Rafa and ladies’ kisses

You’ve possibly noticed my books tend to make regular mention of food – in particular, tasty cuisine from different parts of the world.

In Haze, there’s a scene in which Rafa is telling Gaby a story about their childhood and it involves sneaking into the kitchen at the Sanctuary to steal Italian biscuits known as baci di dama (ladies’ kisses).

So, as an excuse to write a post with ‘Rafa’ and ‘ladies’ kisses’ in the search terms, here’s the recipe (from Gourmet Traveller) and photos of my first attempt over the weekend to make them (great suggestion Heather Scott).

I took a slight cheat’s option and used Italian-made hazelnut spread rather than the chocolate filling in this recipe – partly because it was quicker, and partly because I wanted more hazel flavour.

•    105 gm (¾ cup) hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
•    160 gm (1 cup) pure icing sugar
•    125 gm softened butter
•    1 orange, finely grated rind only
•    1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only
•    150 gm(1 cup) plain flour

Chocolate filling (or use hazelnut spread)
•    150 gm dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
•    25 gm butter
•    25 ml pouring cream

•    Preheat oven to 180C. Using a food processor, process hazelnuts and icing sugar until nuts are finely ground.
•    Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter, rind, vanilla seeds, hazelnut mixture and a large pinch of salt until creamy, then add flour, stirring until just combined (do not overmix).
•    Roll half-teaspoon of dough into balls and arrange about 6cm apart on baking paper-lined oven trays. Bake one tray at a time in centre of oven until golden (12-15 minutes), then cool on trays over a wire rack. Repeat with remaining biscuits.
•    For chocolate filling, combine chocolate, butter and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Stir until glossy and smooth, then cool to room temperature.
•    Spread half-teaspoon of chocolate filling onto the flat side of half the biscuits (you may have a little filling left over), then sandwich with remaining biscuits, pressing lightly together to seal. Biscuits will keep in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

And yes, I realise mine look more like ladies poking out their tongues than puckering for a kiss (probably appropriate, given my approach to romance). Here’s what they’re supposed to look like (from Gourmet Traveller):



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