France is often on my mind, but even more so lately given recent events. One of my favourite French traditions (although not exclusive to France) is cheek kissing. In Paris, no hello or goodbye is complete without a kiss or bisou on each cheek—first on the left, then on the right. Faire la bise is an intimate gesture, a deeply engrained ritual practised daily in homes and on streets with little regard for age, gender, class or ethnicity. In many ways these little Italian cookies are the physical manifestation of the double bisou: two feather-light kisses filled with a touch of sweetness.
Happy 2015, friends. Here’s wishing you peace, health and happiness in your corner of the world.
The Casual Baker
- 100 g natural unsalted almonds, toasted
- 100 g salted butter, cubed and chilled
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g semi-sweet chocolate
- Preheat your oven to 180 °C (350 °F). Measure out the natural unsalted almonds onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast until golden and fragrant (about 7–10 minutes).
- Once the toasted almonds are completely cool, pulse them in a food processor until they resemble coarse sand.
- Add the flour, sugar and butter. Pulse just until the ingredients start to form a dough.
- Working quickly, remove the mixture from the processor and divide the dough into four equal parts.
- Roll each piece of dough into a log that measures roughly 20 cm (8"). Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm.
- Once the dough is chilled, cut each log into 11 equal pieces. Each one will weigh 8–9 g (0.3 oz).
- Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and place them all on a parchment-lined surface. Chill until firm.
- Preheat your oven to 150 °C (300 °F).
- Transfer the chilled balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving room for each cookie to spread slightly. Fifteen cookies on a standard baking sheet works well.
- Bake until the cookies flatten into domes and the tops appear dry. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cookies cool completely, untouched, before transferring them to a wire rack.
- Coarsely chop the semi-sweet chocolate and melt it slowly over low heat in the top of a double boiler.
- Remove the chocolate from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes before filling the cookies.
- Spoon a small amount of melted chocolate into the centre of one cookie and top with another. Continue in the same way until all of the cookies are gone.
- Let the chocolate set before serving them. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.