Baci di Dama

Here’s a recipe for all those who love cookies but are looking for a new twist on the subject. These are traditional Italian cookies (literally, “Lady’s Kisses”) which are made from hazelnuts (or almonds, according to your taste) and then sandwiched together with some dark chocolate, so that the two halves are “kissing”. Very moreish, we have an Italian expression which goes “uno tira l’altro” (one follows the other one) and which perfectly describes these cookies. When you make them, please make sure you allow plenty of cooling time in the fridge. The first try I gave these turned out to be a complete disaster as the biscuits literally melted in the oven. Erm. The recipe below if from here and it was a roaring success with the people I tested it on.

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Ingredients

  • 140g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 140g plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 100g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Toast the hazelnuts in a 160ºC oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown color and the skins are peeling away. Remove from the oven and as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, rub the hazelnuts in a tea towel (or if they’re not too hot, with your hands), until as much of the loose skins come off as possible. Let them cool completely before grinding them up.
  2. Put the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them until very fine; they should be the consistency of coarse polenta.
  3. Transfer the ground nuts to a bowl and add the flour. Add the butter, sugar, and salt to the dry ingredients. Use your hands to rub all the ingredients together until the butter is dispersed and completely incorporated. The dough should be very smooth and hold together. If not, knead it until it does.
  4. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece until it’s 2cm round. Try to get them as smooth as possible, with no cracks. If the dough is too long to work with as you roll them out, you can cut the dough at the midway point and work with it in batches.
  5. Chill the dough logs until firm on a small baking sheet or dinner plate lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. “-3 hours is the recommended time.
  6. Preheat oven to 160ºC and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Working with one length of dough at a time, keeping the others in the refrigerator or freezer, cut off equal-sized pieces using a knife or pastry cutter. The ideal is 5 grams each, if working with a scale. The fastest way to do it is to cut one to the right weight, then hold that one alongside the logs and use it as a template to cut the others. Once you’ve cut a length of dough, roll the pieces into nice little balls and place them on the baking sheet, slightly spaced apart.
  8. Continue cutting the dough and rolling it into little balls. Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during cooking, until the tops are lightly golden brown. Let the cookies cool completely.
  9.  In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Put a chocolate chip-sized dollop of chocolate on the bottom of one cookie and take another cookie, and sandwich the two halves together.
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