Saturday, August 10, 2013

Italian Chocolate Kisses

I've had these cookies bookmarked for the longest time and like most of my other bookmarked recipes, never got around to making them. Then I finally made them and never got around to posting them. It's a vicious cycle, but finally they make their appearance here on the blog many months after. Unlike the journey behind these cookies, you should make them immediately because they're fantastic and deserve to be made. Not only that, those you share them with will love them and thank you for it. The recipe originally comes from Gina DePalma's Dolce ItalianoI got the recipe from Chez Pim.

The recipe is just a teeny tiny bit time consuming, what with the rolling of the cookie dough, filling, and all, but I assure you it's worth it. Just get someone to help you and it will go twice as fast, right? Whenever you sandwich a cookie with filling, it automatically becomes great, especially when the filling is rich chocolate ganache. These cookies are nutty, moist, and super chocolaty. They're not too sweet and just perfectly crumbly.

My cookies turned out a bit more dome shaped than I wanted which made them a bit harder to eat. Next time, I might make them a bit smaller. Like Pim, I also didn't have any blanched almonds, so I just used regular whole almonds and they turned out fine. I also didn't have any dutch-processed cocoa powder, so I used natural cocoa powder and they turned out a bit lighter in color. With my leftover ganache, I made sandwiches out of some cutout cookies I happened to be making at the same time. I seriously urge you not to wait as long as I did before trying these cookies. Make them and you won't be disappointed.
Baci de Cioccolato (Chocolate Kisses)
Recipe adapted from Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1 tbsp granulated sugar + about 1/4 cup for rolling cookies
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp (190 g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 g) dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk (original recipe calls for rum)

Chocolate Ganache Filling
8 oz (225 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tbsp softened butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp liquor, rum, cognac, etc. (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 deg F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet for 15 min until golden brown. Remove the almonds and turn off the oven. When cooled completely, grind the almonds in a food processor with the tbsp of sugar until finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, a few minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and milk. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and on low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Then add in the ground almonds. Continue beating until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

Cover the dough and refrigerate for an hour until it is firm enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 325 deg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner. Scoop teaspoonfuls of the dough, roll into a ball, roll in the sugar, and line them on a baking sheet with about 2 inches between them. Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The cookies are done when puffed and slightly cracked. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. In a small pot, heat the cream over low heat until it just starts to boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Let stand a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the liquor, if using. Let the ganache cool, whisking occasionally, until it is firm enough to pipe. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag with no tip or a round tip. Pipe mounds of ganache onto the cookies and top with another cookie pressing down gently until the ganache spreads to the sides.

Store cookies in an airtight container up to a week.

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