Today is National Kissing Day and what better way to mark this amorous event than with some tasty Baci Di Uomo. Howard Middleton, from The Great British Bake Off, has taken the classic Italian baci di dama (lady’s kisses), and added a little espresso, a salted caramel filling and tiny dark chocolate moustaches to make ‘a man’s kiss.’ They’re even gluten-free so can be enjoyed by anyone at any time of day.
Image copyright Howard Middleton, 2015
For the biscuits
50g chopped almonds
50g roasted chopped hazelnuts
1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
100g rice flour
75g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
For the salted caramel
50g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
50ml double cream
a generous pinch of sea salt
(ideally fleur de sel) to taste
25g dark chocolate
1 – Begin by making the biscuits. Grind the almonds and hazelnuts in a nut grinder or food processor – you want them fairly finely ground but a few larger specks won’t hurt.
2 – Transfer the nuts to a large mixing bowl, along with the espresso powder, rice flour sugar. Add the butter and rub this in as if making pastry. When the butter lumps have disappeared, start to bring the mix together, kneading forcefully until you have a cohesive ball of dough.
3 – Be prepared for the next step to test your patience. Quarter the dough and carefully roll each piece into a smooth cylindrical sausage shape (noting that you want flat vertical ends, not tapering) about 2cm (3/4in) in diameter. You may find that the dough sometimes crumbles and the cylinders refuse to stay smooth and intact, so it’s a case of firmly coaxing … and sometimes rerolling from scratch.
4 – Place the rolls on a flat board lined with nonstick baking parchment (a small marble slab is perfect) and chill them in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight. (You may now feel ready for a lie down or a warm bath – take it as your opportunity to chill too.)
5 – Next, preheat the oven to 170ºC/150ºC fan/gas 3–4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
6 – With a sharp knife, cut the dough rolls into equal slices, about 1cm (1/2in) thick, and then gently roll each piece into a ball and place on the
lined baking sheets.
7 – Bake for 12–15 minutes until light golden brown. Leave the biscuits to cool completely, then store in an airtight tin until you’re ready to fill them.
8 – To make the salted caramel filling, put the butter and sugar in a small heavy-based pan over a medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth, dark caramel. It will go through several worrying stages, including sandy sludge and split sauce,
but have patience and keep stirring. When the caramel is finally smooth and sufficiently dark for your taste, add the cream and stir like crazy. Take off the heat, stir in the salt and leave to cool.
9 – Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water), then spoon this into a disposable piping bag and snip the end so it has an opening of no more than 2mm (1/16in).
10 – To assemble, sandwich the biscuits together with a little of the salted caramel, then pipe chocolate moustaches on their upper lips. Store in an airtight tin to keep them crisp. They’ll soften over time but will last about 5 days – if there’s no one in the house.