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Taralli Recipe

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Taralli are snack food, a type of bread common throughout the southern half of the Peninsula: they're doughnut shaped, about 3 inches across, and are moderately crunchy; they can be either somewhat sweet or slightly salty, and some people sprinkle their surfaces with anise seed, pepper, or whatever.

Prep Time: 6 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound white flour
  • 1/4 cup or slightly more honey, depending on its sweetness
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 15 grams (2/3 ounce) baker's yeast (of the kind that's a moist cake, and sold in supermarkets)
  • Salt

Preparation:

Begin by placing a half cup of flour in a bowl. Crumble the yeast into it, and add enough tepid water to make a fairly soft loaf. Cover with a cloth and let the loaf rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it doubles in volume.

Next, mix together on your work surface 3 1/2 cups of flour, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 eggs, the honey, the starter loaf, and a little warm water. Knead the dough energetically for a few minutes, then pinch off so many egg-sized pieces and roll them into 3-inch snakes on a floured work surface. Pinch the ends together to make rings, put them on a lightly floured pan, cover them with a cloth, and put them in a warm draft-free place to rise for 4 hours.

When they have risen, preheat the oven to 360 F (180C), and bring a large pot of unsalted water to boil. Lightly grease a cookie tin with the remaining oil. Dunk the taralli in the boiling water, and as soon as they rise to the surface remove them with a slotted spoon and arrange them on the tin. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

They'll keep quite well, for a couple of months in a well-sealed box. You could also substitute 1/2 cup sugar for the honey if you wish.

There's another version of taralli that can be dipped in wine: use the same ingredients called for above, but substitute 1/4 cup sugar for the honey, and add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of whatever liqueur you like (something sweet and aromatic I would think), and 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon.

Then, once the taralli have risen, fry them in hot oil till half-done, remove them to absorbent paper, incise a ring in the upper surface (what you end up with will look like a circular two-lane road), and finish frying them.

These should be served immediately, as they don't keep well, with a sweet dessert wine such as Moscato di Pantelleria or sweet Marsala.

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