Italian Cookies (Baci di Dama)
Italian Cookies (Baci di Dama) are made with two melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut cookies held together with some good dark chocolate. Italian cookies would make an excellent addition to the Christmas cookie platter!
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Hi guys! Marina from Let the Baking Begin blog here! I hope these Italian Cookies will become part of your holiday traditions. They’re so good!
Italian Cookies Recipe (Baci di Dama)
Originating in the northwest region of Italy, these Italian Cookies are filled with tons of roasted hazelnuts. Combined with the dark chocolate, they remind me of Nutella (or this Ferrero Rocher Cake). Their texture is both crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth tender which makes it so hard to stop at just one!
The Italian Cookies are perfect to serve next to a hot cup of strong coffee or espresso in the morning, or as an afternoon treat. The name, Baci di Dama, means “lady’s kisses” since the two halves of the cookies resemble two lips that come together for a kiss.
The secret to Perfect Italian Cookies:
One of the most important things which ensure proper shape and texture of the Italian cookies is to use well-chilled butter. Then, once the cookies are shaped the dough must be chilled once again to prevent melting or spreading in the oven, as well as cracking. The rest of the process is smooth sailing!
Ingredients for the Italian Cookies
- This recipe can be made with both hazelnut and/or almond flour/meal, depending on your preference. Using store-bought hazelnut or almond flour will give a more tender resulting Italian cookie, so feel free to replace whole hazelnuts with the same amount of hazelnut or almond flour (by weight, 240g). I prefer the cookies with little pieces of hazelnuts still felt throughout the cookie though. For this, I pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor or a coffee grinder until mostly flour-like.
- Use only well chilled, unsalted butter for this recipe.
- Scroll to the bottom of the recipe card for the gluten-free version.
How to make the Italian Cookies (Baci di Dama)
- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Add the cubed butter, vanilla extract and beat with a mixer until a dough forms.
- Shape the Italian Cookies by using a small ice cream scoop, or just pinch away about 2 teaspoons of dough, then roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet about 1.5 inches apart. Refrigerate for about 1 hour.
- Then, preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the baking rack in the middle. Bake the cookies for about 17-18 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- In a microwave-safe bowl melt the chocolate chips by heating it in 10-15 second intervals, stirring occasionally, until melted.
- Sandwich two cookie halves with about 1 tsp of chocolate and allow to set for about 30 minutes before serving.
How to Roast and Peel Hazelnuts:
If you aren’t able to find peeled hazelnuts, they peel easily after roasting. The best way to roast hazelnuts is to spread them on a baking sheet and bake @ 325F for about 12-15 minutes, tossing often. Start checking on them from around 10 minutes and remove them when they’re to the desired doneness.
To peel the hazelnuts: remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a ziplock bag and rub them from the outside to remove the skins. Now shake the bag until all skins fall to the bottom. Remove the nuts from the bag leaving the skins behind.
More Christmas Cookies to Try:
- Almond Snowball Cookies – these are melt-in-your-mouth good!
- Cranberry Bliss Bars – not a cookie, but definitely a must for holidays!
- Russian Tea Cakes – crumbly, buttery and irresistible
- Oreshki (Walnut-Shaped) Cookies – traditional Russian cookies
Italian Cookies - Baci di Dama
Italian Cookie Ingredients
Baci di Dama Chocolate Filling
How to Make Italian Cookies
- Line 2 baking sheet pans with parchment paper, set aside. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor or a coffee grinder until mostly flour-like with some pieces that still retain texture.
- In a large mixer bowl whisk together ground hazelnuts, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the cold cubed butter, vanilla extract and mix until a dough forms with no visible butter chunks.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, portion the dough into about 2 teaspoon chunks, then roll each one into a ball. You'll get about 40 dough balls. Set Italian cookies onto the prepared baking sheet about 1.5 inches apart. Slightly tap on top of each hazelnut cookie ball to flatten. See *recipe notes* for how to shape and bake smaller sized cookies.
- Chill cookies in the fridge for 1 hour. About 45 minutes into it, preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the baking rack in the middle. Bake cookies for about 17 to 18 minutes, or until just starting to brown on top. Remove from oven and cool completely.
How to Assemble Italian Cookies
- In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips in 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring occasionally until the chocolate chips have melted half way (about 2 minutes). Then, continue stirring until the rest of them have melted completely.
- Spread 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the bottom half of the cookies. Cover with the other half and press to adhere. Allow to sit undisturbed until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.
To Make Gluten Free Italian Cookies:Replace the all-purpose flour (1 cup) and the cornstarch (4 Tbsp) with the same amount of rice flour (1 cup 4 tbsp).
Whole Hazelnut Substitution:Start out with 2 cups of whole hazelnuts and grind them yourself, or replace whole hazelnuts with the same amount by weight (240 g) of hazelnut or even almond flour.
To make smaller Baci di Dama:Cut the dough into 8 pieces and refrigerate. Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out to about 10-inch long rope, next cut it into about 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a marble sized ball. Reduce baking time to about 10 minutes. Fill with only about 1/2 a tsp or less of chocolate.
Nutrition Per Serving
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen
Aside from being amazingly good any time of the year, these Italian Cookies are always a hit at holiday cookie exchanges or cookie platters.
What is your favorite holiday cookie?