This is the third recipe in my Regions of Italy project. It’s a cookie that comes from the town of Chieti in Abruzzo. It is unique in that it calls for dry red wine.
I really want to say that these cookies are awesome. Unfortunately, this recipe was a complete disaster right from the start. Here’s why.
The original recipe said to make a well with flour, and in the well, to put sugar, oil, and salt. Then, you start adding wine to form an elastic dough. This couldn’t possibly make an elastic dough because it’s basically a sugar cookie. There’s no yeast, no rising, no kneading involved. Bread dough is elastic. Pizza dough is elastic. Cookie dough is not elastic. But I thought, maybe they just used the wrong word in the translation. What they really wanted to say, I surmised, was a dough that comes together, that stays together as a whole.
Sounds good. Except that it never came together. No matter how much I tried to bring it all together, it kept crumbling. I quickly realized why. There are no eggs. There is absolutely nothing in the recipe that binds the ingredients.
Which led to the next problem. The recipe said to break the dough into pieces (and it doesn’t say how big these pieces are supposed to be or how many to make), roll them out into ropes, and bring the ends together to make circles. This was an absolute impossibility, Even after I chilled the dough, I couldn’t even make balls with it, let alone ropes. So, I did the only thing I could—I squeezed together mounds of dough and just placed them on the baking sheets. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about expansion because there was nothing in there to expand. The bottoms started to burn while the rest remained raw. I turned them over and flattened them. They baked a while longer. I took them out and let them cool on a rack. And you know what?They were as hard as rock. It was like trying to bite into a quarter. So, out they went.Now, I don’t know if leaving out the egg was a mistake on their part, or if people in Abruzzo are able to perform some sort of eggless magic that I’m not capable of (and maybe they are), but these cookies were a major fail.
So, I giving you the recipe here as I think it should be. I can’t say how many it makes because I didn’t make them they way they were meant to be made. I’m going to circle back and give this one a try again with the eggs later on. Maybe the next batch will be a success.
Tarallucci alla Chietina
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup dry red wine
In a large bowl or on a work surface, make a well with the flour. In the center, place the sugar, egg, oil, and salt. Start mixing in the flour, a little at a time, working your way around the inside of the well. Begin adding the wine, a little at a time, until a dough forms.
Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. Cover it with a clean kitchen cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the work surface. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and then each piece into 2-inch pieces. Roll out each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope. Join the ends to make a ring. Arrange the rings on the prepared baking sheet. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they are firm and start to brown.