According to the legend, Italian Baci di dama cookies (or Lady’s Kisses) were created at the end of the nineteenth century, in Tortona, romantic town of Piedmont Region (Northern Italy), famous for its PGI hazelnuts, from the imagination of a cook who worked for the Savoy Royal family.
Writings tell us that, in November 1852, on a cold evening, King Vittorio Emanuele II, eager to enjoy a different kind of sweet, invited the cook to prepare a new recipe. With the ingredients at his disposal (almonds, hazelnuts, butter, chocolate and sugar), the cook created some small, delicious and fragrant butter cookies, since always present on the tables of Royal Houses of Europe. The name comes from the shape of the dessert that, combined with a layer of dark chocolate, recall the kiss of a lady.
The recipe is secret but by following a few small steps, you can enjoy these delicious desserts, waiting to taste true Baci di dama in one of your next trip to Italy.
My recipe, made with brown rice flour, is gluten free but you can replace with whole wheat flour or other high quality unrefined flour.
Italian Baci di dama cookies: Ingredients
Serves: 30 cookies
150 g (5 oz) toasted hazelnuts (or almonds), chopped
100 g (3½ oz) light brown sugar
150 g (5 oz) unsalted butter, softned
150 g (5 oz) brown rice flour (or whole wheat flour)
1 tsp organic “Bourbon” vanilla powder
Pinch of sea salt
80 g (3 oz) dark chocolate
Italian Baci di dama cookies: Method
- Blend the hazelnuts (or almonds) in a food processor with the sugar.
- In a bowl, add the softened butter, cut into pieces, flour, chopped hazelnuts and mix.
- Add the vanilla powder, salt and knead until you have a compact dough.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator for one hour.
- Once the dough has hardened, taken small portions (the size of a walnut) and roll into small balls.
- Arrange the balls on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Put the balls again in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes. Bake and cook in the oven at 180°C (350°F/ gas 4) for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
- When the cookies are cooked, let cool. Using a spoon, place the melted chocolate (cooled down enough to make it thick) on the flat side of the cookie and cover with another cookie.