I have decided that I am going to write this baking blog in Italian basically because I have the feeling (probably due to the fact that I have been living abroad for 10 years now) that in Italy there’s not enough knowledge about classic baking (as opposed to “pasticceria”, confectionery).
I have never liked those big cakes with sponges that taste of nothing, with whipped cream and a slight alcoholic taste (those in my head are all cathegorised as “confectionery” cakes). I have always preferred more earthy, rich flavours. That’s why I love muffins, and breads, and cakes, and spices. That’s also why I feel the urge to teach my compatriots to love those flavours, it’s clear that they don’t know what they’re doing!
Now, there are some Italian recipes that I really really like. Those ones I will share with you in English, because go Nutella, and hazelnuts, and crostate, and tiramisu’ (that may be considered a dessert, but I swear I had it at breakfast as well, so it shall be included… It contains coffee, right? So we can file it under “breakfast food”).
This specific recipe comes from my village. Yes, my village! The area around it, in Piedmont, is known for these little shortbread biscuits called Baci di Dama (Ladies’ Kisses). Once, to impress my friends back in Montpellier, I made some to bring over for dessert after the dinner I had been invited to. They were a hit, of course. Dan asked how they were called, I told him. He looked at the bowl full of them, and told me, very serious, with his lovely English accent: “They are delicious, but they kind of look like dog’s bollocks, don’t you think?”.
It’s true, they kind of look like a macaroon gone wrong, but who cares. They are delicious, they are guilt-free (if you make them small enough), and they are perfect to bring over to someone’s place for an afternoon tea, or for dessert.
If I ever open a bakery or try to sell my goods over here, I shall call them Dog’s Bollocks, though. ^_^
Dog’s Bollocks / Baci di Dama
100 g hazelnuts
100 g almonds
200 g butter
200 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
300 g flour
cocoa powder (however much you want)
These little fellas are very easy to make. Only downside? That they take a long time, and longer if you want them small.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Roast the almonds and the hazelnuts until golden brown. Once cooled, grind them to powder.
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl with your hands, until you have a uniform dough.
Usually, I never leave the dough to rest in the fridge, but I suppose you may do that, either before or after shaping them. It takes a long time as it is so I usually skip this step.
Start shaping the dough into little balls (you can make them as big as you feel like, I would say never bigger than a macaroon, but hey, it’s up to you). Put them on a tray lined with a baking sheet leaving enough room for them to
slightly expand once in the oven (the way cookies do, so it’s not necessary to leave too much of it). With your finger, lightly press them down a little so they are almost disc shaped.
Bake them for 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown
Let them rest on the tray a couple of minutes or they will be too crumbly to move. Then, allow them to cool on a rack (this operation may take some time, depending on how big you are shaping your bollocks – ha, ha – and how many trays you have available at the same time. I usually make 3 trays with these quantities)
Once all the biscuits are ready, take two of them that are roughly the same size, put some Nutella (again, I just use a little bit to stick them together, but you can use as much as you want) in between and press them together. Your first Bacio is done! Now just continue until you have finished the biscuits. You are allowed to try some while you prepare them, after all, quality control is important.
Also, your whole house is going to smell like heaven. That’s a big plus to this recipe!