Did you figure out what those sugar-coated delights were? Hopefully the hint of Puglia gave you an indication.
I am lucky to spend a lot of time in Puglia, and I love sharing what I see there: going inside a breadmaker’s, going to a festival celebrating mozzarella, an army of orecchiette, or learning how to open and eat sea urchin!
This time around, I’m inside one of my favorite Tarallificio – Biscotteria makers in Manfredonia, Dolciaria Monti. Taralli, (tah-RAHL-lee)a traditional Pugliese snack, is what I like to call “Italy’s Pretzel” – a versatile, crunchy snack made with flour and Pugliese olive oil as the main ingredients.
Inside a Pugliese Tarallificio
Since I have so much to share, I’ll be talking more about how taralli are made and various forms of them this week, but for today, I’ll tell you more about the taralli posted on Friday.
They have several names – Taralli / Taralluci con lo zucchero – Tarallini glassati – Glassati al limone and a few others I’m sure you’ll inform me of (leave them in the comments!).
These taralli also had a special function: they were once used in la colazione, “the breakfast” which was not actually breakfast, but something given to wedding guests as a sort of bomboniere, or wedding favor, including tarallucci con lo zucchero and scaldatelli, which I’ll talk about soon. S’ grandmother can remember La Colazione being used in weddings in that area but now it’s practically extinct as a practice.
The dough for these taralli dolci sweet taralli is not the same dough as the savory ones. It’s slightly sweeter, and the flavor of the oil is not as prevalent in the savory ones. They are also much thicker than normal taralli, so it still has a firmer exterior but a softer semi-cakey/crumbly inside.
That is, once you get past the sugar glaze. The lovely, super-lemony sugar glaze which I think I could drink if not under constant supervision.
The glaze is first heated on the stove, where it’s stirred until the correct consistency is reached. I’ll be speaking more about the family that runs this tarallificio but, as you can see, these taralli con lo zucchero are this girl’s favorite kind. She looked on wistfully until she got a chance to stir, too.
After the glaze is ready, the taralli are dipped and set on wire racks to drip off excess glaze. If you’d like to put your mouth underneath to catch the drips, you’re not alone. The smell in the small kitchen is enough to drive you crazy.
The stainless-steel counter underneath also serves a second purpose. When the taralli have stopped dripping but the glaze is still warm, a pastry scraper gathers up all the excess with a few efficient swipes.
Another Pugliese army is assembled and ready, similar to the orecchiette. After they cool down enough, they’ll be weighed and put into plastic bags for sale. I never forget a bag for our taralli order.
How would you eat these sugary, lemony treats? Have you eaten them before?