Baci (Italian Chocolate-Hazelnut Kisses)

Top (almost) center: heaven hiding underneath the foil.

There is a wonderful chocolate-hazelnut confection produced by Perugina called Baci.    Pronounced BAH-chee, it is the Italian word for kisses.

Looking nothing like the American Hershey's Kiss, Baci is a more sophisticated Italian treat.  While the standard Kiss is a lump of plain milk chocolate wrapped in plain foil and packed with a paper strip reminding you that it's a HERSHEY KISS, Baci is a chocolate-hazelnut mixture wrapped in foil stamped with blue stars and packed with varying love notes.

Baci are relatively easy to make.  Unlike most candies, no thermometer is needed.  And if the idea of tempering chocolate gives you a bad temper, the little bit of Crisco added to the coating will calm you right down.

To more closely reproduce this candy for yourself, I suggest that you buy whole hazelnuts and coarsely grind or finely chop them yourself.  The store-bought chopped is not chopped finely enough, and the store-bought ground is ground way too fine.  You want something more in between.

If you squint and stare hard enough,
you still won't see the hazelnut outline.

Also, avoid shoving the whole hazelnuts so far into the chocolate-hazelnut mixture that it barely peeks out ... like I did (I was worried that the nut would fall off during the coating dip).  You want the nut pressed in just enough to stick, yet still protrude so that the outline of the nut is still visible after the dipping step. 

Baci (Italian Chocolate-Hazelnut Kisses) 
Lightly adapted from: The Jewish Week
Yield: 30-50, depending upon size

28 ozs. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
8 ozs. coarsely ground or chopped hazelnuts
30 to 50 whole hazelnuts
9 ozs. (slightly more than half of a 13 oz. container) Nutella
1/2 tsp. solid vegetable shortening (like Crisco)

Place 4 ozs. (about a 1/4 cup) of the chocolate chips in a 2 or 3-quart microwave-safe bowl.Microwave at full power for 30 seconds.  Stir then continue to microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in cocoa, Nutella, and ground (or chopped) hazelnuts. Refrigerate until mixture firms up but not solid, about 20-30 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wet hands with cold water and shake off excess (repeating wetting as chocolate starts to stick to your hands), than take some of the chocolate mixture and form a ball about 3/4-inch in diameter.

Don't bury the hazelnuts.
You want them to protrude more than shown here.

Place the balls on the parchment.   Press a whole hazelnut, pointed side up, into each ball. 

Melt the remaining chocolate chips along with the vegetable shortening in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir, then repeat a 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Using a plastic fork with the center tines broken off (and thus creating a dipping fork), dip the chocolate balls into the melted chocolate one by one, turning to cover completely. Place back on the parchment-lined tray and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to firm up the chocolate coating.

Baci along with their American cousins, packed for gift-giving.

To look more like The Real Thing, wrap baci individually in silver candy foil. 


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