Sunday, April 12, 2009

Baci di dama, or chocolate-filled hazelnut cookies

When I was 16, my Sweet Sixteen present from my parents was a trip to Belgium and Holland.

During the day, I wandered around Antwerpen by myself as my father had business to conduct. Sure enough, this meant drinking lots of coffee at outside cafes.

I was pleased to discover there a small sweet treat always accompanied my coffee - perhaps a chocolate square, or a buttery cookie.

And so when I saw a recipe for the hazelnut-based, chocolate-filled cookies, or baci di dama (which means lady's kisses) in a Gourmet issue from 2004, I ripped it out with the intention I'd make it to serve alongside espresso. And it stayed in my recipe folder ever since this weekend.

You can find the same recipe at this Epicurious link if you are so inclined. Unlike the use of the more traditional almonds, however, this recipe uses hazelnuts, which I much prefer.

My substitutions:
Rather than dark chocolate, I used semi-sweet chocolate. I suspect dark would have been a more suitable complement to espresso. But seeing as how I prefer to drink decaf lattes these days as an expectant mother, I thought semi-sweet would work just fine.
Would I make this again?
An emphatic no. Why? Because there are no eggs or binding agents and so making the marbles of dough took me hours. Every time I made the perfect-sized marble, it crumbled in my hand and I had to start over. Is it worth the trouble? I'm not convinced. At the same time, however, I still have a batch sitting in a Tupperware container waiting for me to inhale them. When there are only crumbs left, I may be singing another tune.
Grade:
Three stars out of five. These are elegant, delicious, subtle in flavour, but extremely time-consuming for the low yield. I covered two baking sheets with the marbles of dough, and had more for another half a sheet, but by that time my back was aching from sitting in the same place for hours. This amounted to about 30 cookies total. And they're tiny, so the end result isn't that impressive in terms of quantity.

Unless you have the patience of a saint, or some time-honoured trick to making these cookies quickly, then you'll want to pass on this one. Better yet, cut the ingredients in half and make a smaller batch. They'll finish quickly though. These hazelnut-flavoured bites are scrumptious.

1 comment:

Ryan Kay said...

This looks so so good!