In my opinion, Lady’s Kiss isn’t the most appealing name for a biscuit. For me, it places somewhere on the dodgy/ slightly seedy spectrum and this certainly isn’t helped by the description in Coffee Time Treats: ‘Ladies’ kisses cookies have a delicious texture and an exquisite lingering flavour- just like the loveliest kind of kiss should have’. However, each to their own, and I suppose an exquisite lingering flavour is better than one after a few pints and jaeger bombs down the Bigg Market on a Saturday night. So why not give them a shot? At least it gives me another chance besides the apple, pecan and dark chocolate biscotti to justify my random bout of impulse buying at TK Maxx. Once I braced myself to risk a bit more research on a google search I discovered that Ladies’ Kisses, or Baci di dama, are traditionally from Tortona in Italy. The sandwich effect is supposed to resemble two lips with the intent to kiss and they are more typically made with hazelnuts instead of almonds. I, on the other hand, am just a bit vain. Thinking that they looked quite pretty in the photograph was enough to make me decide to experiment with them for my next blog post.
As I had never made them before I decided to keep the biscuit recipe the same. It is really simple, so there is definitely some room for playing around with the flavours if you want. However, as with the biscotti I found the baking took a lot more time than expected. Mine took closer to half an hour than 10 minutes and although this could be because I’m lowering the temperature to incorporate a fan oven unnecessarily, I’m so used to baking at 160 Fan that, in this instance, I didn’t think this would be the case. However, note to self, don’t change the temperature next time.
What I did decide to play around with was the filling. The recipe gets you to make something similar to a ganache, using butter instead of cream, and states you can use Nutella as a quick substitute. However, I decided to switch the chocolate for saffron and honey. Why, to be honest, I’m not quite sure. I have always been interested in using saffron purely because I was never sure exactly what it brought to a recipe. As someone wrote rather passive aggressively on a forum, you wouldn’t use something that expensive just for colour. I therefore decided to slightly boil the saffron in the honey to release the flavour and I have to admit it tasted delicious. The honey flavour was still strong, but it gave it a deeper and slightly smokier tone and made it seem more indulgent.
Although this did not occur to me at the time it is unsurprising to hear that, even when I added a small amount of butter, it didn’t set. Why I thought it would is beyond me; apparently I am still in the process of learning that I am not some baking goddess who can alter physics and make her random ingredient combinations magically work in the way she wants. I therefore decided that I needed to use the flavoured honey more as a syrup and incorporate it either into a buttercream or some whipped cream. I decided to go for the buttercream. I thought adding just more butter would make it too rich and you needed something to break up the heaviness i.e. icing sugar. I am also not the biggest fan of whipped cream and am always aware of how quickly it cuts down shelf life. There would have also been a lot left over as you only need a surprisingly small amount, so I thought I would try and minimise wastage for once in my life. However, feel free to try the whipped cream as I imagine it carries the flavour better: the downside of using buttercream is that it definitely masks some of the lovely smokiness of the saffron honey.
On the whole, however, they went down pretty well. I took a few into work and they disappeared fairly quickly. They all said they tasted really nice and that, although it is quite hard to pin down the exact flavour of the saffron, there was definitely something slightly different. Strangely enough I haven’t actually had chance to try one yet and since I am about to go to the gym (a.k.a about to go and give myself a stitch while turning a rather shocking shade of magenta) my verdict will have to wait. Either way though, I’m sure I’ll enjoy (as I do almost anything edible) and I hope you do too!
Honey and Saffron Ladies’ Kisses (makes 10 biscuits)
For the biscuits
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature.
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g plus 1 tbsp plain flour
For the filling
- 50g honey
- Pinch of saffron
- 50g butter
- Icing sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160 Fan/ 35oF.
- Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and fully incorporated. Add the flour and the almonds and work until it forms quite a dry dough.
- Separate the dough into 20 balls and space across a lined baking tray. Bake for around 25-30 minutes, turning the tray in intervals to make sure they colour evenly. You are looking for a nice golden colour.
- Once baked, leave for a couple of minutes to harden and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the honey and saffron in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat. When the honey starts bubbling, remove it from the heat and leave to cool.
- While the honey is cooling, make the buttercream by beating the butter until softened and adding small amounts of icing sugar until you are happy with the flavour and the consistency is perfectly smooth. Then add the honey and continue to mix until the flavours all blend together.
- Spread the mixture onto the bottom of one biscuit and sandwich with another a similar size. Repeat the process until you have 10 sandwiched biscuits.