Helen's Taralli / Taralli di Elena Julian

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

These are not the traditional ringlike taralli; instead, they are shaped as twists, and the dough has cheese in it. As these bake, the smell of black pepper and cheese permeates the house. They are served at Eastertime and disappear very quickly in my house. The original recipe came from Helen Julian, whose ancestral home is Cumblebas, Italy.


  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or lard
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the baking powder and pepper, and set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, olive oil, and cheese with a whisk. Add the flour mixture and mix to form a firm dough. Add more flour as needed to keep dough from getting sticky. Knead until smooth and pliable.
  3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. Break off small balls of dough about 1 inch in diameter and roll into ropes 10 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Hold the rope in the middle with your fingers and twist the 2 ends together, forming a twist about 4 inches long. Place the twists on towels.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  5. In a large pot of boiling water, drop the twists a few at a time and let come to the surface. They will rise to the surface in about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on brown paper to drain. Arrange the twists on baking sheet and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.
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John Gabriel

I just made Helen’s taralli and they turned out beautifully! The recipe came from your delightful cookbook Nella Cucina,which you so warmly inscribed to my mother,Gemma,during a Book and the Cook event in Philadelphia,in 1995. I doubled the cheese the recipe called for,mixing a combination of pecorino and parmigiano,and they turned out so,so GREAT! Some I made in the twist shape and some the round ,more common taralli shape. Mille grazie,Mary Ann!

ann bragaglia

My mother made the 3 types of taralli/ciambella. I was always curious as to why the dough is boiled before it is baked. Is it true that in the ruralold Italy, people did not have ovens. so they could boil their food & then go to a community oven? the boiling would preserve the dough for a bit of time. What would happen if the dough is not boiled? Does the boiling also preserve the baked product a little longer than jus baking? I love thte history of food..the reason that foods are made the way that they are made.

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