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Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am crazy for chocolate. Every day around 3:30 in the afternoon I’m on the hunt for chocolate-any kind. It can be the luscious, expensive type or it can be semi-sweet chips out of the bag. I just need to have a little bit and I’m satisfied.

As soon as I saw the recipe for these cookies in Gina De Palma’s Dolce Italiano, I knew that these cookies had my name all over them. I’ve made them a few times now and they are delicious with or without the creamy ganache filling. By the way, the chocolate is delectable warmed and served over ice cream.

I’m invited to pranzo ( lunch) at my Italian tutor’s house this week and I thought these would be perfect to take along. Until then, I’m snacking on them with my morning cappuccino!

Chocolate Kisses (Baci di Cioccolato)

1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the almonds in the oven until they are golden brown and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. When cool grind in food processor with 1 tablespoon sugar until they are finely chopped.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Then add vanilla extract and rum and beat- scrape down the sides of the bowl and on low speed mix in the dry ingredients and then the almonds. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten the dough into a disk and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Roll 1 portion of dough into a small log, about 3/4″ in diameter. Cut log into 1/2″ lengths and form into a balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place on prepared sheets.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, rotating them halfway through. They should be puffed and slightly cracked on top. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Ganache Filling

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan and when it comes to a boil, pour it over the chocolate and the butter. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes, then whisk until it is smooth and glossy. Whisk in the rum. Allow to cool, until it is thick enough to pipe.

To assemble: Pair the cookies up according to size. Use pastry bag or a small knife and spread filling on flat side of cookie and then top with another to form a sandwich. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Yield: 30 sandwich cookies or 5 dozen single cookies.

Photo courtesy of Babbo, although my cookies do look exactly like this! (I’m just too tired to take the photos-sorry…)

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