Taralli dolci are also known as Italian Easter cookies. These sweet and simple ring cookies are perfect holiday treats, glazed with pastel colors and topped with flower sprinkles. But don’t just enjoy them at Easter! Change up the decorations and they are ready for any celebration, from Christmas to summer cookouts.
And what could be a better way to start than to post a favorite?
These cookies can be either a savory cracker similar to a crunchy American breadstick in texture or a sweet, glazed cookie. The dolci at the end means this is the sweet version. 🙂
There are lots of different variations, some with wine, some without, some flavored with anise or almond, others with citrus or vanilla, and of course adaptations for Italian American tastes versus Italian tastes.
The ones I made here are soft and tender, flavored with vanilla (though a little citrus in the dough would be lovely!), and glazed with pastel icing. Everything I could want!
They are perfect with a cup of coffee or my daughter’s favorite accompaniment – a cold glass of milk.
How to make this
To make Italian Easter cookies, mix together a soft dough of flour, eggs, sugar, and butter. Then shape the dough into rings and bake until puffed and golden. Glaze with colored icing and top with sprinkles.
1. Make the dough
This is a very simple to make. No machines needed!
Whisk together the eggs and sugar until they are light colored and bubbly. Then pour in the melted butter and vanilla and whisk smooth. Lastly add the flour. Whisk quickly and just until most of the flour is mixed in. Then pull out your silicone spatula and give the dough a few turns. Done!
You can see that the dough is very soft and rather wet in the photo. No worries, though. Just pop it in the fridge for a a bit (15-20 minutes) and it will become much easier to work with.
2. Shape the cookies
Taralli dolci are traditionally shaped into rings. You can use different shapes if you wish, but rings look nice and are easy to do.
To make the rings, scoop out a ~walnut sized piece of dough (or, if you don’t like estimating, use a #40 cookie scoop). Then roll it out into a 4-5 inch rope and bring it around into a circle. Pinch the ends together and you have a ring.
Put each shaped ring on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and then bake for 12-14 minutes. The cookies will be lightly browned and puffed.
3. Ice the tops
Once your cookies are baked and cooled, it’s time to frost them with pretty colors!
For each cup of powdered sugar, you will want to mix in about 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. If you are going to make one color of icing, then you will need two cups of powdered sugar. However, I find I always need more if I am going to make a few colors (there is some loss when you split up the icing).
So, for this recipe – with 4 colors – I used 3 cups powdered sugar, 5 tablespoons of milk, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. I like to start with a bit less milk than I probably need and then add by little bits until I like how to the icing flows. In this case I went with an icing that drips down a little but needs to be spooned onto the tops, not drizzled.
They can be frozen for up to 2 months if well wrapped and sealed.
You can freeze the unbaked dough, just let it fully thaw before shaping the cookies. Or you can freeze the baked (UN-ICED) cookies once they have come out of the oven and cooled. To get just baked texture, pop them into the oven at 350F for a few minutes after they have thawed.
Store fully cooled and iced cookies in a sealed container on the counter for up to 5 days. Use waxed paper between the layers so the icing doesn’t stick.
If you try my recipe for Italian Easter Cookies, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Italian Easter Cookies (Taralli Dolci)
- 2 1/2 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour, scoop and sweep method
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 - 5 tbsp milk, plus more if needed
- gel coloring, optional
- sprinkles or nonpareils, optional
Make the Dough
- Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until they are light colored and rather thick and bubbly, 3-4 minutes.
- Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Add the flour and whisk in without overmixing. Then use a silicone spatula to finish combining the flour.
- Chill the dough for 15-20 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape the Rings
- Take a walnut sized piece of dough and roll into a 4-5 inch rope.
- Make a ring from the rope and pinch the ends together. Continue until you have used all the dough.
- Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, or until light golden brown and puffed up.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
Ice the Cookies
- Once the cookies are cool, make the icing.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons of milk. The icing should be thick but flow off the end of the whisk. Add more milk until it reaches the right consistency.
- If you are using multiple colors, divide the icing among the appropriate number of bowls. Add a TINY amount of gel coloring to each bowl and mix it in. Add more coloring if needed to produce the color you want.
- Ice by scooping some of the icing onto the top of the cookie and spreading it around with the back of your spoon.
- Top with sprinkles or nonpareils if desired.
- Allow the icing to fully harden and dry (this may take an hour or more) and then transfer the cookies to a sealed container for storage.
- Gel coloring: These colors can be extremely concentrated and you will only need the smallest amount. Not even a drop. Remember it is much easier to add a little more color than it is to mix a bunch more icing. I used Wilton gel coloring.
- Chilling the dough: This isn't strictly necessary, but I do find the dough to be very soft and hard to work without a rest in the fridge.
- Icing: If you prefer a thin icing, add more milk so the icing can flow freely. In that case you will likely only need 2 cups worth of powdered sugar icing.
- Scooping the dough: I used a #40 disher (what I consider my large cookie scoop). With this size I made exactly 30 cookies.
- Variations: You can replace the vanilla with almond or anise. Or you can add some lemon zest to the dough for a lemony cookie.
- Scoop and Sweep Method: To measure the flour, scoop the flour up with your measuring cup and sweep off the excess. Or use a kitchen scale to measure by weight.
BitofBacon Pet Corner
I can never leave my laptop open and walk away or I come back to this! 😮 (Midnight says my laptop is warm and toasty.)
Even better is that he always manages to change some of my laptop settings.