Baci di Dama are delicious Italian cookies with a crumbly texture that melts in your mouth.
They are small dome-shaped cookies made of butter and almonds – or hazelnuts – joined together with dark chocolate.
The shape of the two touching hemispheres is a resemblance of a woman’s lips ready for a kiss. Hence the romantic name: lady’s kisses!
They are traditional to Piedmontese confectionery. In fact, this exquisite and refined Italian pastry was born in the 19th century in the Piedmontese city of Tortona.
They used to make them with hazelnuts, which were abundant in Piedmont and therefore cheap. That’s why some people still call them “Italian Hazelnut Cookies”. Later a more popular version, made with almonds, spread throughout Italy. This version of Baci di Dama recipe, made with chopped almonds, is the most common one in Italy nowadays.
This is a fairly easy preparation, very similar to the Pasta Frolla recipe. For a perfect result, it’s essential to respect the cooling and baking times.
Baci di Dama are perfect for tea time. You can serve them when your guests arrive as a welcome, along with steaming tea or coffee. They are also perfect to wrap and gift, for example for Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
Follow our step-by-step recipe and you will make Baci di Dama cookies as perfect as those bought in the best pastry shops in Piedmont!
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How to Make Baci di Dama Cookies Recipe
- Prep Time: 20 Min + at least 2 hour in the fridge
- Cook Time: 15 Min
- Servings: About 40 Baci di Dama Cookies
Baci di Dama Ingredients
- This Baci di Dama recipe is made with chopped almonds, which is the most popular version in Italy today. This does not exclude that you can use chopped hazelnuts as well. The recipe does not change.
- You can even use almond flour (or hazelnut flour) instead of chopped almonds/hazelnuts. Beware, however, that you are going to lose the roasted almond/hazelnut aroma, typical of these Italian cookies.
- 150 g (1 1/2 cups) of “00” flour
- 150 g (1 1/2 cup ) of granulated sugar
- 150 g (1/2 cup) of unsalted cold butter
- 150 g (5,3 oz) of whole almonds (alternatively whole hazelnuts)
- 100 g (3,5 oz) of dark chocolate for the filling
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
To make Italian Baci di Dama cookies we opted for an electric stand mixer which is really a great help to make the best lady kisses recipe. We recommend KitchenAid, but there are other really great brands.
You need an electric food processor for this recipe to grind the almonds.
You have to toast the almonds in the oven and then bake the cookies, well spaced apart. So we recommend that you use a baking sheet.
Finally, you’ll melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.
Step 1) – Arrange the almonds on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Toast them at 180° C (350 F) for about 10 minutes.
Be careful, they should not toast so much that they become brown, but only lightly golden, otherwise they turn out bitter. Let them cool completely.
Step 2) – Now transfer the almonds, along with half the granulated sugar, to a bowl.
Grind them at full speed but in pulses, to prevent the almonds from releasing too much oil. You should get a fine, homogeneous flour.
Step 3) – Transfer the chopped almonds to the bowl of your standing mixer. Then add the flour, cold cubed butter and the remaining sugar.
Insert the K-hook and knead the mixture at low speed until the dough is smooth.
Step 4) – Form a loaf and cover in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After this time, remove the dough from the refrigerator and, with your hands, form small balls about 1 cm in diameter (about 1/2 inch).
It’s essential that the balls are ALL THE SAME SIZE and small. About 4 g in weight each (0.14 oz). The balls should be round and not squashed, otherwise they will flatten a lot during baking.
Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper about 2 cm (about 1 inch) apart.
Step 5) – Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 170° C (338 F) for 15 minutes. At the end, the cookies should be just golden and clear, but not browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. DO NOT TOUCH THEM at this step because thy are still soft. They will solidify as they cool.
Prepare the Chocolate Filling
Step 6) – Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Let it cool a little so that it’s not too liquid but firm enough.
Step 7) – With a teaspoon, scoop out a small amount of chocolate and lay it on top of a cookie, on the flat side. Now stack another cookie on top and let the chocolate solidify, which serve as a “glue” between the two cookies.
Your Italian Baci di Dama cookies are ready! Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, they are a sweet treat for any time of the day.
How to Store Baci di Dama
You can keep Baci di Dama in a tin box or in a glass jar with lid for about a week, in a cool and dry place.
We don’t recommend to freeze Baci di Dama Cookies. Freeze just the dough balls while still raw and then bake them in the oven without thawing.
Italian Hazelnut Cookies
As mentioned, Baci di Dama were initially made with chopped hazelnuts. In fact, Piedmont, the Italian region where they were created, is rich in this fruit.
Today, the Piedmont Hazelnut PGI is particularly valued for its nutritional, olfactory and taste qualities all over the world. Just consider, it’s the main ingredient in gianduiotto, the typical Piedmontese chocolate!
If you want to make these amzing Italian hazelnut cookies, all you need to do is replace the almonds with whole hazelnuts and follow the recipe for baci di dama step by step.
Dark Chocolate Lady Kisses (Baci di Dama al Cioccolato)
This same recipe can be made in the chocolate variant.
You need to replace 40 g (1.40 oz) of flour with 40 g (1.4 oz) of unsweetened cocoa powder. Follow the recipe for baci di dama as described above.
You will make truly amazing dark chocolate filled almond cookies, Baci di Dama al Cioccolato!
Filling Variations: Baci di Dama Cookies with White Chocolate
The authentic recipe for Baci di Dama cookies calls for a filling made with melted dark chocolate, but you can also opt for other variations.
If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can opt for white chocolate or a hazelnut cream.
You can also try the version with apricot jam, a really suitable combination with almond shortcrust pastry.
Baci di Dama: Between History and Legend
As is often the case when it comes to traditional recipes, history is mixed with legend.
The history of baci di dama is lost in the halls of the royal palaces of the Savoy family. In fact, a legend says that on a beautiful day in 1852, King Vittorio Emmanuele II asked the court cooks to prepare a new dessert, different in shape and flavor from the usual desserts.
The royal cooks set to work and soon afterwards baked, to the sovereign’s delight, beautiful and delicious cookies that resembled the lips of a girl ready for a kiss.
The delicacy won the sovereign’s approval. From then on, Baci di Dama were ever-present on royal tables in the rest of Italy and Europe.
Actually, baci di dama originated in Tortona, a Piedmontese town in the province of Alessandria.
Originally, the recipe called for the use of Piedmontese hazelnuts, which were easier to find and therefore less expensive.
The traditional recipe was modified by Cavalier Stefano Vercesi who, in the late 1810s, replaced hazelnuts with almonds.
This version was presented at the 1906 Milan International Fair and won the gold medal, the highest award for pastry making at the time.
Since then, Baci di Dama became famous and appreciated all over the world.