These Italian chocolate cookies are crunchy and irresistible. The sweet souvenir from Liguria is reminiscent of French macarons, with hazelnuts, cocoa and dark chocolate providing a subtle tangy flavour in the Baci di Alassio.
Socks full of surprises
The main ingredient of these cookies is aromatic hazelnuts. They have been cultivated in Liguria since Roman times. And since the Middle Ages, their production has been one of the economic mainstays of the region. Hazelnuts are characteristic of Ligurian cuisine and local traditions. “Dina da noxe”, for example, is the name given to the custom of giving one's loved ones symbolic wealth in the form of hazelnuts, hazelnut bread or sweet nut pastries during the Christmas and New Year period. At one time, such gifts were even considered a bribe. Knights, for example, were forbidden to accept them. But as is often the case in Italy, alternative ways were found: the “nut gift” was simply hidden in socks! To this day, children find sweet delicacies in their socks with money hidden in between.
The original Baci recipe remains a secret, however every Ligurian family is convinced that they possess it. Rinaldo Balzola, the former confectioner of the Royal House of Savoy, is said to have created the cookies. His patisserie in Alassio was a meeting place for high society and artists. Gabriele D'Annunzio or Eleonora Duse also sweetened their day here at times. After the unification of Italy in 1871, the little town also developed into a popular tourist and holiday destination and Balzola came up with the idea of packaging his pastries as souvenirs for holidaymakers to take home with them. In this way, the Baci di Alassio spread throughout Italy and far beyond.
Baci di Alassio – Italian Chocolate Cookies
- 1 baking tray
- 80 g hazelnuts, peeled
- 60 g sugar
- 12 g cocoa, powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon honey, liquid
- 30 g cream , whipped approx. 40 % fat, créme double
- 30 g chocolate, high-quality dark
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, grind finely and mix with the cocoa, salt and sugar.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff. Using a pastry spatula, first fold in the hazelnut mixture and then the honey.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper. Pour the mixture into a piping bag with a medium, star-shaped nozzle and pipe small cookies onto the paper, spacing them out. Bake for 15 minutes at 180°C. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.
- Melt the chocolate over a pan with hot water and leave to cool. Mix with the cream. Take two pastries at a time (bottom to bottom) and use this chocolate ganache to form one pastry.