Disa is in town from Denmark (Disa is the wife of famous brewmeister Niels Thomson of Denmark and she is my oldest friend – we met on the first day of Kindergarten). Check out Disa and Niel’s brewery online – it’s Wintercoat.dk. Their beer is excellent! Truly.) Disa is in town putting together a program to bring 20 of her students to Santa Monica for five-weeks next January. The students will be studying at Santa Monica college in a program designed for them. We’re looking for host families for the students if you know anyone. The students want to live with families who have children their age – between 17 and 19. In addition to the school program, Disa will have activities for them some mandatory and some elective. They will bus or ride bicycles to school (the Danes are used to bicycle riding – it’s very much part of their culture). It’s a very exciting opportunity for the students and for the host families as well. Let me know.
So…Disa and her Principal Enja are in town and they came for dinner last night which was a huge treat for us. When Disa comes for dinner I don’t plan a menu. I just buy vegetables and sometimes a protein although that’s not really necessary, and set her in my kitchen and off she goes. She is the most amazing cook I have ever known. It was getting a little bit late so I thought I’d get started. My contribution was a roasted cauliflower soup (Vegan) and some Baci di Dama cookies which I have been wanting to make forever.
I actually had the ground hazelnuts that Disa brought to me last time she was in town so the preparation time easy as I didn’t have to peel and roast the nuts. These cookies are delicious. As was the entire meal made primarily by my dear dear friend.
Baci Di Dama
(Chocolate filled hazelnut cookies) (from David Lebovitz and Food52)
3 ½ ounces (100 grams) hazelnuts, shelled and skins off or ground
hazelnuts 3 ½ ounces (100 grams)
very cold butter, cubed
3 ½ ounces (1/2 cup or 100 grams) sugar
3 ½ ounces (3/4 cup or 100 grams) flour
3 ½ ounces (100 grams) good quality dark chocolate
If your hazelnuts have skins, toast in the oven until warm and fragrant but not changing colors then remove and rub them with a dish towel to remove the skins or put in a plastic bag and shake and apparently the skins come off, or leave the skins on and you’ll have flecked cookies which is really pretty. Once the nuts are all cool, blend in the food processor until the nuts resemble sand.
Make sure the butter is super cold. Combine the hazelnut meal, sugar, flour, and cubed butter in a bowl and rub with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs (or pulse a few times in a food processor).
Knead the dough until it just comes together into a dough. Flatten to a disc about an inch high and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate overnight if you can or at least for an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out teaspoon size portions into balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet an inch or so apart. These cookies only spread a little as they turn into domes, so they don’t need a whole bunch of room between them. Place the cookies that are on the sheets back into the fridge for a couple of hours before making or if you’re in a rush, put into the freezer for 30-minutes.
Bake in a low oven about 285 to 300° F for 15 minutes or until the cookies become hemispheres and are dry to touch. They will be only lightly baked and very fragile. Don’t touch them until they’re cool.
While the cookies are cooling down, place the dark chocolate over a double boiler and let it melt. Then let it cool until it’s thick enough that you can spoon a bit onto a cookie without it dribbling off the sides of the cookies.
Place a teaspoon or less of the chocolate on the bottom half of the cookies and before the chocolate set place another cookie on the top and leave it to set.
Store in an airtight container. The cookies keep for a bit and are even better a few days later.