Baci di Dama (‘Basin’ in Piedmontese dialect), or ‘Lady’s Kisses’, are small cakes consisting of two tiny ‘domes’ of PGI Piedmontese hazelnut-flavoured paste, baked in the oven then sandwiched together with 70% dark chocolate.
The version offered is traditional in flavour but has an original shape, reminiscent of a millstone.
The classic shape is rounder and the domes are two half-spheres that resemble two lips kissing, as the name suggests.
This typically Piedmontese recipe was created in the city of Tortona in the 19th century.
It subsequently spread throughout the region thanks to the ready availability of hazelnuts – in the Langa hills – and chocolate, popularised by the Savoy royal family.
One legend has it that Lady’s Kisses were created by a Savoy chef to pander to King Vittorio Emanuele II’s sweet tooth.
Won over by the man’s brainchild, the king is said to have spread the biscuit’s fame to royal tables all over Italy and the rest of Europe.
AREA OF PRODUCTION
The main area of production is Southern Piedmont, Italy.
20% PGI Piedmontese hazelnuts, sugar, type 0 wheat flour, butter, egg yolk.
Filling: 18% dark chocolate (cocoa paste, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract, 70% minimum cocoa), bitter cocoa powder.
PGI Piedmontese hazelnuts (‘Tonda e Gentile delle Langhe’), from the Langa hills, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Universally acknowledged as the best in the world, they are much appreciated for their excellent aroma, delicate flavour and low fat content.
They are supplied by the Azienda Agricola Lurgo Flavio farm in Corneliano d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy.
The flour is strictly organic and is acquired from two of the finest local mills:
Mulino Marino Felice in Cossano Belbo, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing natural stone-ground organic flour, conferred with a Piedmont Regional Authority certificate for ‘Artisanal Excellency’;
Mulino Sobrino in La Morra, Piedmont, Italy.
A mill producing flours from the finest Langa soft grain varieties, involved in a research project designed to revive and reuse heirloom native soft grain varieties.
The butter of the Fattorie Fiandino farms in Villafalletto, Piedmont, Italy.
Made exclusively with the cream – left to rest for 72 hours – from the milk of free-range Bruna Alpina cattle.
The eggs of the Agricola F.lli Rosso farm in Sommariva Perno, Piedmont, Italy.
70% min. dark chocolate.
The chocolate used is produced by Belcolade of Belgium, a leader in chocolate-making whose chocolate is made with pure cocoa butter and vanilla, natural ingredients processed in accordance with the highest quality criteria.
Supplied by the Italian firm Master Martini.
Lady’s Kisses – Basin ‘d Langa are produced by pastry chef Gianfranco Tibaldi in his ‘Laboratorio di pasticceria artigianale Tibo’ workshop at Strada dei Magliani 47 Frazione Scaparoni, Alba, Piedmont, Italy.
The workshop produces traditional Piedmontese confectionery with artistic flair, often revisiting it with imaginative innovativeness.
Gianfranco Tibaldi refuses to compromise over the quality of his ingredients and produces everything himself, entirely by hand and with huge passion.
To prepare the mixture for Lady’s Kisses – Basin ‘d Langa, it takes about 50 minutes.
First the butter is creamed with the sugar.
Whisking all the time, the egg yolk, the Piedmontese hazelnut flour (prepared beforehand by grinding the nuts) and the type 0 flour are folded into the mixture.
The resulting dough is covered and left to rest overnight.
The next day the dough is rolled out and, using a pastry cutter, shaped into round dome shapes, which are then laid onto baking trays and baked in the oven for 15 minutes at 160°C.
The small domes are left to cool, then sandwiched together, one by one, with previously softened 70% dark chocolate.
The Lady’s Kisses are left to rest overnight and are ready for wrapping the next day.
PERIOD OF PRODUCTION
Lady’s Kisses – Basin ‘d Langa are produced continuously and may be bought and consumed all year round.
Lady’s Kisses – Basin ‘d Langa, which are free from preservatives, have an average life of 120 days from their date of production (check the ‘best before’ date on the box).
These typical Piedmontese cookies can be eaten as a delicious snack through the day.
In the areas of production they are often served with a cup of coffee or a glass of Moscato DOCG.
Gianfranco Tibaldi is an eclectic pastry chef but also a blues fan.
His tip is to enjoy the cookies listening to Eric Dolphy’s ‘Like Someone in Love’ (At the Five Spot, vol. 2).