Pistachio and Chocolate~Orange Baci
“Baci e Abbracci” ~ Wonderful, Italian hugs and kisses. To end a conversation with a loved one (or a lusted after one), baci e abbracci has connotations, just as the English “xxx” does – what does this mean? If he sent an extra kiss, is he too keen? If he sent one less than I sent, is he not interested? Good lord, I am GLAD I’m engaged. Enough of all of that lark. Anyway, when you think of kisses, baci, you can imagine how they might intend to taste. For one thing, they would have to be enjoyable (no one wants that first, tooth-bumping charade to count as any kind of a successful ‘kiss’).
I have decided to put this recipe forward for Tuscany Now’s #TuscanyNowCookOff! Though perhaps it isn’t a traditional baci, I love this Italian delicacy, and I think my take on them is an improvement on the original!! Fingers crossed I might be in the running for a weekend away, or a nice bottle of wine courtesy of Tuscany Now!
Baci have always been my Mum’s little treat. (We all think she likes them, anyway, whether she actually does or not). The commercial Baci, an Italian chocolate/biscuit concoction by Perugina, have never enticed me, personally – Like the infamous Ferrero~Rocher, which only come out at Christmas, I sense my appreciation of these little nuggets may have been marred by the amount of time they have usually spent in the silent darkness of a musty cupboard. Poor Baci – waiting patiently all year long for the sparkly dresses and costume jewellery to come out, signifying their annual voyage to the cut-glass bowl on the coffee table. Imagine the disappointment of those poor little chaps when they realise that this bowl is, in fact, known as the bowl which displays attractive, expensive, yet inedible sweets, and that all of their number (bar the missing, indigestion-causing few, unwisely fingered and then unputdownable) will return to the stale, dusty depths of the cupboard, untouched, for another lonely year.
Hence, when I discovered (and then slightly amended) this recipe for pistachio baci, my hopes weren’t too high. How VERY wrong I was! With a gloriously chewy, almost macaron-esque biscuit, alongside the bitter dark chocolate and orange ganache, this has risen through the ranks (and poked it’s head out at the top) to win the Glory of Glories, the Prize of Prizes – my favourite sweet award 2013! (And the fact that it was the easiest thing I’ve baked all year certainly doesn’t hinder my ability to heap on the praise…)
100g Caster Sugar
1 free~range Egg white
25g Self-Raising Flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
(for the filling):
50g slightly salted Butter, room temp
zest of a small Orange
squirt of Orange Juice – 1/2 tbsp
50g Dark Chocolate
1 free~range Egg Yolk
Icing Sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to 170c, gas mark 3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put your pistachios in a heatproof bowl and cover with freshly boiled water, leaving them to soak for 30 secs. Then drain and rinse them in cold water – this enables you to de-skin them with barely any effort at all, just popping them out like a butterfly from a chrysalis. (Ew. Don’t imagine that, on second thoughts).
Once mostly deskinned (don’t worry too much, it’ll just make the baci look nice and green and tempting!) whack them in the food processor and grind, then add the sugar, egg white, flour and baking powder, and whizz again, until they form a smooth, thick paste.
Roll the mix between your hands (warning, it’s pretty sticky, so you’ll probably have to keep washing and drying them after each 3 or 4 rolls!) and plop cherry tomato~sized balls onto your lined baking tray. Space them at least 5cm apart – they spread a bit. Bake them in your preheated oven for 8~10mins, until risen and just firm, but not coloured. They do lose a little of their brilliant green-ness, but never fear, it is waiting inside when you take that first bite! Put the tray on a rack to cool.
Whilst they cool, break up your chocolate and put it in a bain marie (stick it in a bowl, then suspend that bowl over a pan of boiling water). This method means your choc won’t burn. When almost melted, add the butter in. Keep stirring as you take the bowl off of the pan and away from heat, allowing the choc temperature to fall, as you add the orange zest and finally, the yolk (you don’t want the mix hot enough to cook the yolk and make scrambled chocolate egg!) Put the mix into the fridge to firm up as you let the biscuits cool.
Once cool, peel the biscuits off of the parchment and match them into reasonably similar pairs. Then take your chocolate ganache out of the fridge, and use a teaspoon to dollop chocolate onto one side of the baci biscuit, before squishing it’s lid on. Dust lightly with icing sugar if you want.
And there you go – if kisses were edible, they would taste like this.