Baci di Dama (Hazelnut Biscuits)

Lynn Clark’s recipe is worth a peek, as she describes the history around these deliciously nutty biscuit sandwiches. Baci di Dama translates from Italian as “ladies’ kisses”.

My version is GF, and uses only hazelnuts; although you could substitute 1/2 skinned, unsalted pistachios if you prefer.

Makes: 24 sandwiched biscuits (48 biscuits)

Ingredients
For the biscuits:

  • 150g unsalted hazelnuts, skinned (see Lynn’s tips for removing skins if you can’t find bare ones)
  • 110g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 170g gluten-free flour
  • 110g golden caster sugar (white will do in a pinch, but golden tastes nicer)

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 100g dark baking chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
  • 50ml double cream (50g if weighing)

Kit

  • 2 baking trays
  • Baking/parchment paper
  • A food processor, coffee bean grinder, or sturdy blender to grind nuts
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • A tablespoon for dough
  • A small saucepan
  • A manual whisk
  • A small, wide bowl

Steps
Making the biscuits:

  1. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Grind the hazelnuts into fine powder. Take care, because grinding too long can result in nut butter – so use pulse settings where possible, and stop just when the nuts are like grainy powder.
  3. Mix all biscuit ingredients together in a large bowl, using your fingers as if rubbing butter into pastry, until fully combined. It’s best not to over-work the dough, so stop when it all seems blended together and you can squidge it into a crumbly ball.
  4. Scoop out some dough (approx 8-9g or 1 level tablespoon) and squidge in one hand, then roll between your palms into a small ball. Sit on the prepared baking tray, and press it down lightly to ensure a flat bottom (to sandwich the pairs together later). Repeat for the rest of the dough, placing 5x3 on each baking tray. Put the trays, and remaining dough, into the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up whilst the oven pre-heats.
  5. Preheat oven to 175 C (160 C fan-assisted).
  6. Bake for 10-11 minutes, turning the trays halfway through for even baking, until they are just starting to tan lightly. Remove the trays from the oven and leave the biscuits to fully cool on the trays (they are very fragile when warm).
  7. Once the biscuits are fully cooled, remove them to a cooling rack. Load up one tray with the remaining dough, chill, and bake.

Making the chocolate ganache:

  1. Bring the cream to the boil on the hob, then immediately remove from the heat.
  2. Add the chocolate pieces and whisk well, until they’re fully melted and the ganache is glossy. Pour into a small, wide bowl, and allow to cool until it’s more paste-like than liquid.

Assembling:

  1. Match biscuits by size to get 24 pairs.
  2. Smear some ganache on the flat side of 1 biscuit, then press its partner against it. Repeat for all pairs.

Alternate Presentation
Just for fun, I thought I’d make some larger biscuits (15-16g) and try to decorate the tops with the chocolate ganache. Obviously (from the main recipe pic), I’m not very good at making stripes from a dripping teaspoon – I’d suggest piping for neater lines/designs – but this works perfectly well (albeit not traditional at all). For larger biscuits, let them bake around 13-14 minutes.

Storage
These biscuits will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.

Colours
If you have gel food colouring, you can really be creative with these baci di dama. It won’t be traditional, but colourful is always cheering. Add your favourite colour to the dough in Step 3, or, split the dough into as many bowls as you have colours, and add them separately.

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