Baci: Make Chocolate Hazelnut Valentine Kisses

Homemade Baci
Homemade Baci
Nothing says “I love you” like homemade Baci.

 

We shot 3 new video episodes yesterday. Don’t miss any of my new YouTube cooking shows released every Saturday. Subscribe today.

Even though I was busy shooting I had time to make these too.

Perugina Baci, the chocolate covered hazelnut kisses with little love notes tucked inside are a must for Valentine’s Day.

Why not have fresh? Make your own with this simple recipe. Even you guys can make this one for someone special. And if you don’t want to write your own note go to Perugina for love note ideas.

I was inspired by this video clip to show you how to make baci.

My friend and superb teacher Viola Buitoni sold out her Valentine’s Day event at the SF Italian Cultural Institute. Her family started Perugina Chocolate in Perugia and have been making baci they invented since 1922. Call the Institute. Sometimes you can score a ticket if someone cancels. If you get lucky you’ll learn how Viola makes baci and hear her family stories.

If you need Valentine inspiration here are some other suggetions for that special day. Stay home and cook. The restaurants will all be insane.

Make my romantic spaghetti in a pocket or how about super easy baked ziti. If you insist on going out here are some romantic North Beach restaurant suggestions.

And if you want to get a little weepy read how a parental spat created an accidental heart when I was growing up in Jersey.

Don’t forget to add love notes to your baci gifts.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Buon appetito!

Baci: Make Chocolate Hazelnut Valentine Kisses
 
Homemade chocolate & hazelnut baci. These kisses are easy to make. If you like intense chocolate flavor with roasted hazelnuts this one's for you.
Author:
Recipe type: Candy
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole hazelnuts, roasted
  • 6½ ounces Nutella or chocolate-hazlenut butter if you want organic
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
Instructions
  1. Roast the hazelnuts in a 425 oven for 10 minutes. Remove the skin from the nut.
  2. Set 20 whole hazelnuts aside.
  3. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor to break the nuts into small pieces or chop them by hand.
  4. Put the chopped hazelnuts, the Nutella and cocoa powder in a bowl.
  5. Mix them well with a spatula to form a smooth dough.
  6. Form 20 balls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently push a whole hazelnut on top of every ball. (If the dough gets too hard to shape chill it in the freezer.)
  7. Place the sheet in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  9. Dip the chilled “baci” into the melted chocolate. (I hold it on a fork in the chocolate and spoon chocolate on top to cover it all over.)
  10. Put the baci back on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  11. Allow them to dry a few minutes. (If the baci aren't firming up well put them in the freezer for a few minutes.)

Baked Ziti for Valentine’s Day?

A quick, rich baked pasta dish from beautiful Sorrento on the Bay of Naples.
A quick, rich baked pasta dish from beautiful Sorrento on the Bay of Naples.

Why go out for a “romantic” dinner on Valentine’s Day? The restaurants are crazy busy. Why tolerate the hassle of overbooked places and food pouring out of an overworked kitchen? All you’ll get is agita (heartburn).

Don’t go out. Stay home and cook Valentine’s Day dinner together. Start a new tradition. Enjoy your time cooking together and share food made with love.

A fresh, crunchy and complex Fennel & Orange Salad with Oil-Cured Olives is a perfect first course. Prosecco or Pinot Grigio pairs well with the salad in a citrus vinaigrette.

Baked Ziti alla Sorrento is the star of this special dinner. It’s an Italian version of mac ‘n cheese from the sunny coast of the Bay of Naples.

The small pasta tubes are coated in creamy ricotta, soft melted mozzarella and marinara sauce then baked in the oven. I can’t resist picking off the nutty toasted ziti on top. Save the leftovers. Baked ziti is even better the next day. Aglianico, Nero d’Avola or Chianti go well with the ziti.

By making the marinara while the pasta water comes to a boil and the salad as the ziti bakes, dinner will be ready in about an hour.

And for dessert, top a big scoop of vanilla gelato with a shot of limoncello or your favorite liqueur. Who knows, after all that wine this might be just what you both need to get lucky.

Still want to go out for Valentine’s Day dinner? Try one of these North Beach restaurants.

Buon appetito! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Baked Ziti alla Sorrentino
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy baked ziti is sumptuous. The pasta is coasted with creamy ricotta, mozzarella and marinara then baked in the oven until crispy on top.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Marinara Sauce
  • 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 large branch of fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Baked Ziti
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano, pecorino or grana padano
Instructions
  1. Before you get started put a large pot of well salted water to boil over high heat. (Use about 5 quarts of water and at least 1 tablespoon of sea salt for a pound of pasta.) Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Marinara Sauce
  3. Put the olive oil and garlic in a pan and over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic until it starts to take on some color.
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and salt.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir occasionally and cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
  6. Set the sauce aside.
  7. Baked Ziti
  8. Cut the mozzarella into 1-inch cubes.
  9. Put the ricotta in a strainer to drain.
  10. Cook the ziti in a large pot of well-salted rapidly boiling water. Drain the ziti just as it reaches al dente, about 10 minutes.
  11. Put the ziti in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, mozzarella, ½ cup grated cheese, 2 cups of marinara sauce and basil leaves ripped in small pieces. Mix to coat the pasta well,
  12. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with marinara sauce.
  13. Spread the ziti evenly in the baking dish.
  14. Top the ziti with the remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
  15. Bake in the oven until the top of the baked ziti starts to turn golden, about 30 minutes.
  16. Serve immediately.