Okay, I have a confession. I’m kind of obsessed with this new cookbook~ Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma.
I don’t usually spend too much time making Italian desserts as a general rule, but some of the recipes in this book I thought were really interesting.
Last week I went a little crazy at Borders Bookstore. They are closing all their stores which makes me very sad as the bookstore is very close to my house and I normally spend a lot of time there. I went a little hog wild buying cookbooks. Quite a few recipes in the book have caught my eye and this little cookie sounded like fun to make. I also like the fact that the cookie is sandwiched with chocolate ganache. I lot of times when I make ganache I have some left over and I usually throw it in the refrigerator; so this is a great way to use up any leftover ganache.
Chocolate Kisses “Baci di Cioccolato”
(recipe from Dolce Italiano) by Gina De Palma
1/2 C whole blanched almonds [Suzie tip: Trader Joe’s has blanched almonds that are already toasted and that’s what I used; saves time so you don’t have to toast]
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 Cups plus 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 C unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter; softened
1 Cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. dark rum (oh yeah)
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C heavy cream
2 tsp. dark rum, grappa, cognac or your favorite liqueur (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325º . Spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are light golden brown and fragrant, 14-16 minutes. Remove the almonds from the oven and turn off the oven until you are ready to form the cookies. Allow the almonds to cool completely, then grind them in a food processor with the 1 tablespoon of sugar until they are finely chopped.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and confectioner’s sugar on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract and rum and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low-speed, beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the ground almonds. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and cill for about 1 hour, until it is firm enough to handle.
Prepare to Bake: Line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or a Silpat liner. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the others wrapped and refrigerated. Roll 1 portion of dough into a small log about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut each log into 1/2 inch lengths and roll each piece into a ball, then roll the balls in granulated sugar to coat them completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets spaced 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
Bake: Bake the cookies at 325º rotating the sheets 180 degrees to ensure even browning, until they are puffed and cracking slightly on top, about 12-15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 1-2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ganache: While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache filling: Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil and pour it over the chocolate and butter. Allow the mixture to sit for a few moments, then whisk until smooth and glossy. Whisk in the rum, if you like. Allow the ganache to cool, whisking it occasionally, until it is firm enough to pipe.
Kiss Assembly: To assemble the kisses: pair up the cookies according to size. Turn one cookie upside down and, using a pastry bag fitted with a plain or star tip, pipe a small amount of ganache onto the flat side, then place the bottom of the second cookie on the ganache to form a sandwich; the two round tops of the cookies should be facing outward. Repeat until all the cookies have been used. Allow the ganache to firm up, at room temperature or in the refrigerator if necessary, then transfer the kisses to a serving plate.
The cookies can be stored, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight container kept in a cool place for up to 3 days.