Italy produces mouth-watering chocolate of the highest quality, with some of the best coming from the North; Venchi and Gianduja are notable favourites from the Piedmont region. Likewise, take a trip down to the very South to Modica – on the island of Sicily – and you can discover the ancient Aztec tradition of chocolate making.
Whatever your style, chocolate lovers are spoilt for choice: creamy, silky, milk chocolate from Perugia, nutty, more bitter chocolate from Piedmont, bitter dark chocolate from Sicily or perhaps the best hot chocolate in the world at Guido Gobino from Torino. As if that’s not enough, there are the wonderful hazelnut and chocolate spreads, up-market Nutella if you like, to be spread on literally anything; bread, toast, cakes or sandwiching together the delicious almond biscuits called Baci di Dama or ladies’ kisses – perfect for an exquisite, sweet chocolatey treat.
One of my favourite recipes is from the wonderful Carla Tomasi who uses dark chocolate to sandwich her Baci di Dama. Dark chocolate or Venchi’s hazelnut chocolate spread – it’s up to you!
Ladies’ kisses, the real ones from Tortona, are so delicious that one always wants more, hence their name. Whatever the story behind it they are so delectable that it is impossible to have just one, two or three.
Baci di dama consist of two little round nutty biscuits sandwiched together with dark chocolate. They may be made with plain or roasted nuts there will be a marked difference in flavour. The traditional recipe calls for almonds, but I prefer them with hazelnuts. The quantities below make a lot of biscuits. They keep well – so why not?
Oven temperature 180c.
Place the nuts of your choice and the icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and whizz it all up to quite a fine powder.
Cream the butter with the zest, salt and the nut mixture. Gently fold in the flour and then pat into a neat ball. Break off tiny pieces and roll to the size of a small cherry. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly to roll add a little soft butter. Place on trays lined with non-stick greaseproof paper. Bake for 15 minutes but check after 10. Biscuits made with roasted nuts will be darker. Place on a rack to cool and sandwich them with a little melted and cooled chocolate. If you make lots do not sandwich them all at once. They store better without the filling.
Copyright Carla Tomasi
Like the sound of our Baci di Dama and looking for more delicious Italian desserts? Check out our panna cotta recipe.