Taralles

Taralles are traditional Italian Christmas cookies brightened with fresh orange juice and a creamy slather of vanilla icing.

By Louise Spinelli, Napa, California

As appeared in

Taralles are great fun to make with your family and especially your kids. The kids love to help twist the dough into knots and ice the cookies.

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

1 pound butter, softened

2 cups sugar

12 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 fresh orange (juice and rind)

10–12 cups all-purpose flour

10 heaping teaspoons baking powder

Icing

4 cups confectioners' sugar

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3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 drops almond extract (optional)

5 tablespoons milk (add more as necessary)

Preparation

Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl cream together softened butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Add vanilla. Grate orange zest from orange; add to mixture. Extract juice from orange; add to mixture. Blend well.

3. In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder.

4. Gradually add flour/baking powder to the creamed egg mixture, beating continuously to form smooth dough. Knead dough by hand or with an electric mixer until smooth. Place dough under a glass bowl to keep moist in preparation for forming the cookies.

5. Form each cookie from a small piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll each ball by hand into a 5–6-inch rope. Twist the rope into a knot. Place formed taralles on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake 8 minutes on second rack from the bottom, until bottom is slightly brown. Move tray to upper oven rack and bake for additional 2–3 minutes until top of cookie is lightly browned. Allow taralles to cool before icing.

Icing

1. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter, vanilla and almond extract. Gradually add milk to make a smooth icing. Mix with a whisk. If necessary add more milk to obtain spreading consistency.

2. Ice each taralle by dipping the cookie into the icing and then smoothing the icing around the cookie with your finger.

Makes 190 small cookies or 160 large cookies

Read the story of these taralles in One Special Cookie.