Dolce Italiano: Chocolate Kisses
When Sara of MsAdventures in Italy asked me if I wanted to participate in a blog event created around the cookbook Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma, I immediately answered yes and I am very happy I did. Not only am I doing this event together with four really nice and talented food bloggers like Sara, Shelly of At Home in Rome, Jenn of The Left Over Queen and Michelle of bleeding espresso but I also discovered a cookbook I honestly don’t think I would have bought on my own. I got this cookbook for free just so that you know it but I can’t help it, I love it just as if I had paid for it myself! It is really very good and it was well worth waiting for. The same day I got it, I spent a wonderful afternoon in my kitchen, drinking tea, reading the introductions and deciding on which recipes I was going to post. And that wasn’t easy until I realized that I actually have the rest of my life to bake myself through the book so I could choose whatever I wanted, it wasn’t a life or death decision after all.
If you don’t know already it, Gina De Palma has worked as an executive pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo restaurant ever since its start and she has a sincere love for Italian food, it was a pleasure for me to read her introduction as I felt that we share the same love for genuine food made with quality products. If I were you I would steer over to At Home in Rome and read the interview with her in three parts!
OK, this is the way this thing is going to work, for two weeks, starting yesterday over at Sara’s, we will post two recipes each from Gina’s book, one each week so in total you will be able to see and savour ten recipes from it. I’m posting one today and the second one next Tuesday. Tomorrow it’s Michelle’s turn so you better visit bleeding espresso to see what she has chosen! (I know but I’m not going to tell you)
But I am almost forgetting the best part, you can win a signed copy of Dolce Italiano! All you have to do is to submit comments on our posts to participate in the final draw, and if you comment on all 10 of the posts, you have ten chances to win the book, every commented post counts as a ticket so to speak. Am I clear enough? If not check out Shelley’s post about the contest!
My first recipe is the chocolate cookies you see in the photos. I made them Sunday afternoon and yesterday they were all gone, I think that speaks for itself, they are absolutely delicious. I’m posting the recipe with the metric conversions that I used. I made the cookies all by hand without any problems.
CHOCOLATE KISSES or BACI ALLA CIOCCOLATA (from Gina De Palma’s Dolce Italiano)
Makes 2 1/2 dozen sandwiches and 5 dozen single cookies.
For the cookies:
118 ml/0.5 cup whole blanched almonds
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
355 ml/1.5 cups plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
88 ml/ 0.33 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
227 g/1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
237 ml/1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
For the ganache filling:
227 g/8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
177 ml/0.75 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dark rum, grappa, cognac, or your favorite liqueur (optional)
To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 163°C/325°F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are light golden brown and fragrant, 14 to 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 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 confectioners’ 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 chill for about 1 hour, until it is firm enough to handle.
Preheat the oven to 163°C/325°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment parer. 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 hall, then roll the balls in granulated sugar to coat them completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1h inch apart. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets 180 degrees to ensure even browning, until they are puffed and cracking slightly on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets far 1 or 2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
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 far 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.
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.