Cookies,  Valentine's Day

Chocolate love: Surprise Me With A Kiss

There are many kinds of kisses; a mother’s tender kiss to her child, a platonic kiss hello or goodbye, a passionate lovers’ kiss or a chocolate kiss!!

Nestled inside these little butter nut balls is a kiss.  Butter balls are popular cookies, soft and tender with a gentle touch of finely chopped nuts.  The unexpected surprise of biting into a butter ball and finding a chocolate kiss were knows as the Surprise Cookie in my family.

It was my Aunt Mary that made these cookies for us when we were little.  While my aunt made many Italian cookies, she seemed to bake more kid friendly cookies for us.  And as a child, I can honestly say I looked forward to her holiday cookie trays.  I remember my excitement when I first realized a chocolate kiss was in the cookie.  It was like finding the prize in the Cracker Jack Box.  They quickly became my favorite and to this day when I see a butter ball cookie, I wonder if it might have a kiss inside.

Aunt Mary had two daughters, Debbie and Diane.  Our mothers were very close sisters and therefore, I spent a lot of time at her home.  Diane was closer in age to me; we went from playing dolls together to having babies just a few years apart from each other.   Since I’ve moved away, we see very little of each other but it’s funny how food can bring back memories and make you feel like it was just yesterday that I was playing dolls with Diane on my porch!

Through the years, I began making these “kisses” with Baci chocolates.  Baci (Italian for kisses) is a small dark chocolate and hazelnut candy.  Under the chocolate coating are chopped hazelnuts and in the middle is a whole hazelnut.  Talk about surprise, surprise in those cookies!!  What I also love about Baci chocolates is that each chocolate is wrapped with an affectionate love note!

So while I have used Baci chocolate in the past, I made these with a Hershey’s Kiss just as Aunt Mary did.  I’ve tweaked her recipe a bit and just like my mom’s handwritten recipes, I didn’t have much detail on how she actually made the cookies.  I started chilling the dough before and after shaping so that they held their ball shape better when baked.  This recipe makes about 4 dozen depending on how much dough you use to wrap around the kiss.  I prefer just a small amount of dough to make a small cookie ball.

Diane just mentioned to me that her husband loves these frozen, so she keeps them in the freezer.  Mine simply don’t last that long between kids, sharing with friends and my own personal indulgence!

Surprise Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups whole wheat/white flour or unbleached all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1 12 oz bag of Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

In a large stand up mixer, beat the butter sugar and vanilla thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until combined.  Mix in the walnuts.  Chill dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take about a tablespoon of dough and wrap around the Hershey’s Kiss rolling dough into small balls.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet; the cookies do not spread.  I will place the cookie tray in the refrigerator to firm the dough and chill for another 10-15 minutes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to become lightly golden.  Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  While still warm, roll in sifted powdered sugar.  Cool further and when totally cool, roll again in powdered sugar.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.  Store in covered container in a cool place.

February is #chocolatelove month!
Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove :).

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I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


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