Italian food is pretty easy to love. Pizza and pasta are staples of most of American’s diets, and Italian restaurants are a dime a dozen. Our prepared food section has plenty of Italian specialties like A Casa Pizza and Italian bread. But when you think of Italian food, do you tend to think of Italian cookies? I hadn’t really thought much about them until I tried these.
My husband and I stopped at a cute little Italian café that was complete with an espresso bar and a huge case of freshly baked cookies. The cookies looked interesting, but I didn’t know quite what to expect when I tried them. I remember being blown away after one bite, and trying to determine how the Italians had mastered this cookie magic! It took quite a lot of perusing the internet to figure out just what these cookies were, and then from there to perfect the recipe. They are called Baci di Dama – or Lady Kisses and the c is pronounced as a “ch”. They only call for 5 ingredients, so they are not hard, but they do require some time and a few steps.
If you’re looking for a new cookie recipe to bring to a Christmas cookie exchange, these are just the thing–although you may just want to keep them all to yourself after tasting a few!
First you have to toast and then cool the shelled hazelnuts. I usually do this in a large non-stick pan over medium heat until the hazelnut skins start falling off, stirring frequently to avoid burning. If each hazelnut’s skins fall off I sort them out and discard them, but if they don’t fall off I leave them in. It makes for a pretty speckled color in the cookies.
Then you have to blend them in a food processor. Next you mix together all the ingredients except the chocolates: butter, sugar, flour and the ground toasted hazelnuts. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, then refrigerate in an airtight container or plastic zip bag at least 1 hour. Bake them and then let them cool.
When it comes to chocolate, our market sells the perfect thing! Dark Chocolate Wilbur Buds are already just the right size. Once the cookies have cooled, flip half of them over, place a Wilbur Bud on top and then let them melt slightly for a few minutes in a warm oven. Then sandwich another cookie on top. Allow them to cool again, if you can wait!
- 1⅓ cups hazelnuts (200 grams)
- 1⅓ cups flour (200 grams)
- 1 cup butter (200 grams), room temperature cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
- 7-8 ounces (200 grams) Wilbur Bud dark chocolates or similar size dark chocolates
- Toast the hazelnuts on a skillet or in the oven, until the skins start falling of. Let them cool and remove skins (as much as you can). Toasting the hazelnuts really does make the flavor much better.
- Add hazelnuts to a food processor and pulse until fairly fine. Add the rest of the ingredients except chocolate. Pulse until well combined. Make sure there are no lumps of butter.
- Form into just slightly larger than marble size balls. These will seem tiny, but trust me. They get bigger when cooked and they are supposed to be bite-sized when assembled. Chill in fridge at least one hour. Since there's no egg and no leavening agent, chilling the dough is very important.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Bake 10-12 minutes. They should smell really hazelnutty and look like tiny little cookies without being burnt. Remove from oven and let them cool about 15 minutes. (Do not touch until cool or they may crumble.) Turn oven down to 200F.
- Flip half the cookies over. Add a Wilbur Bud chocolate to one side of the cookie. Repeat until half of the flipped over cookies have chocolate on them. Return to 200F degree oven for another ~3-5 minutes just until the chocolate gets soft. Sandwich the other cookie on top.
- Let them cool again.