Baci di dama are two tiny domed Italian cookies made from flour, butter, and ground toasted almonds or hazelnuts held together with a delicious filling of dark melted chocolate in the center. This recipe for Italian cookies comes from the Piedmontese cuisine in Northern Italy where hazelnuts and almonds have been a big part of desserts for centuries.
These sandwich cookies are named baci di dama which means “lady’s kisses” in English. Supposedly the name comes from the fact that the two cookies filled with melted chocolate look like delicate kissing lips.
Equipment for Baci di Dama cookies:
From start to finish, rest time included, this well-tested recipe takes about 2 1/2 hours to make, but keep in mind that there are two one-hour periods where the baci di dama cookie dough has to rest or the cookies themselves need to be frozen to help them maintain their shape before baking them.
Prep the almonds or hazelnuts: Toast the whole almonds or hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a preheated oven at 350° F / 180° C for about 10 minutes or until golden or very lightly browned and then remove and let cool (photo 1). You can turn off the oven as you won’t bake the cookies for awhile.
Mix cookie dough in the food processor: Place the cooled almonds or hazelnuts with the powdered sugar and salt in a food processor (photo 3) and pulse until finely ground, you should obtain a fine consistency of ground almonds or ground hazelnuts. Let it cool for a few minutes, leaving it in the food processor. Now add the flour and cold cubed butter straight from the fridge (photo 4).
Mix on high for a minute (photo 5) and then add the egg (photo 6) and mix again for a short period.
he dough should be soft and a little sticky (photo 7). Form a large ball with the dough, move it to a plastic container with a cover or plastic wrap (photo 8), and put it in the freezer for at least one hour, or until it is very hard.
Shape the cookies: Remove the dough from the freezer. Break off small chunks of dough to form 0.5 in / 1-cm little dough balls by rolling them in your hands to make the dough balls as round as possible (photo 9). Use all the remaining dough to make the balls, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at a distance of ~1 in / 3 cm from each other (photo 10). When they are all done, transfer the sheet to the freezer for at least one hour.
Bake the baci di dama cookies: Preheat the oven to 300° F / 150° C. Take the cookies straight from the freezer and put them into the oven and bake at 300° F / 150° C for the first 5 minutes. Then turn down to 250° F /120° C and bake for another 5 minutes. Finally, turn down to 210° F / 100° C and bake for 5-7 minutes. The cookies should be light golden brown but not too dark. Remove from the oven and carefully use a thin, flat spatula to remove from the baking trays and onto a flat cooling rack lined with parchment paper (photo 11). Remove the dome-shaped cookies one by one being very careful not to deform or deflate them, then leave them to cool.
Melt the dark chocolate and fill the baci di dama cookies: While the baked cookies cool, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler (photo 12) stirring occasionally, until completely melted, and then let cool slightly. When the cookies are completely cool, put the warm (but not hot!) chocolate into a pastry bag with a large tip (photo 13). Squeeze a large dollop onto the flat part of one cookie (photo 14), then lightly press the flat part of another cookie on top, creating a kiss (photo 15).
Place the filled cookie sandwich onto a clean baking sheet lined with baking paper and let the chocolate set completely so that they don’t get dirty with chocolate from the other cookies (photo 16).
Serve once the cookies cool completely!
Of course you are going to want to eat some of these delicious cookies right away, but any remaining cookies can be stored for up to one month in an airtight container or cookie tin.
The jury is out on whether the original recipe used hazelnuts or almonds, but luckily they are both delicious and the baci di dama recipe works well with either! All the difference is in the flavor, which is slightly sweeter and more mild with almonds while the hazelnut cookies have a nuttier, deeper flavor. And luckily, the Italian heritage is full of both almond cookies and hazelnut cookies, so enjoy whichever you prefer!