Pistacchio baci di dama

Lady’s kisses – baci di dama – are tiny bite-sized sandwich biscuits. These mini morsels are traditionally made with fresh ground hazelnuts, and originate from the Piedmont area of Italy, where there is an abundance of hazelnut trees and a long history of hazelnut cultivation.

It’s possible that these biscuits were the Piedmont hazelnut alternative to the almond-based amaretti. They are made in pairs sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and area meant to either look like a set of pouting lips puckering up for a kiss or to represent two people kissing.

I have made the classic version before, but here I have substituted 50% of the hazelnuts for pistachios (or pistacchios if you want the correct Italian spelling) to add a slightly different taste and give the biscuits a little green sheen.


Also – you may have noticed! – I’ve had fun playing around with the shapes. Normally, you’d make little rounds only but I’ve gone one step further with a play on their name and made pairs of lips and hearts.

Notes

  • Makes 16 sandwiched biscuits (32 individual biscuit pieces)
  • Please see my additional notes on grinding nuts below

Equipment

  • Bowls – 1 large, 1 medium
  • Large baking tray (or two smaller) lined with baking paper or parchment
  • Small saucepan
  • Tablespoon measuring spoon

Ingredients – biscuits

  • Hazelnuts, ground (see note below) – 50g
  • Pistachios, skins removed and ground (see note below) – 50g
  • Unsalted butter – 72g
  • Plain flour – 100g
  • Caster sugar – 72g
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • and if you have it – a few drops of hazelnut extract

Ingredients – chocolate ganache

  • Good quality chocolate – 100g (use either a high cocoa content milk or a mild dark chocolate – something around 60 – 70% as these biscuits I feel are best without the chocolate being too bitter)
  • Double cream – 50ml

Notes on preparing the ground nuts

  • It’s best to freshly grind your own nuts if you can (and also it can be difficult to get hold of pre-ground hazelnuts and pistachios anyway)
  • To remove the skins, gently roast the nuts on a baking tray at a low heat (about 120C) for 15 minutes. You do not want to brown them, just crisp the skins (although this also adds a nice toasty element and brings out the nuts’ flavours)
  • To remove the skins, put a handful of the toasted nuts at a time in a teatowel and bunch it up then rub furiously together – repeat with all the nuts
  • It doesn’t matter if you leave a few bits of skin – it can give the biscuits a nice speckled look
  • Grind the nuts in a coffee bean grinder or blender but it’s better to pulse on/off and check frequently. Grinding nuts for too long will result in a nut butter (which can be useful for other recipes!) But you don’t want to get to that stage for baci di dama – you need the nuts to be like coarse flour

Method

  1. Turn on your oven to 160C fan or 175C conventional
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the baci biscuits in the large bowl and bring together – you do not need to perform any rubbing in etc. Just make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed then stop (always wise not to over-knead biscuits)
  3. Break off tablespoon-sized amounts of the mixture. In fact, use a tablespoon measure to scoop out the right amount of mixture and then level it off. This ensures your baci are the same size without laborious weighing
  4. Roll each piece between the palms of your hands and then flatten one side so you have a dome
  5. You can leave the baci in this traditional domed form if you prefer
  6. To make kisses and lips take two of the domes at a time (this way ensures you have all pairs and no single biscuit left over)
  7. Shape both pieces of dough into either separate lips or hearts and eye them in together so that they look pretty much the same (so you can match these later when sandwiching them together)
  8. Repeat for all the mixture – making sure you have even numbers of lips, hearts and domes (or whatever combination you’ve chosen)
  9. Bake or about 14 minutes
  10. These biscuits are fragile, especially when warm so leave to cool thoroughly on the baking trays before moving them
  11. To make the ganache
  12. Break up the chocolate into the smaller bowl
  13. Pour the cream into the saucepan and bring it to just boiling over a medium heat (stirring all the time)
  14. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until it is all combined
  15. Leave the ganache to cool
  16. When cool enough, pop in the fridge for 15 minutes
  17. To assemble,lay out matching pairs of baci
  18. Place a scant teaspoon of ganache on the underside of one baci and squash down with its twin
  19. Should keep for a few days in an airtight container – and pop in the fridge if it is warm as otherwise the ganache may start to melt and soften the biscuits
  20. These are better the day after (although that doesn’t mean they’re not nice straight away!)
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6 comments

  1. My regular audience requires GF as some are coeliac sufferers. I’ll make a GF version and of course I’ll credit your lovely recipe (you have such nice details on the tradition/background of these biscuits!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m very flattered xxx and kind of you to credit and mention this here – not many would!

      Good idea for a gluten free version.

      Could I kindly ask that you don’t recreate the design element, of the lips and hearts, as this is unique (I’ve also never seen a pistachio version either, but my designs are my ‘usp’) – is that OK? x

      Like

      • I was planning on making plain domes – I’m not very good at creating shapes with dough! 🙂 I also might try out some of my gel food colouring. … If I use all hazlenuts, is that 100g?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’d be 100g of only hazelnuts – this is the traditional version too! I’m sure you’re much more knowledgeable than me at GF recipes, but I do know that rice flour does feature in some Italian recipes so that might be worth thinking about if you want to keep in with an authentic-ish recipe?? I bow to your better GF experience though! Can’t wait to see it – I’m sure it’ll be lovely! Regards, Lynn x

        Like

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