Taralli, aka a heavenly little breadstick cracker.
Taralli is a staple snack in Italy. It’s popularity mirrors that of pretzels in America. This tasty snack is great paired with other aperitivos (Italian appetizers) such as olives, peppers, cheese and cured meats. This snack will surely stand out in your charcuterie board, and they’re simple to make!
Ingredients (for around 20-30 taralli pieces):
1/2 cup of white wine (I recommend a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
1 tbsp of salt
4 cups of Farina 00
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of fennel seeds (or more if you like them!)
In a large mixing bowl, add your flour, fennel seeds and salt. If you have a Kitchen Aid, add to your regular bowl and set to stir at level 2 with the dough hook. Once you start mixing, slowly pour in your wine. Once your wine has been added, slowly pour in your olive oil mixing frequently. If you add all of your oil and your mixture is still a pit dry, slowly add in more oil and wine until your dough is no longer too dry or too sticky.
Once you have your dough, take it out of your bowl and shape into a ball. Grab another bowl and lightly grease it with olive oil (so that your dough doesn’t stick to the bottom!) and place the dough into the bowl. Cover with a dish cloth for 20 minutes.
Now comes the fun part, the taralli shaping! I recommend scooping out 1 tbsp of dough per taralli. You can honestly shape them however you like, I shape mine in classic Pugliese fashion. To do this, take your 1 tbsp of dough, roll it out onto a flat surface so that it’s long like a breadstick and then take each end and clasp together at the end (see picture below).
While you’re shaping your taralli, grab a medium-to-large sized pot and fill with water to boil. The bigger the pot, the more taralli you’ll be able to boil at once. Once all of your taralli are shaped and your pot of water is boiling, drop your taralli pieces in the water and let them boil until they begin to float at the top of the pot. This means that they are ready to be moved! I recommend using a small strainer to grab them from the water because using a regular wooden spoon might misshape them. I snagged my small strainer for $3.00 at a bodega, you never know where you can find these things. You could also use a spoon that has holes for drainage!
Once you’ve removed your taralli, place them on a dishcloth that you don’t mind getting a little sticky with taralli dough. Once they’re all out, wait until the taralli are dry and cold before removing. You can flip them over to drain the water from both sides if necessary–this usually takes around 15 minutes. Now is the time to preheat your oven to 425 degrees while you wait.
I recommend using parchment paper as it’s the best material for non-stick baking but I only had aluminum foil, so that’s also a good substitute! If you do use aluminum foil, make sure to lightly grease it with olive oil so that the taralli doesn’t stick.
The white edges that you see pictured above are totally normal! It’s extra dough residue that forms after it’s boiled.
It’s time to bake! Slide your taralli in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove from the oven, flip them over and cook for an additional 3 minutes. If you taralli are not slightly browned after this process, add 2-4 minutes (this will ensure their crispiness).
The final mouth-watering result will surely wow any party guests! The taralli that I made (pictured above) came out slightly bigger than I expected, but that’s what makes them so good! Your final product should be a bit hard and crunchy, just like a pretzel!
Let me know how your taralli comes out in the comments below! Buon appetito.