Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies

by Dorothy Reinhold on November 6, 2022


Print This Post Print This Post Donut-shaped cookies on a plate with additional cookies on a cooling rack in the background

Italian Sweet Taralli are like a dense cracker rolled into a little donut-shaped ring, dipped in crunchy sugar and baked, for a sweet cookie snack.

What are Taralli?

Taralli are so hard to describe. Is it a breadstick, cracker, pretzel or British biscuit-type thing? It’s a mashup of all of those, and is a not-too-sweet crunchy cookie that you will find yourself falling in love with. 

Let’s discuss what it is NOT. It is NOT an overly sweet American-style cookie, like a chocolate chip cookie, or a gooey bar cookie, or a frosted cookie. From an American perspective, I think of them more a lightly sweet cracker, if you know what I mean.

2 Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies on a white marble counterI think it makes a perfect cookie for a holiday cookie platter (especially with sparkling sugar on the outside), and will totally satisfy those for whom traditional cookies might be too sweet or too much. This cookie is ALL THAT, with a crunchy, clean taste. 

Taralli can be savory (often flavored with fennel or anise seeds, red pepper flakes or black pepper, rosemary, oregano, Parmesan or some other cracker-like flavoring along with the white wine, flour and olive oil) and are served with drinks, an Aperol spritz, or wine. They make a great addition to a charcuterie board. 

4 donut-shaped Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies on a leaf-pattered plate But this recipe is a sweet version of Taralli and can be dessert, a snack with coffee or tea, or even a breakfast sweet.

Taralli are said to have originated from the south of Italy — Puglia and Campania. They’re considered cucina povera, or “poor kitchen,” due to their simple ingredient list. Cucina povera is a peasant style of cooking that is appreciated  for its use of inexpensive, everyday ingredients to make delicious dishes.  

How to make Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies

A variety of ingredients for Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies laid out on a white marble countertopFirst, as always, assemble your ingredients. For this recipe, you’ll need…

  • Dry white wine (I used Sauvignon blanc, but use what you have on hand. It should be dry wine, not a sweet wine)
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil (I used Amy Riolo Selections extra virgin olive oil, but again, use what you have or prefer)
  • All purpose flour, unbleached (my favorite brand is King Arthur)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking powder
  • Ground cinnamon (I prefer Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon for its pungency, but use what you like)
  • Coarse sugar crystals (I like the King Arthur white sparkling sugar)

Mix dough in a large bowl either by hand with a wooden spoon, or in a stand mixer on low speed.

A hand rolls out a piece of dough while 6 addtional pieces of dough are on the white cutting boardPortion dough into pieces (the recipes make 48 cookies). Please note that if you taste the raw dough, you will think it tastes heavily of wine and olive oil. This changes during baking!

Roll them out by hand into 4-inch cylinders.

2 columns of 7 cylinders of rolled cookie dough on a white cutting board, with a hand holding a measuring tape to measure their lengthMeasure your first one, and make them all roughly match that!

A hand forms a donut out of a dough cylinder on a white cutting board, with other dough cylinders on the boardRoll into little donuts, and pinch the ends to form a circle.

Hand holds a donut-shaped cookie that is dipped into colored sugar crystals in a white bowlDip tops into sugar crystals. You can use one color, or 2 colors as I did today. Change up the colors to line up with a holiday or the birthday person’s favorite color!

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. They won’t spread during baking, so they can be placed fairly close together. 

A baking sheet full of donut-shaped Taralli cookies with color sugar on top, in the ovenBake.

Hand holding a spatula has 2 cookies being moved to a cooling rack, from a gold colored baking sheetRemove from oven and use a spatula to put cookies on a cooling rack.

40 Italian Sweet Taralli cookies on a cooling rack Let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container at room temperature.

Shall we bake some Sweet Taralli? They’re easy!

Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 48 cookies

Italian Sweet Taralli Cookies

Italian Sweet Taralli are like a dense cracker rolled into a little donut-shaped ring, dipped in crunchy sugar and baked, for a sweet cookie snack.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • For outside of cookie: 1/2 cup colored sugar or sugar crystals (or additional granulated sugar)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine wine and olive oil, and stir to combine. Stir in flour, sugar salt. baking powder and cinnamon. Mix well to combine ingredients, and continue mixing until dough forms a ball. (I did this in a stand mixer on low speed, but you can absolutely do it by hand with a wooden spoon.)
  3. You will be forming 48 cookies, so I like to separate the dough into equal quarters, and work with one-quarter of the dough at a time. To form cookies, on a cutting board or clean surface, pinch off pieces of dough and roll each piece into a 4-inch cylinder (like a little cigar). Bring the 2 ends together and pinch them so they stay put, to form a circle. Repeat this action to form 48 cookies. Logistically, I did one tray of cookies and put it in the oven to bake while I worked on the second tray. Again, if you are working with one-quarter of the dough at a time, each dough quarter will make 12 cookies.
  4. In a wide shallow bowl or a on a plate, put the finishing sugar. Dip the top of each formed cookie into this sugar.
  5. Place cookies 1/4-inch apart on the baking sheet. (Cookies will not spread.) Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cookies are hard and bottoms just begin to turn golden (lift one up to look at it!). Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.
  6. Makes 48 cookies.
  7. They freeze well, in an airtight container.

Notes

Recipe source: Adapted from Taralli dolci al vino/Sweet Wine Biscuits, in the cookbook "Italian Recipes for Dummies," by Amy Riolo (2022, John Wiley & Sons Publishing).

https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/italian-sweet-taralli-cookies/

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Italian Sweet Taralli cookies on a cooling rack

About the book

Italian Recipes for Dummies cookbook coverThis recipe is adapted from a great new book called “Italian Recipes for Dummies,” by Amy Riolo {affiliate link}. It’s an authoritative, deeply researched book by Riolo, who is an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, and TV personality. I plan to keep it on my shelves as a resource for whenever I need to consult about Italian recipes and foods. She has this Taralli recipe listed under “Holiday and Special Occasion Treats,” and it is that, for sure! Even though it is not at all like a gooey, overstuffed American cookie, it still satisfies as a sweet bite to finish a meal. That’s what I like about these. They are not overly sweet or cloying, yet they tell my mouth that I have had dessert! 

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