A couple of years ago, I belonged to an inline cooking group called Sunday Slow Bakers. One of the projects we did was to make multiple recipes from "Dolce Italiano" by Gina De Palma. I love this cookbook. I've made many tasty treats from this book.
Recently I decided to make taralli, a type of crunchy Italian pretzel. I made this recipe during our cooking group but hadn't made them in a couple of years. We had a few days of nice weather where we were able to sit out on the deck, and I wanted a crunchy little snack to have with a glass of wine.
These do take some time to make. Like bagels, they are first put into simmering water, then drained, placed on a baking sheet, and baked until crunchy. I flavored mine with red pepper and oregano, but next time I think I'll use just fresh rosemary.
Taralli. Makes 16 to 20
4 1/2 cups "oo" flour
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano or other desired herb
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (you could omit if you don't want the heat)
1cup plus 2 tablespoons dry white wine
1cup extra virgin olive oil
Flour for dusting bowl and kneading
Place the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the wine and oil and use the paddle attachment on medium speed to form a smooth dough. Continue beating for 3 minutes; the dough should be firm and smooth.
Lightly brush the inside of another bowl with olive oil and sprinkle it generously with additional flour. Place the dough in the bowl and dust the top with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a stockpot or Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Season the water with 1 tablespoon salt. Prepare 2 baking sheets by lightly brushing them with olive oil. Have ready paper towels to drain the taralli on.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it lightly. Divide the dough into 4 pieces; return 3 of the pieces to the bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Roll the piece of dough into a long rope about 3/4" in diameter and about 18" long. Cut the rope into 4 or 5 pieces and shape each piece into a ring, making a small knot at the top. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Working in batches of 4 or 5, drop the rings, one at a time, into the simmering water. The taralli will sink then rise to the surface. Increase the heat under the pot as needed to maintain an even simmer. Alllow the taralli to float to the surface for 30-45 seconds then gently scoop them out of the water with a Chinese skimmer or slotted spoon. Drain for a moment on the paper towel before placing on the baking sheets. They won't rise much, so you don't need to space them far apart. Continue until all if the taralli are boiled.
Bake the taralli for 25-35 minutes, rotating the sheets 180 degrees halfway through baking. Bake until evenly browned and crisp, remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.