours, or overnight before baking. This will guarantee the right texture, they won’t get stale or too crunchy;
- Make them small as they are more delicious and easier to eat than bigger ones. In fact, they are even tastier. It is not a silly thing; shape does make a difference.
- Set the temperature to 340°F (170°C) if you have a convection oven, increase the temperature by 50°- 68°F (10 – 20°) in a static oven and carefully check for doneness;
- If they are too hard, you may have cooked them too long, or the dough was too dry. Next time, add a little more water as your type of flour may soak up more water than what I use in my recipe. You may need to adjust the quantity of wine and oil with the use of other types of flour as well;
- If you fancy a particular flavor, use dried herbs, Tomato, or olive paste go well with the recipe. If you use a liquid ingredient, adjust the quantity of water: the dough should result in a smooth and elastic dough. You can always add more flour.
How to make crunchy Italian Taralli from Puglia
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine OR a mix of 2 ounces (60ml) of wine and 2-3 tablespoon (40-50ml) of water (100ml)
- 1/4+1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (75ml)
- 1 full tsp of fine salt (about 10-15g)
- 1 handful of coarse salt
- extra: about 3½ teaspoons (15g) of a mix or of individual spices: red pepper flakes or chili powder, dried onion flakes, fennel seeds, dried rosemary, thyme, sage, curry, paprika, or cumin. Whatever you like.
- Sift the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer, a KitchenAid, or in a big bowl if you don’t have one. Add salt and oil;
- Combine well until it forms a granulated mixture. First, start on a low speed and then increase the speed to 2 or 3;
- Add the wine to the flour mixture until well combined;
- If you want, add the spices, according to your taste;
- Remove the dough from the bowl, and knead it until a smooth and elastic dough;
- Wrap it in plastic wrap and set aside for about 20-30 minutes. If it’s hot out, put the dough in the fridge;
- Cut walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them out into 2.5-inch (6cm) ropes. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t get too warm. If everything is ok, you should have smooth ropes without any cracks;
- If they fall apart, knead the dough again with a splash of water and set aside for a little time, then starts rolling out again;
- Join the ends of the ropes to form a sort of small ring, press to seal;
- Place them on a parchment-lined baking tray;
- If it’s hot out, refrigerate your taralli for about 1 hour (they won’t get flat);
- In the meantime, bring the water to a rolling boil and add coarse salt;
- Cook about 10 or 12 taralli at a time: Drop them into the water;
- Stir the water with a wooden spoon without touching the taralli, just whirl the water;
- As soon as the taralli float on the surface (it takes about 1 minute), take them out with the skimmer and place them onto a tray lined with a clean tea towel; repeat the process until you have cooked all the rings;
- Let them rest for at least 4-5 hours before baking them. The more they rest, the better they are. They may also be set aside in a cool place overnight, but that depends on the time you have. If you are in a hurry, bake them right away;
- Transfer the taralli onto a parchment-lined baking tray;
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and place the tray on the middle rack. Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until light golden;
- Take them out of the oven and be patient; let these delights cool down completely before eating.
How can you store taralli?
Taralli will stay fresh for a few days in a ziplock bag. Don’t freeze them as they will lose their flavor and fragrance.