Food and Wine,  Totoro Family Recipes

Totoro Family Recipes: Taralli

Taralli are my husband’s favorite Cora recipe. She would always have a few on hand just in case he might stop by and need a snack. The rest of us find them dry and bland. Geoff, however, can take one bite and immediately go back in time to his grandmother’s kitchen in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A simpler time when Sunday dinner would last for hours and abbondanza the family motto.

Cora’s recipe is similar to an Italian bagel in size and shape. Each Tarallo is first shaped into a ring, then quickly boiled before baking in the oven. When we visited Italy in 2015, I found packages of Taralli at the local Auto-Grille (gas and convenience store). These Taralli came in a variety of flavors (black pepper – fennel – sesame – olive oil) and were much smaller than Cora’s. In addition, the texture was more like a cracker than a bagel. I LOVED them… Geoff does not. They simply aren’t the same.

Interestingly… Cora’s southern Italian dialect made finding online recipes difficult. Her recipe card is titled, Tarella, but she pronounced them TA-dals. I love this inconsistency though. It adds a bit of authenticity to the family history, don’t you think?

The following is Cora’s recipe as she passed it down to me. I will also note the changes I’ve made to recreate the authentic crackers I found in Italy.

Cora’s Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3+ cups flour

My Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Cora’s Directions:

  1. Beat well the eggs, salt, pepper, and oil.
  2. Slowly add 3 cups of flour (or more) until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn onto a floured board and start kneading while you gradually add about another cup of flour.
  4. Continue to knead and add flour until dough is no longer sticky but soft and elastic.
  5. Let rest about 15 minutes.
  6. Cut enough to roll and form into rings
  7. Drop into boiling water for 10 minutes (about 4 at a time).
  8. Remove and let cool.
  9. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.

My Directions:

  1. Beat eggs and wine until combined.
  2. Add salt, pepper, about half the flour, and baking powder. Continue Mixing.
  3. Add the oil and then the remaining flour.
  4. Mix until combined and dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  5. Turn onto a floured board and knead (gradually adding flour as needed) until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  6. Let rest for 10-15 minutes.
  7. From the dough, cut small pieces (about the size of a golf ball) and roll out to a long pencil shape.
  8. Cut “pencil” in half – roll each half a little longer and thinner – then form into a ring.
  9. Be sure to pinch ends together so they don’t separate while baking.
  10. Repeat the process until all the dough is cut, rolled, and shaped into rings.
  11. Place on baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.
  12. Optional: brush an egg wash over the top of the rings for a shiny glaze.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  14. Lower the heat to 225 degrees and bake about 40-45 minutes longer – or until golden brown.

We enjoy eating these crackers as is, but they also pair well with Burrata or Ricotta cheese. I’ve also enjoyed them with Hummus. What Mediterranean dips might you suggest?

 

This post is part of BethFishReads Weekend Cooking LinkUp. For more delicious recipes, please visit her weekly blog feature.

16 Comments

  • judee

    My husband’s family is middle eastern and his grandmother was Italian. They make something like this but call it a different name. Must be a mixture of the cultures!! Yours look delcious

    • Molly Totoro

      I think it is fascinating that the same recipe can be known by different names depending upon the Italian region. I know north Italy was considered more cultural and the south more peasant. My husband’s family was from the south 🙂

  • mae

    Your family history is fascinating. Quite a few Italian authors have been tracing those types of family and regional recipes, which are of course being lost as mass-produced foods and convenience cooking take over the globe. If they are like American bagels (now mainstream, not ethnic any more) they might go with a smoked fish dip or spread: the Mediterranean one is taramasalata, but you could also try smoked whitefish spread (Costco makes an awesome one) or smoked salmon cream cheese.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • Molly Totoro

      Mae … I LOVE the idea of smoked whitefish spread! Cora also made fried whiting each year for the Vigil (Feast of Seven Fishes). At the time, I didn’t care for it, so eliminated from our celebration. However, now that I am more nostalgic for her Italian authenticity, I would love to try this whitefish dip. I will be going to Costco next week for sure 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation!

    • Molly Totoro

      I am really fascinated by the dialects. I want to do some more genealogy about the area her family originated (Compania – about an hour east of Naples) and try to find recipes typical of that locale.

    • Molly Totoro

      Thanks for stopping, Tina! I am a bit obsessed these days researching my husband’s Italian heritage and experimenting with family recipes. I’m glad others enjoy reading what I share 🙂

  • Leslie Clingan

    These sound delicious – both varieties. I love the bagels from the shop in the mall. I am sure your taralli are more flavorful and tasty. My sister just visited and made me try bleu cheese with honey drizzled on top. I turned up my nose until I had one bite. Oh, my goodness!! So good. Thinking that combination would be good spread on your crackers.

    • Molly Totoro

      Taralli are a bit more crispy whereas mall-style bagels are chewier – if that makes sense 🙂
      Bleu cheese and honey sounds like a terrific option – I will definitely try it next time. Thank you for the suggestion!

  • Beth F

    I”m going to have to try your recipe. I made taralli just a few weeks ago but your recipe sounds better. We love them! (I was out of town so I’m late to respond.)

    • Molly Totoro

      I’d love to hear your recipe! I’m amazed how many different renditions there are to this simple Italian snack 🙂

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