Baci di dama, meaning “lady’s kisses” are classic Italian cookies from Piemonte, one of the gastronomic meccas of Italy. The region is rich in all sorts of delicacies such as hazelnuts, chocolate, truffles and some of the best wines known to mankind.
Real Baci di dama allegedly come from Tortona, a little town South east of Torino, and are made with almonds. It is also reported that the kisses originate in the Savoia king’s kitchens and are made with hazelnuts.
I’m not fond of our former royals, but I love these cookies. The recipe is quick, easy and fills the kitchen with a rich aroma of nuts and butter that never fails to cheer me up.
- 100 gr. ( 3.5 oz) hazelnuts or almonds
- 125 gr. ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, fridge cold
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150 gr. (1 cup) all purpose flour with low gluten content (9-10%)
- zest of 1/2 orange or 1 lemon
- 1 egg white
- pinch of salt
- powdered sugar to coat
- 60 gr (3 oz ) 70% dark chocolate
- 1/4 teaspoon butter
Toast nuts in a small pan over low heat until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. You can also use equal weight of nut flour but freshly toasted nuts are more flavorful. Cool nuts, then transfer into the bowl of a food processor, add sugar and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add flour, salt, zest, vanilla, blend, then add butter and blend briefly to incorporate. Stir in the egg white and blend until the mixture forms a dough, one more minute. It is important not to overheat the butter in the dough, so make sure to blend for the shortest possible time.
With lightly floured hands roll the dough into 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick cylinders. Cut each cylinder into 2 cm (2/3 inch) pieces and roll them into balls. Carefully arrange the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Note that if it’s summer and your kitchen is hot, you might need to refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes before rolling.
Preheat oven to 180° C/ 350° F. Bake the cookies in middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. Dust the hot cookies generously with powder sugar on all sides, then let them cool.
Melt the chocolate with 1/4 teaspoon butter in the microwave or in a small pan over low heat. Let it cool off to obtain a thick spreadable cream. To assemble the baci di dama, sandwich two cookies of similar size with a thin layer of melted chocolate in between. Serve to high acclaim.
Makes about 40 kisses.