Baci di Dama have been a family favourite for years. Baci di dama translates from the Italian to ‘ladies’ kisses’ and these gorgeous little biscuits are a kiss of sweet delight with a cappuccino or espresso (though if you’re not into coffee, then tea works well too). I’ve always bought them from Carluccio’s Caffè and they sit by my Nespresso machine to have as a little treat, usually with an afternoon or evening espresso. It never occurred to me to make my own until I saw them in a cookbook I was browsing through in WH Smith a few days ago.
I’ve got a couple of Gino D’Acampo’s books. His name may not carry the same foodie weight as someone like Giorgio Locatelli, but actually I find his recipes work well and they’re simple and straightforward. I found his pizza dough recipe far superior to the Paul Hollywood one I tried – but then Gino does come from Naples! As I browsed through his A Taste of the Sun, I found lots of recipes I felt I’d like to try. And anyway, it was in WH Smith’s cookbook sale at only £5 so how could I resist!
One thing that momentarily held me back was his use of Nutella. I love most things Italian but I really cannot understand their devotion to Nutella! It’s really pretty awful stuff if you read the ingredients. And now I’ve been spoilt by a very upmarket and superior version of hazelnut chocolate spread that I’ve bought in one of Turin’s famous caffès – Baratti & Milano.
So … I went in search … I’ve done this before without much luck (although Carluccio’s had a great version I put in some gelato at Eastertime, but then they didn’t stock it again). I found (almost) what I was looking for in my local M&S Simply Food.
It contains 40% hazelnuts (Nutella contains only about 13%) and the list was pretty similar to my gorgeous Turin version. I also went in search of some Italian ’00’ flour, used for baking and pasta making. I found this in Corto Italian Deli.
Back home I already had ground almonds, butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract. I was ready to go.
Baci di Dama (makes 10)
- 120g butter, softened
- 120g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 120g ground almonds
- 120g ’00’ flour
- 10 teaspoons chocolate hazelnut spread
First of all put the butter (soft, not straight from the fridge) into a bowl with the sugar. Beat until pale, light and fluffy. Then add the vanilla extract and beat again.
Add the ground almonds and flour to the bowl and mix (not with the electric mixer) together with a wooden spoon or spatula until it all comes together into a ball of firm dough.
Now, with floured hands, divide into 4; then each piece into 5 – so that you have 20 pieces in the end. I did actually weigh my dough and then weigh out each little piece (clearly in a perfectionist mood!). Roll each little piece gently into a ball and then place on a baking sheet covered with some baking parchment. Gently press down a little on top to flatten (I forgot this step!).
Put into a preheated oven at 180C/160 Fan/Gas 4 for 15 minutes or until nicely golden brown.
Remove from the oven and gently lift with a palette knife onto a rack to cool. They’re quite fragile while warm so try to touch them as little as possible.
Once completely cold, sandwich together with a teaspoon of the chocolate hazelnut spread.
They were bigger than the ones I’ve always bought – but then I won’t be tempted to feeling I have to have a second. I couldn’t resist trying one immediately – well, I had to know how they’d worked out! Were they as good as they looked? Yes they were! Wow! Wonderful – ‘fantastico‘ as Gino would say. They were a bit different to the ones I’ve been buying but actually, I thought, nicer. With all those ground almonds in the dough mix, they’re slightly chewy inside – and really, really delicious. The chocolate spread is way better than Nutella … though not as good as my Baratti & Milano one. I clearly need to go to Turin again! Meanwhile, these gorgeous little baci di dama are fabulous, easy to make, and I think would make a lovely foodie present for friends at Christmas.