When I first saw these adorable little cookies on an episode of Arcana Famiglia, I knew I just had to make them… Made of two hazelnut cookies with a smear of dark chocolate to hold it all together, these bite sized sandwich cookies offer plenty of crunch, texture, and a subtle sweetness that pairs wonderfully with tea and coffee.
Called baci di dama, or lady’s kisses, because they resemble pursed lips ready for a kiss, these cookies originate from Italy… making them an appropriate little treat to be featured in the Italian-inspired anime of the Arcana Famiglia.
About the recipe:
A fair warning about these cookies: I found the dough a bit difficult to work with, though with some patience, it can be coaxed into shape. If the dough is really not holding together, try kneading it a bit, or adding a tiny amount of melted butter. I found that keeping the dough nearly frozen worked well when forming the cookies, popping the dough back into the freezer when it became difficult to work with.
You’ll also need two pieces of equipment to make these cookies: a food processor to chop the hazelnuts up, and a kitchen scale to ensure perfectly proportioned cookies. Of course you can just eyeball the dough when you form the cookies, but a scale will certainly make your cookies more even by taking the guesswork out of it all.
Baci di dama are wonderful little cookies, full of hazelnut flavour and a sweetness offset by the richness of the dark chocolate. They also have a funny grainy texture from the sugar crystals not dissolving in the somewhat dry dough. While I wasn’t sure if I loved the texture when I first ate these cookies, it did grow on me quite a lot as I munched away. I think I’ll try making them with powdered sugar next time, to see the difference in texture.
About the ingredients:
Hazelnuts, or filberts, are tree nuts shaped like very rounded tear drops. They are generally sold with their dark brown skins on, and should be toasted and peeled before being used in baking.
To toast the nuts, simply spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer, and bake in an oven pre-heated to 350 F. Stir every 3 – 5 minutes until the nuts are golden brown and the skins begin to peel away, about 15 – 20 minutes. Let the nuts cool before rubbing the skins off the hazelnuts.
Hazelnuts can be bought in many grocery stores, bulk food stores, and specialty food stores. I generally buy mine in bulk because it allows me to get exactly the amount I need, which is perfect since nuts tend to go rancid if left unused for too long. If you can’t find hazelnuts, skinless almonds can be used instead… just make sure to toast them first!
Rice flour is a gluten-free flour made from (you guessed it) rice. It can be found in many grocery stores, and has a rather fine texture. In this recipe, the rice flour gives a nice crunch to the cookies. If you can’t find rice flour where you live, or don’t feel like buying a bag of the stuff just for one recipe, unbleached all purpose flour can easily be used instead.
Baci di Dama
Makes about 40 cookies
- 1 1/4 cups (140g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 1 cup (140g) rice flour or unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (~100g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until it resembles a coarse powder, being careful not to over process lest it turns into a paste.
2. Place ground hazelnuts and flour in a large bowl, mixing to combine. Add butter, sugar, and salt and, using your hands, mix together, mash the butter into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated. The resulting dough should be smooth, holding together in a cohesive mass. Knead the dough if it does not.
3. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll the dough into evenly proportioned logs, 3/4 inch thick. Place on a tray or plate lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper, and chill in the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the logs are firm and partially frozen.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325 F.
5. Working one log at a time, while keeping the others in the freezer, use a pastry cutter or knife to cut the dough evenly into approximately 1/2 inch segments, ideally 5 grams each. If you don’t have a scale, just try to make each piece the same size, approximately the size of a marble.
6. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth and even ball. Chill the dough if it becomes too soft or sticky to work with. Place the balls on the baking sheet without flattening the dough, spaced about 1 inch apart.
Bake until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the cooking time, about 12 – 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 – 15 minutes (to prevent crumbling), before gently transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
7. Place chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, and melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Be careful not to let moisture touch the chocolate or it could cause it to seize.
8. To assemble the cookies, line the domed cookies up in pairs, one positioned with the flat side facing up. Using a spoon or a small piping bag, apply a dollop of melted chocolate about the size of a chocolate chip at the centre of the cookie with the flat side facing up. Place the second cookie on top. Do not press down too much or the chocolate may flow out. Let the cookies rest until the chocolate has solidified.
The baci di dama can be kept for up to one week in an airtight container.
Serve as a snack or dessert with tea or coffee.
Source: David Lebovitz