Baci di Dama or rather Lady’s Kisses are melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut cookies which are nestled together with a dollop of dark silky chocolate.
These light and delicate hazelnut morsels are one of Italy’s famous cookies and were made popular by the pastry shops of Tortona in the province of Alessandria which is in the Piemonte region of Italy. Small wonder at that as hazelnuts from Piemonte are said to be the very best and also legally protected as “Nocciola Piemonte I.G.P”.
Although the history of Baci di Dama are somewhat hazy, what people most agree upon is that they resemble sensual lips pursed together while longingly bestowing a kiss on a loved one…the chocolate being the glue that softly binds a lovers lips together.
Glancing through a wonderfully illustrated cookbook titled “Dolce, Italy’s Sweets” by Francine Segan, I came across these sweet little morsels and I knew I would be making them one day soon. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner these cookies are a perfect timing and make a lovely celebratory treat. Sweet edible kisses!
Although the first batch I tried certainly did not lack in flavor, they looked nothing like the cute little domed baci I had seen in the photo. Niente…nothing…nada!
My cookies had spread out considerably and were somewhat flat rather then dome shaped as they were meant to be…(photo below). Although, I did suspect that I had not incorporated the butter well enough, especially after seeing small clumps of butter in the dough as I rolled them out into little balls. Also, my food processor is a 4 cup capacity and probably too small for this amount of cookie dough.
I continued my quest and searched for the perfect domed shaped baci di dama. However after a little research it was quite clear that there is a rather standard ratio of equal amounts of hazelnuts, flour, sugar and butter.
Going back to Francine Segan’s recipe, I decided to give it another go with a few modifications.
Therefore, the second time around I opted to mix the flour with softened butter by hand in order to get a more cohesive dough.
I also increased the amount of hazelnuts by a 1/4 cup. This yielded a dough that was much easier to roll without having to use extra flour in the rolling process.
Finally, I added a pinch of fine sea salt simply to brighten the flavors and make them pop!
Most noteworthy here is to bake the cookies at a lower temperature. For my oven 300 degrees F. was spot on. This lower temperature helped the cookies retain their round shape during the baking process without over browning the cookies too much.
With a lovely crumbly texture these classic Italian cookies are wonderfully fragrant which are largely due to the roasted hazelnuts. After biting into one of these delicate cookies, I found them to be very reminiscent of the Baci chocolates whereas my hubby insists that they are far more similar in taste to the Ferrero Rocher.
You will most certainly have to bake them and decide for yourself!
TIPS ON MAKING PERFECT DOMED SHAPED BACI DI DAMA
- Make sure to finely grind the hazelnuts with the 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Chill the dough in the coldest part of your fridge at least two hours (overnight is best).
- Roll the cookie balls into the size of a hazelnut in its shell then chill for an additional 2 hours or if short on time freeze the rolled cookies for 1/2 hour.
- Bake one cookie sheet at a time at a low temperature of 300 degrees F, while keeping the remaining cookies well chilled.
- Do not over bake the cookies as this will change the texture of the cookie.
- The cookies are very fragile once out of the oven so do not touch them (they break easily). Allow to cool on the cookie sheet placed over a cooling rack.
- Make sure they are completely cooled before filling with the melted chocolate.
- Allow yourself plenty of time and never rush a good thing! They are so worth it!
- 1 cup roasted hazelnuts
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt ( I used fine sea salt )
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
- Place the hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor. Process until the hazelnuts are finely ground. (leave in food processor).
- Combine the remaining sugar, flour, a pinch of salt and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
- Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to work this mixture just until the butter is evenly distributed and resembles clusters of streusel topping.
- Add the flour and butter mixture to the hazelnut mixture in the food processor. Pulse till the dough comes together in a dense mass.
- Shape and flatten the dough out into about a 6 inch round disk.
- Wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. (I chilled my dough for 4 hours). The dough should be very cold and firm.
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the disk of dough and cut ½ inch strips.
- Working with one strip at a time, cut the strip into ½ inch pieces of dough and roll each piece into smalls balls about the size of a hazelnut in its shell.
- Place the balls on the parchment lined cookie sheet while spacing them about 2 inches apart.
- Once you have filled one cookie sheet, place it in the fridge and repeat with the remaining cookie balls.
- Chill the rolled cookies for about 2 hours or if pressed for time freeze for ½ hour.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Bake one sheet at a time for about 13 minutes. They should look light golden in color.
- Place the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the second cookie sheet.
- Let the baked cookies cool completely before filling with the melted chocolate.
- When ready to assemble the cookies place the dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt it on high for about one minute stopping to stir at 30 second intervals.
- Use a small spoon or fill a piping container with the melted chocolate and put a dollop of chocolate on the flat side of a cookie.
- Top (flat side down) with a second cookie while pressing down slightly to form a sandwich.
- Repeat with the remaining cookies.
- Store in a cool dry place.