As I contemplated cookie recipes to post this month, I kept coming back to one cookie in particular. I found it in the wonderful cookbook, Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, by Gina DePalma. DePalma is the pastry chef at Babbo, chef Mario Battali‘s acclaimed restaurant in New York City. Of note to those of us who live in Seattle, Batali is a Washington State native and his father, Armandino Batali, owns Salumi here in Seattle.
Dolce Italiano is my kind of cookbook. It contains stories with each recipe, either about DePalma’s Italian family or her own experiences as a pastry chef. There are also baking tips throughout. The pictures are gorgeous and they make me want to make each confection.
One of my favorite treats from the book is the Baci di Cioccolato, which translates into Chocolate Kisses. This is an elegant sandwich cookie. The cookie part is a delicate chocolate-almond cookie, while the filling is a ganache flavored with liquor. You can use any liquor you want to (or not use any). I use rum. And I think brandy would be quite nice, too.
These cookies are incredibly decadent. Seriously, as far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with a cookie that has a ganache filling. Of course, they can also be made as single cookies with no ganache. Perfect for something sweet to go with your afternoon tea or as a midnight snack.
These cookies actually are easy to make, but there are several steps. So, give yourself a little time when you make them. And the blanching and roasting of the almonds takes a bit of extra time. You can blanch them yourself, or you can buy almonds that are already blanched.
Chocolate Kisses (or Baci di Cioccolato), Gluten-Free
-adapted from Dolce Italiano
Special Equipment Needed
-stand mixer is always nice, but a hand mixer will do
For the cookies:
1/2 C whole almonds
1 TBL granulated sugar for grinding with the almonds
Extra granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
1 1/2 cups Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher (large-grained) salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 tablespoon rum
For the filling:
8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 C heavy cream
Optional: 2 tsp rum, grappa, or liquor of your choice–I use rum
To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
-blanch the almonds in boiling water for 30 seconds
-strain and remove skins (this is easy–just squeeze the almond and the almond will shoot out of the skin). Discard skins.
-arrange almonds in a single-layer on a small cookie sheet and toast in oven for 14-16 minutes (until light brown and fragrant). Monitor so they don’t burn.
-remove from oven and set aside to cool completely
-turn off oven
-when almonds are cool, grind in food processor with 1 TBL granulated sugar until the are finely chopped
-in a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside
-in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy–for a few minutes
-add the confectioner’s sugar, continue to beat
-add the vanilla and the rum, scraping down the sides of the bowl. For a few seconds it will look like the vanilla and rum aren’t being incorporated into the butter mixer–be patient, they will
-turn mixer to low speed add dry ingredients to butter mixture
-add ground almonds to batter, beat until just incorporated
-scoop out stiff batter onto a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap completely with plastic wrap, and put in refrigerator to firm up, about 1 hour
-once the dough has firmed up, take out about 1/3 of the dough from the refrigerator
-pull off little pieces of the dough and roll them between your hands, making balls a little smaller than ping pong balls
-pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl
-roll in each ball in the granulated sugar until coated and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch between each ball
-bake at 325 degree for 12-16 minutes (I need about 15 mins)
-remove from oven and let cookies cool on sheet–you must let cookies cool before you try to remove from the sheet. If you try to remove them while they’re still warm, they will completely fall apart in your hands. And then you will have crumbs. Delicious crumbs, but crumbs just the same.
-Repeat procedure with the remaining 2/3s of the dough. I get about 60 balls out of the dough, which translates into 60 single cookies or 30 sandwich cookies
While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache:
-pour cream into heavy-bottomed sauce pan and heat until just boiling
-take cream off of heat, add chocolate and butter to pan and whisk until completely melted and smooth
-add rum if using. I often use 1 tsp of rum instead of 2.
-whisk until rum is incorporated
-let ganache sit until it is cool and firm enough to spread without dripping
-take a cookie, spread about 2 tsp ganache on the flat side
-place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the ganache
-press lightly so they hold together
-repeat process for the remainder of the cookies
-you can also serve these without the ganache as single cookies
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