While some people prepare for thanksgiving or celebrate the end of Ramadan here in Germany preparations are starting for Advent, the four weeks before Christmas. Traditionally on the first weekend of December (or like this year last of November) Christmas market start, selling Gluhwein, mulled wine, sweets (Lebkuchen and others), food and possible gift items (pottery, candles and so on). On each of the four weekends families sit at the table eating cake and sweets, especially many sort of cookies baked for the occasion. I decided to give my little contribution this year by baking two Italian cookies: crumiri (more about them in the next post) and baci di dama (Ladies kisses). Baci di dama are probably my favourite cookies: not the "I could eat them every day" kind maybe, but more special "treats". The cookies themselves, two butter-nut biscuits united by a thin dark chocolate layer are quite easy to make.
The basic dough is equal amounts of flour, butter, sugar and fine ground nuts. Usually they're made with almonds but some use hazelnuts. I use the following mix: 1/3 hazelnuts, 2/3 almonds. I find that the delicate almond flavour and the more nutty hazelnuts complement each other nicely. The almond/hazelnut ratio is ideal for my taste: the almond aroma is there without being covered by the hazelnuts.
To make the cookies first I had to grind the almonds and hazelnuts. If you're lucky enough to find ground almonds and hazelnuts you can use those, it will not be as fragrant as with freshly ground ones but saves a lot of work. I was not that lucky, or better forgot to look for these ingredients at my local shop, so had to blanch the almonds (100 grams, 3.5 ounces), toast the hazelnuts(50 grams, 1.7 ounces), peel both and then grind them in my food processor with some sugar to absorb the oils from the nuts. I started beating 150 grams (5.3 ounces) butter till fluffy and then added the ground nuts, a pinch of salt and 130 grams (4.6 oz.) sugar. I reduced the sugar a bit because i prefer cookies (actually sweets in general) no too sweet. Once well mixed I added 150 g. flour, all purpose, and mixed gently till the dough came together. The dough went for 2 hours in the fridge.
Short before shaping the cookies I pre-heated the oven at 160C/320F. The cookies should be shaped into little balls the size of cherries. I wanted to try a bigger size this time, more like a walnut, but that only meant that the cookies needed more time in the oven and expanded more then wanted. As you can see from the pic the finished cookies are not very round, more dome shaped. With a smaller size that happens to a lesser extent. I baked them till the firs ones started to get slightly brown and let them cool. Once cool I just melted some dark chocolate, used it to paste the cookies pair-wise together and let the chocolate harden till the next morning.
All I can say is that after three days there's not a cookie left.... ;-)))