The simple four-ingredient dough comes together right in the food processor.
Makes about 3 dozen
- 3 1/2 ounces whole blanched hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 1/2 ounces, about 3/4 cups, all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, diced
- 3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them until lightly golden and aromatic, about 7 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and reserve.
Combine the hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a food processor and grind until fine. Add the remaining sugar, sift in the flour, and process until well combined. Add the cold butter and pulse until combined. The batter will be a dense mass. Form the batter into two discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until very hard and cold.
Work with one disc of dough at a time, leaving the other in the refrigerator so it stays cold. Pinch off a teaspoonful of the batter and roll into a small ball, about the size of a hazelnut, a little less than 1/2 inch in diameter. Occasionally flour your hands so the dough doesn’t get too sticky as your hands warm. (The key to nice rounded cookies is a fairly dry dough.) Put the balls onto the prepared baking sheet, with at least 2 inches of space around each ball. Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator while you prepare the second batch. Note: Make an even number of balls, as you’ll need two to make one baci.
Put the dough into the oven and bake for about 13 minutes until just lightly golden. Slide the parchment paper, with the cookies still attached, off the baking sheets and onto a cool surface to stop them from cooking further. Allow them to cool completely before filling.
Meanwhile, put the chocolate into a small bowl and melt it, either in the microwave or over a pot of gently simmering water. Put a dollop of melted chocolate on the flat side, the side that had been touching the baking sheet, of one cookie and then sandwich it by pressing another cookie onto the chocolate. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.
Refrigerate for a few minutes so that the chocolate hardens and the cookies stick, and then serve.
They can be stored in a sealed container, in a dry cool place, for several weeks.
Recipes reprinted with permission from “Dolci: Italy’s Sweets” by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). Photography by Ellen Silverman.