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Taralli Dolci
roccoco biscotti
Roccoco Biscotti or Rococo Biscotti (Sweet taralli, without yeast, with oil, almonds, cinnamon and lemon/orange; baked)
Originated from: Southern Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup ground roasted almonds
1 1/2 cups flour*
1/4 cup water*
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 egg yolk (for brushing)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 small orange (finely grated and mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar)
Zest of 1 small lemon (finely grated and mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg [optional]

Icing sugar for dusting [optional]

* measurement is approximate


Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, almonds and zest of one orange and lemon.

Mix the oil, eggs and water together.

Mix the flour mixture with the liquid mixture. Work into a taralli-style dough. Knead for five minutes or so (If the mixture is too soft, add more flour; if the mixture is too hard, add more water.).

Make two or three logs out of the dough. Let them rest covered if you like (I didn't find step this necessary).

Cut the logs into smaller pieces (Do one roccoco biscotti at a time so the dough doesn't harden).

Roll out each piece of dough into a taralli-style rope -- about 7 inches long, and 3/4 to 1 inch wide (Once baked the roccoco biscotti should look like a donut, but taste like a taralli!).

Shape each stick of dough into a circle, pinching the ends together (Widen the hole in the center if necessary -- the roccoco biscotti will get bigger in the oven, so if the hole isn't big enough it will disappear altogether).

Brush the tops of the roccoco biscotti with beaten egg yolk.

Place the roccoco biscotti on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.*


Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving [optional].

* Please note that everyone has a favorite way of baking taralli. Some place them directly on the oven racks, others use wire racks, and still others use greased cookie sheets or alternatively, cookie sheets lined with silicon baking mats. The type of bake ware used will determine the amount of time needed for the taralli to cook. Some cooks will turn on the broiler towards the end of the cooking time to make sure the tops of the taralli are well-cooked. Other cooks will flip the taralli over. Basically, regardless of the type of bakeware used, the cook will have to keep a close eye on the taralli, as they (in particular, the small-sized ones), burn easily. Trial and error is an important part in cooking any recipe and for taralli it's no different.


There are two totally different biscotti recipes that go by the name of "roccoco." One is an almond nugget style of biscotti, the other is a taralli style one. This recipe is for former. The spelling of the word "roccoco" differs in various recipes -- sometimes the word has two "Cs" in the middle and sometimes only one. The roccoco biscotti that are presently sold in Italian grocery shops in Montreal are spelled with two "Cs." Obviously, like with many other Italian recipes, there are numerous variations. Nonetheless, all the recipes include: ground almonds, flour, eggs, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and the zest of one orange and lemon. However, some cooks use wine, others water in their recipes; some cooks use baking powder, others yeast. Some cooks use butter, others oil. Some cooks include candied orange and lemon, others do not. Also, the amount of sugar varies. Some cooks add very little, others a lot. Many of the cooks recommend that the roccoco biscotti be dusted with icing sugar prior to serving. On the other hand, the roccoco biscotti being sold in Montreal's grocery shops (They come packaged, factory-made) are not dusted with sugar. Most cooks do use nutmeg in their recipes, but I myself didn't because I simply don't like the taste of nutmeg. Still, roccoco biscotti are sometimes referred to as "spicy" so the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg might be necessary if you want to capture the traditional flavor. Admittedly, I use the touchy-feelie style of cooking, adding a bit of this and that, so often by the end of the cooking session, I haven't the foggiest idea of how much of this and that I used. Generally, the results are edible. In fact, the roccoco biscotti I made were quite delicious. Getting this recipe to work for you is worth the effort. The combination of almonds, lemon and orange zest in a taralli-style biscotti is absolutely wonderful. In fact, of all the taralli I have ever had the pleasure of eating, these roccoco are by far my favorite. Photo: Mary Melfi

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