Baci Di Dama (Ladies Kisses)


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As some of you may know, Valentine’s Day fast approaches.  Whilst I usually don’t abide by such commercialised nonsense, I’ve decided to adopt the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mantra this year this year, so will be embracing the day fully, pink hearts and all.

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And let’s be honest, the Perky Pancake is hardly going to miss out on a baking bonanza opportunity.  So Valentine’s Day themed post here we come!

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I toyed with various ideas for today’s post: heart shaped cupcakes, pink cookies, strawberry kisses.  But in the end decided to go for something more sophisticated.  Something slightly less…obvious…

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The result:  Baci Di Dama or Ladies Kisses.  Little crunchy, crumbly, hazelnut biscuits sandwiched together with a rich hazelnut and chocolate praline.  Pure heaven in a mouthful.  And with a a name like “Ladies Kisses” what could be more perfect for Valentine’s day?  Romantic but with no pink food dye in sight.

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As you might spot in the pictures below, greediness won out for me and my cookies were less kisses and more giant smackeroos.  If you halve the volume of dough I used for each cookie you’ll end up with far more elegant portions though (correct proportions included in the recipe below).

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The filling is made of melted dark chocolate mixed with hazelnut butter, either home made or shop bought.  If you’re looking for a shortcut I think a good dollop of Nutella applied to each one would offer a delicious and super easy alternative.

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The good news is that these beauties will keep in an airtight container for 3 days unfilled, and then for a further 3 days once you’ve filled them.  I don’t expect they will last that long but just in case.

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Better news still is that they look beautiful so could be the perfect gift to that special someone this Valentine’s Day.  A surefire way to win over their heart??  Happy Valentine’s Day all!

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This time last year: Giant Chocolate Chunk Cookie
This time 2 years ago: Chinese New Year Almond Cookies
This time 3 years ago:  Dutch Babies

Baci Di Dama

Makes 40 kisses

100g roasted skinless hazelnuts, finely ground
85g ground almonds
165g caster sugar
165g butter, at room temperature
150g plain flour
100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200g hazelnut butter/paste

To make:
  1. Pre heat the oven to 160°c/140°c fan/300°f.  Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
  2. Put the ground almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with paddle attachment or into a bowl to use with a hand held whisk.  Add the butter and sugar and beat on a medium speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides a couple of times.
  3. Add the flour and beat on a low speed for a few more minutes until the dough comes together.  Don’t overbeat it though.
  4. Roll the dough into 80 balls.  If you want to be precise, use a scale and you’re aiming for around 8g per ball.  Alternatively, divide the dough into 8 balls, roll into sausages about 1cm in diameter, refrigerate to firm up, then cut into 10 pieces each, rolling into balls.
  5. Place the balls on the baking tray with enough room in between to allow them to spread slightly.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the tops are slightly cracked but they’re not too brown.
  7. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Meanwhile, make the filling.  Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl over a pot of water on the stove.  Mix in the hazelnut butter until you have a smooth paste.  Leave to cool before transferring to a piping bag.
  9. Once the biscuits are cool and the filling has firmed up a little, pipe the filling onto the bottom of half of the biscuits and then sandwich together with another biscuit.  Pop them in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up before serving or storing.
In advance:

The cookies can be make up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.  The filled cookies can also be stored at room temperature in an air tight container for 3 days.

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