Thursday, August 12, 2010

[Cookie 086] Baci di Dama


Oh guys, it's taking every ounce of strength in me to not turn this post into a sob story about the best summer ever coming to a close, but I will keep my strength. It is difficult and a little painful. Same goes for these cookies--Baci di Dama. Baci di Dama is italian for "lady's kisses," how apt. Though, let's get real: they look a little bit like poops. Haha sorry, anyone still reading this? Whatever, let's just think of them as the cookie sisters to Hershey's kisses. Unfortunately, the baked incarnation of this phrase is far more tedious and frustrating than actual lady's kisses, but what can you do.


Traditionally, Baci di Dama are made with hazelnuts I believe, but this recipe uses almonds. Once again I used almond meal instead of almonds that I ground up myself, and this time I think I should have ground them myself. The dough was a little too thick, which in part might have been because of how I whipped the egg whites, but also because the almond meal I was using is rather coarse.


Here's a question for all you meringue pros: after whipping the egg whites to stiff, glossy peaks, whenever I add the sugar, the mixture gets very sticky, heavy, and gunky. And as a result, I think my cookies aren't as light and airy as they could be. Remember the Hazelnut Cookies of yore? Same problem. I'd love any advice you guys have to give! Granted, this recipe does specifically state that the batter should be thick and sticky, but I still think I could get the cookies to be a tad lighter in the end.


Alright, so after you make the dough, you pipe it out into a bunch of kisses onto your cookie sheet and baked them. Tedious tedious tedious. But not so bad. Here's the bigger issue: Martha tells you to make the kisses have a little mound, or peak, at the top (like a Hershey's kiss, sorta), but that makes the whole procedure that follows quite difficult. You see, you make this ganache and are supposed to sandwich it between two cookies, but with the peaks--kisses, if you will--it becomes nearly impossible to stand them up in a way that will let the ganache set. If you lay them sideways, the top cookie slides off and the ganache oozes everywhere into a mess. So I tried to wedge the peaks of the cookies between the grates on my cooling rack, but it still sucked. And plus, the ganache really refuses to set unless you refrigerate the cookies, which doesn't really help their texture much in the long run. Not impressed, Martha.


So I managed to make a million or so of these cookies and only had three mental breakdowns in the process. I wouldn't really mind though if the cookies were totally delicious in the end, but they weren't. They just tasted "meh." I'm sure you can buy some really fantastic Baci di Dama in Little Italy or at some Italian bakery somewhere, but this recipe isn't worth all the effort it requires.


I'll just tell it to you straight: I wouldn't recommend making these cookies. They don't really look that gorgeous when complete (even in the picture in the book), they don't really taste that great, and therefore they aren't really worth spending an entire afternoon swearing and sweating. Just hand out some real kisses instead--they'll be appreciated more, by both the receiver and the giver.



Baci di Dama
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen (but I got way way more)

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 6 1/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) medium-finely ground blanched almonds
    • Filling
  • 1/2 teaspoon solid vegetable shortening
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Make cookies: Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high until egg whites form stiff peaks. Add the sugar slowly; continue beating until egg whites are very thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in cocoa until combined. Stir in almonds; mix until completely blended. Batter should be quite thick and sticky.
  • Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (such as Ateco #806). Pipe teaspoon-size, peaked mounds onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake until slightly cracked, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets several minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  • Making filling: In a small bowl, combine shortening and melted chocolate. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate onto flat side of cookie; place another cookie on top. Press together gently so chocolate oozes out slightly. Return cookie to wire rack to set; repeat with remaining cookies. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

  • ****
    {End Results}
    Baking Difficultly: 4.5/5
    Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
    Tastiness: 2/5
    Attractiveness: 3/5
    Is it worth it?: No.

    Drink: I think these would go nicely with an espresso, something small to go with their size.
    Song: I Learned the Hard Way -- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Probably the best song that's come out this year.
    Activity: Skip baking these and go give out some of your own lady kisses.


    Barbara E said...

    Love the song.

    Elsa said...

    Uhh I hate when putting so much effort doesn't compensate! :(