Friday, December 9, 2011

Italian Taralle Cookies (Taralluces)

Christmas baking continues today with taralluces - little taralle cookies.  My Grandmother Rinaldi used to make these and taught my Mom how to make them.  Mom would make them for special occasions like Christmas.  The recipe is pretty straight forward.  The hardest part is getting the cookies shaped prior to baking because the dough is rather sticky and requires a quick and steady well-floured hand to roll a small 'snake' of dough and tie in a knot.  Here's a picture of the shaped cookies prior to baking -

After baking the cookies expand quite a bit and before they are iced and sprinkles added, they look pretty non-descript -

Once they are completely cooled, the cookies are dipped in confectionary sugar icing and sprinkles are added.  These cookies are so light but flavorful - they disappear really quickly.
The recipe -

Taralluces (Little Taralle Cookies)

3 Eggs
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk
3/4 Crisco, melted and cooled to body temp (do not allow to solidify)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract(or use all vanilla if you prefer)
3 cups All purpose flour
3 rounded tsp. baking powder
For icing:
1 pkg confectioners(powdered) sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon or vanilla extract(your choice)

In a stand mixer -
Beat eggs well.  Add sugar and milk gradually.  Continue beating.  Add Criso, beat.  Add extracts and beat.  In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed just to incorporate after each addition.  Dough will be sticky.  Flour your work surface and hands well.  Take about 1 TBSP of dough and roll into a 'snake' shape about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and 3-4 inches long.  Tie the dough rope into a knot as if for knotted rolls.  Place on cookie sheet, leaving at least an inch between cookies.  Bake at 400F for 7-10 minutes until bottom is lightly browned.  Removed from oven and place on cooling racks.  Allow to cool completely. 

For icing: in a small bowl, add vanilla and milk to the confectioners sugar a little at a time until a smooth icing about the consistency of cold molasses is achieved.  Dip the to of each cookie in the icing and set down on a rack under which waxed paper has been placed to catch the drips.  Immediately sprinkle with colord non-pareil sprinkles.  Let dry overnight before putting in a plastic container or cookie tins for storage.
Yield: Approximately 7 dozen cookies

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, or just by themselves but be careful, they are addictive.

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