Baci Da Dama (Traditional Italian Hazelnut Cookies)
Everybody who knows me knows how much I worship hazelnuts. They are like a second world to me. No wonder you can find the fascination there in my blog name! Oh! and Italy, well, it’s just my go-to-place any time of the day! I am fascinated with it to the core. Let me also tell you first, when you start baking these cookies, the heavenly fragrance is going to surround your nostrils and all your senses like a big ball of blessing from the Almighty. Well, as for the taste, it’s simply delicious and blissful!
Now you would ask me, what did I do different here? And my answer is – I added a bit of citrus to the recipe and the result is – mind-blowing!! This needs to be stamped – chocolate and orange are forever friends, blend them and make up for a brilliant thing! So just grate some orange zest and add it with the melted chocolate for these amazing version of “Baci di Dama” cookies.
Named for their shape which is said to resemble the lips of a lady intent on kissing, Baci Di Dama or ‘ladies’ kisses’ have become a fixture in the Piedmont region since their invention in the town of Tortona over a century and a half ago. Ah these Italians! Delicate and sensual like their cookies!
The other day while cleaning some of the sections in my kitchen, I noticed that a few hazelnuts were lying in a big can. I knew, I had to do something before they find their place in the bin. So I got some extra hazelnuts and decided to bake my gorgeous “Baci Di Dama” coz I wanted to bring something Italian your way and something very dear to Italy, a recipe that they are proud of and something which originates from their rich history.
The premise for making these elegant, bite-sized morsels would appear to be simple. Simply unite two tiny, dome-shaped biscuits together with melted chocolate. And, with equal amounts of ground hazelnuts, flour, butter and sugar to be used, the ingredients are certainly easy enough to remember. There’s no egg to stabilise the biscuits while they are baking though, so a bit of technique is essential to achieving the right shape and consistency. And these tips are as simple as you can think of!
Tips that will help you make perfect Baci Da Dama:
– If the dough is too crumbly and doesn’t hold together, add ice-cold water (start by adding very little).
– It’s very important to chill the cookies at least overnight before baking. These steps help them keep their shape while baking.
– If the cookies melt in the oven, it’s usually because your ingredients were not thoroughly combined and there is too much butter in that ball of dough. Knead the dough until the butter is evenly dispersed.
– You can use almonds, hazelnuts or a mix of both. I prefer to use hazelnuts.
– Also using a relatively low temperature oven helps. Without getting too tensed about which kind of microwave or oven you have, simply set the temperature at 150 or 160 degrees Celsius to bake help this point.
By taking these precautions, your biscuits will refrain from sinking too much and have that delicate, melt in your mouth consistency.
“Patience” should be the subtitle of this recipe that I prepared with a lot of… Love! I may not be Italian but I can be very romantic, at least sometimes – whenever I think of Italy! I say “patience” as I weighed every single lip to obtain a perfect result. I was helped by music and the company of my best friend in my kitchen. An absolutely delicious result!
Baci Di Dama or Lady Kisses are authentic Italian treats prepared with almonds or hazelnuts shaped as lips united by chocolate. They are delicate and have a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is quite addictive.
For the cookies:
100 grams hazelnuts toasted and skinned
100 grams all-purpose flour sifted
100 grams unsalted butter cut into small cubes and at room temperature
85 grams granulated sugar
For the filling:
50 grams bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chopped
1 tsp Orange zest
- Toast the hazelnuts (If you have bought raw ones from the market):
- Toast the hazelnuts at 160 degrees C for 15 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant.
- Remove the hazelnuts from the oven and rub them in a kitchen towel until the loose skins come off (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off).
- Once completely cool, pulse the nuts in a food processor until they resemble sand.
- Transfer the hazelnuts to a bowl, add the flour, butter, and sugar.
- Mix all the ingredients until the butter is evenly dispersed, and the dough is smooth.
- Take off equal-sized pieces (more or less weighing 8 grams each) and roll them into tiny balls between the palms of your hands. Gently roll the ball into a log kind of a shape. Cut off the dough with a sharp knife from both the ends so that you get both the parts of one cookie. Keep rolling the leftover piece of the dough again into a ball and then a long and keep repeating the process till the dough is over.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, slightly spaced apart. Put the baking sheet in the fridge overnight.
- Bake the Baci Di Dama for 15 minutes at 160 C, until they are set to the touch and lightly golden.
- Let the cookies cool completely before filling.
In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Let it cool for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Add the orange zest and mix well.
Put a dollop of the chocolate filling on one cookie and place another one on top. Once filled, put the Baci Di Dama on a cooling wire rack until the chocolate is firm.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.