I don’t know about you, but when I sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, I want a little nibble to go with it. When you’re ordering an espresso in Italy, it’s easy to find bars that offer a selection of miniature goodies including these little cookie nuggets called baci di dama – or ladies’ kisses.
I don’t need a humongous slice of layer cake slathered with frosting. Just give me a few little cookies to satisfy my sweet tooth. Look at this photo with a plate of small cookies including baci di dama , resting next to two cups of macchiati (plural of macchiato, which is an espresso with a touch of steamed milk. Macchiato literally means stained in Italian). One reason you gotta love Italy is for the coffee. Aside from the quality, which puts Starbucks and most other U.S. coffee joints to shame, the price is so reasonable.
You can see from this photo we paid only 3 euros and 60 cents for two outstanding macchiati . That would have been about $5.00 U.S. Plus they brought us a couple of glasses of water and a small plate of delicious little cookies, including baci di dama, for free. Oh yes, and a little extra warmed milk if we needed it. How civilized!
Now, truth be told, in Italy it’s not typical to get such a nice dish of cookies for free at your local neighborhood bar. The photo was taken in the cafe of the castello in Ferrara. But baci di dama can be found in many bars and bakeries all over Italy.
I was long overdue making baci di dama myself, so I started out by searching the web and came up with this recipe from Epicurious.com. But after reading some of the reviews from people who had used the recipe, I decided to make some adjustments, including the addition of baking powder, more butter and more hazelnuts.
The cookies should be a little more spherical than mine, but part of the problem was that I rolled the dough into balls that I thought were small enough, but really weren’t. They spread a little and they’re fine that way, but if you make them smaller – more like the size of a large marble – you’ll get a cookie that is closer to the authentic baci di dama you find in Italy.
Baci Di Dama
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets with butter or line with parchment paper.
Put nuts into food processor with confectioner’s sugar and pulse until finely ground. Don’t let it become a paste.
Place the softened butter, zest, salt, and nut mixture in a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Add flour, and baking powder, stirring until mixed.
Form little balls the size of marbles (I made mine bigger but they get a more rounded appearance if they’re smaller.) Place on greased baking sheets and bake, one sheet at a time, until pale golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool, then spread a little melted chocolate on one half and press a second cookie onto the other side.