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Italian Ladies Kisses

Italian Lady’s Kisses Hazelnut Cookies

Renée Robinson

A Layer of Chocolate Ganache Sandwiches These Little Buttery Hazelnut Cookies.

These little Italian cookies have quickly become a favorite around here. They’re called Baci di Dama, which translates to Lady’s Kisses, and this is David Lebovitz’s recipe, which he was given by Terresa Murphy. The dough has 4 ingredients: hazelnuts, butter, rice flour, and sugar. You’ll also need some salt if you don’t use salted butter. David’s recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I used salted butter, as I most always do. He also says you could use all purpose flour instead of rice flour, but I think the rice flour adds a beautiful sandy texture to the cookie and highly recommend it. 

Here is a link to his recipe, but I simplified the technique. In fact, I simplified it a great deal. He begins with having you roast and skin the hazelnuts. I don’t know about you, but I find this to be a tedious chore and I was able to find hazelnuts that were already toasted and skinned, so that was one step I eliminated.

He then instructs you to finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor, dump them into a bowl and work in the rest of the ingredients by hand. Well, I read in the comments how many people had problems with the dough not coming together properly, no matter how much they kneaded it. I saw no reason to do it by hand. I simply added the butter, rice flour, and sugar to the food processor and processed it until it was fully incorporated. There’s no need to worry about the dough becoming tough because there’s no gluten in it if you use rice flour. 

Comparison of Dough Balls Before and After Baking
Before and after baking

He then advises you to roll it into logs, chill them, divide them into small pieces, and roll them into balls. I did none of this. I removed the blade from the food processor, got my hands in there and made sure it was properly mixed. He said each ball should weigh 5 grams. I found that a compacted teaspoon weighed 6 grams and that’s what I went with. I simply scooped teaspoons of the dough from the bowl of the food processor, rolled them into balls between my palms and placed them on parchment lined baking sheets. 

I baked one sheet while preparing the next sheet and the timing worked out perfectly. He also says to bake them until the tops are lightly golden. Nope to this, too. The tops do not brown. At all. If you waited until they started turning golden, you’d have over baked cookies. 15 minutes was the perfect amount of baking time. 

They need to cool completely before filling them. Now, about the filling. I changed it. The recipe calls for using only melted chocolate. Well, I didn’t relish the thought of biting into a hard layer of chocolate. These cookies are tender, so I made ganache for the filling, keeping it nice and thick, so it would firm up as it cooled. I fully realize this breaks with the classic version of this cookie. It’s simply my own take.

Finished Tops of Kisses with Chocolate

Rather than trying to spoon the small amount of chocolate onto these little cookies, I filled a silicon squirt bottle with the ganache and found it was the perfect tool for depositing the perfect sized amount of filling onto half the cookies.

As I mentioned earlier, these are really good cookies. I doubled the recipe and I’m very happy about that decision. Otherwise, these would have been gone in one day. Besides being so delicious, they’re also completely charming in appearance. These little cookies are perfect for holiday giving, too, as they also freeze beautifully.

Italian Ladies Kisses

Italian Lady's Kisses Hazelnut Cookies

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Tender and crispy little hazelnut cookies are sandwiched with a rich chocolate ganache. Very easy and absolutely delicious!

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  • 1 1/4 cups (140g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

  • 1 cup (140g) rice flour, or all purpose flour

  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) salted butter, room temperature

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

  • Chocolate Ganache Filling
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup


  • Preheat the oven to 325° with a rack in the center.
  • Place the hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor and process until they’re very fine. Add the rice flour and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and sugar. Process until it is fully mixed. Continue to process until it holds together when you squeeze a piece of it in your hand. I scraped the sides of the bowl several times and processed it quite a bit. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt the dough.
  • Using a measuring spoon, scoop a compacted teaspoon of the dough, roll it into a ball, and place on a parchment lined sheet pan, spacing them about an inch apart. Each ball of dough should weigh between 5 and 6 grams.
  • Bake the first pan for 15 minutes, while preparing the next sheet pan. Repeat. Let the cookies cool completely on the pans before handling them.
  • Pipe little dollops of the ganache on the flat side of half the cookies and top with the remaining cookies. Let sit for about an hour in order for the filling to firm up. These can be frozen very successfully, too. Enjoy!
  • Chocolate Ganache Filling
  • In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir it until it’s fully homogenized and glossy. Set aside until it cools to room temperature.


  • Food Processor


6 Responses

  1. Hi! I started making these cookies back when David Lebovitz first posted it years ago. My daughter has since always asked for them at Christmas. I have only used almonds though because I can’t get hazelnuts where I live. They are so delicious too, but I haven’t tried hazelnuts either so can’t say what the difference is. I made them recently but on the second batch I was short on rice flour and subbed a little tapioca starch. I bet glutinous rice flour would also work. It gave the cookies a little more crisp texture and the dough seemed to hold together a little better and not be quite as crumbly. I thought I’d share my recent experience. I’m with you on all the changes you made. I never needed to refrigerate. I love the ganache tip. I use Nutella but that doesn’t harden. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re very welcome and thanks for the info! I’m glad to know the tapioca starch worked well and that they’re also good with almonds. They’re such delicious cookies, aren’t they? Thanks for reaching out to me. I greatly appreciate it.

  2. Hoo, boy! I always come here looking for one recipe (in this case, the ice cream “cake” and find at least one other gem. These sound and look fabulous! They will be coming to my Christmas dessert buffet. Thanks, Renee!

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