Taralli are thin rings of bread dough, baked until firm, golden and crisp. They are a great accompaniment to the garlicky goat cheese spread that follows. If you can’t make your own dough, see the variation at the end of the recipe.
For the Walnut Taralli
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp teaspoon salt
- 1 cup ground California walnuts
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for kneading
- 2 tablespoons, more or less, walnut oil
Roasted Garlic Chevre Spread
- For the Roasted Garlic Chevre Spread
- 12 large garlic cloves, peeled (about 1 head of garlic)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 12 (1 1/2 cups) ounces plain goat cheese (chevre) or fromage blanc
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Walnut Taralli
- Stir the yeast and warm water together in a large bowl and let stand a few minutes, for the yeast to dissolve. Add the salt, walnuts and 2 cups of the flour. Beat vigorously until well mixed, then add enough of the remaining flour to bring the dough together into a cohesive mass.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two. Let the dough rest about 15 minutes. Resume kneading for several minutes, until the dough is smooth, adding just enough additional flour as necessary to keep it from being too sticky to handle. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until about double in bulk.
- Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal pieces. Cut each piece into eight smaller pieces, about the size of a small walnut. Between your palms (flour them lightly if the dough sticks), roll each piece into a thin rope about 6 inches long. Shape into rings, pinching the ends together firmly. As the rings are formed, place on parchment-lined baking sheets, with at least 1 ½ inches between each ring. Brush the rings lightly with walnut oil and let rise slightly—just until about half way to double.
- Bake in a preheated 350º oven for about 45 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. The baking time is long, so the rings remain crisp when cooled. Remove from the baking pan and cool on racks. Store in an airtight container.
Variation: Thaw a 1-pound loaf of frozen bread dough. Place on a floured surface, sprinkle with ½ cup ground walnuts, then knead just until the walnuts are incorporated. Place the dough in a greased bowl and let rise until about double in bulk. Punch the dough down, then divide, shape and bake as directed in the recipe. These might need only 35 – 40 minutes of baking, so watch them carefully.
For the Roasted Garlic Chevre Spread:
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a small baking dish, stir the garlic and olive oil together. Bake 15 – 18 minutes, stirring twice, until the garlic has turned golden brown and softened. Cool to room temperature.
- With the flat side of a fork, crush the garlic into the oil until coarsely mashed. Scrape the garlic and oil into a bowl and add the cheese and parsley. Stir briskly to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Makes about 1 ¾ cups.