16 January, 2013

Baci Di Dama

Baci di Dama are an Italian cookie, otherwise known as ladie's kisses.  They are a super cute little hazelnut cookie.
 I like them because they are not overly sweet, and I enjoy eating them for breakfast with coffee (real healthy right?) And for a lot of snacks throughout the day.  

They are addicting, I must warn you. 
And did I mention they are gluten free?
I'm always pleased to find cookie recipes that are gluten-free.  I don't have a gluten allergy, but The Step-dad does, and I'm always looking for recipes I can serve when he's around.

It's not just about being able to serve him good food.

It's about serving good food while no one even notices that it's all gluten free.  

That's the challenge. 
These little bites of heaven stand up to that challenge.  They are soft and crumbly, slightly sweet and nutty.

This is a simple recipe.  Easy, limited ingredients.  And the perfect small sized cookie that you can pop in your mouth in one bite.  And eat for breakfast, midmorning snack, mid afternoon snack, pre dinner snack, after dinner snack.  :)

Alternatively to sandwiching the cookies, you could just dip half in chocolate if you so desired. 

Baci di Dama 
1 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup rice flour (can sub 1 cup all purpose flour, but note cookies will not be gluten free)
3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor until very fine- should be the consistency of coarse polenta.  Pour into a large bowl and add the rice flour.  Mix and add the butter.  Use your hands to mix together.  Don't be afraid to squish the dough with your hands so the butter holds the flour together. The dough will be smooth and hold together.  If it doesn't, knead until it does.

The dough will still be a bit crumbly and a little hard to handle.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about an inch thick.  Try to make the rope smooth, no cracks.  If it's too difficult to handle, Divide the rope in half again, making 6 one inch thick ropes.  Wrap each rope in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove one log from the fridge.  Do not remove all of them, you need them to be cold to be easy to handle and to cook properly.  (Letting the sit at room temp allows butter to soften to much- the cookie will cook into a flat pancake shape versus the half round shape in the pictures).

Use a knife to cut a small sliver of dough.  Press into a ball about the size of a marble. You can try rolling the dough into a marble, but I found dough too crumbly.  Pressing it worked better for me.
Continue pressing dough into same size marbles and place on baking sheet about an inch apart.  When done with that log, remove next log from fridge and continue.

Bake 10-14 minutes, until tops of cookies are lightly golden. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through baking for even cooking.   Let cookies cool completely.
In a skillet, add water until one inch deep.  Bring water to a simmer. Place a heat safe bowl in the skillet, and add the chocolate.  Melt until smooth.  Use a butter knife to gather a little melted chocolate and place on the bottom of one cookie.  Take another cookie and sandwich them together.  
If you're having a hard time keeping the chocolate from drizzling all over the cookie, try dunking one cookie in the chocolate, just until the base is coated, and then sandwiching them together.  Start the process with any unattractive cookies (any that may have melted into pancakes).  No use wasted you're prettiest cookies trying to figure out how to control chocolate drizzle :)

Set the cookies sideways on a wire rack and let the chocolate harden until firm.

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