Opera Kitchen: I baci di Manon Lescaut

No opera expresses the passion burning between lovers like Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Just think of the Act II duet between the protagonist and Des Grieux, their irrepressible desire to fully experience their yearning love. And we turn those languid kisses into a wonderful dessert, originally from Tortona (in Piedmont): I Bacio di dama, two halves of a cookie that meet in a tender kiss with a chocolate heart.

Ingredients for 125 cookies: ・Butter 300 g ・Sugar 300 g ・Almond flour 300 g ・Flour 300 g ・Egg whites (about 1 large) 50 g ・Fine salt 3 g

For the filling ・Tempered dark chocolate 375 g

To prepare I baci di dama, start with the shortcrust pastry. In the bowl of a planetary mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, pour the soft but still plastic cubed butter and the sugar. Let it run a few seconds on low speed until the dough is well blended. Add the almond flour and run the planetary mixer again. Pour the egg whites into a bowl, add the salt to dissolve it. Pour everything into the dough. As soon as the fat mass is well blended, turn off the machine and add the already sifted flour. Always mix on low speed, eventually cleaning up the edges of the planetary mixer with a spatula after a few seconds. As soon as the flour has been absorbed, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Add a light layer of flour on top and compact it without kneading. Wrap the dough ball with plastic wrap and transfer it to the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. When the dough is well stabilized transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Using two rulers, roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is an even 1 cm thick. Trim the first edge, then cut strips lengthwise 2 cm thick using ruler and knife. Make the lattice by making 2-cm-wide strips in the other direction, so that you make cubes that will weigh about 4-5 g each. Round them out in the palm of one hand and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them apart. With these doses you will get about 250. Bake in a static oven preheated to 180° for 12 minutes. As soon as the cookies are golden brown, take them out of the oven and let them cool. Now temper the chocolate and transfer it inside a baking paper cone. Turn half of the half spheres upside down, squeeze some chocolate in the center and place another half sphere on top, pressing lightly so that they are joined. Repeat this for all cookies and allow to solidify before enjoying. If it gets too hot, store the baci di dama in the refrigerator. Don’t make them too big, because they have to bake well in order not to be chewy in the center, but especially because the effect must be like Manon’s kisses: one pulls the other. Enjoy!

Read the entire interview here, in the 8th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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