Recipe from Italian Home Cooking by Julia della Croce (Kyle Books, 2010)
- 5 cups unsifted flour, plus add itional
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (1 ¼ if you like it less sweet)
- 6 teaspoons baking powder
- 16 tablespoons (2 stick s) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 extra-large eggs
- 3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- For the glaze
- 1 ½ cups conf ectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup water or milk
Makes 8 to 9 dozen
The recipe for this traditional cookie, taralli dolci, of the Puglia region came from my paternal grandmother but my aunt, a talented baker, fiddled with the original recipe whenever she made it until her taralli were the best and the lightest I’ve ever had. This is how she does it.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder. Cut the butter into the flour mixture as if making pie crust. If mixing by hand, make a “well” in the center of the mixture.
3. Beat the eggs with the vanilla and pour them into the well. Gradually add the flour into the eggs until it is all incorporated. Wash hands well and mix and knead the dough until smooth. You may have to add more flour until the dough is soft but workable. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Keep adding a little flour to the surface, as necessary, as you are shaping the dough if it sticks.
4. To form the cookies, take a piece of dough the size of a walnut and roll it with your hands on the work surface to form a log about the size of your middle finger. Then take one end of the log and place it over the opposite end so that a small hole remains in the center. Place the “love knots” on cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 18 minutes.
5. While the cookies are baking, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the water until smooth. While the cookies are cooling, brush the tops with the glaze; it should have a thick consistency, as it will melt on the surface and form a thick glaze as the taralli cool.