Italian Chocolate Kiss Cookies (or Baci di Cioccolato), Gluten-Free

Special Equipment Needed
-stand mixer is always nice, but a hand mixer will do
-parchment paper

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C. brown rice flour
1 1/4 C. white rice flour
1 C. tapioca flour
1 C. sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture of your choice--just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4-1/2 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cookies)


For the cookies:
1/2 C whole almonds
1 TBL granulated sugar for grinding with the almonds
Extra granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
1 1/2 C Jeanne's Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher (large-grained) salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 C confectioner's sugar (sifted)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: 1 TBL rum

For the ganache filling:
8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use chocolate chips)
1 TBL unsalted butter
3/4 C heavy cream
Optional: 2 tsp rum, grappa, or liquor of your choice--I use rum

To make the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
-blanch the almonds in boiling water for 30 seconds
-strain and remove skins (this is easy--just squeeze the almond and the almond will shoot out of the skin).  Discard skins.

-arrange almonds in a single-layer on a small cookie sheet and toast in oven for 14-16 minutes (until light brown and fragrant).  Monitor so they don't burn.
-remove from oven and set aside to cool completely
-turn off oven
-when almonds are cool, grind in food processor with 1 TBL granulated sugar until the are finely chopped

-in a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside
-in the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy--for a few minutes
-add the confectioner's sugar, continue to beat
-add the vanilla and the rum, scraping down the sides of the bowl. For a few seconds it will look like the vanilla and rum aren't being incorporated into the butter mixer--be patient, they will
-turn mixer to low speed add dry ingredients to butter mixture
-add ground almonds to batter, beat until just incorporated
-scoop out stiff batter onto a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap completely with plastic wrap, and put in refrigerator to firm up, about 1 hour

-once the dough has firmed up, take out about 1/3 of the dough from the refrigerator
-pull off little pieces of the dough and roll them between your hands, making balls a little smaller than ping pong balls
-pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl
-roll in each ball in the granulated sugar until coated and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch between each ball
-bake at 325 degree for 12-16 minutes (I need about 15 mins)
-remove from oven and let cookies cool on sheet--you must let cookies cool before you try to remove from the sheet. If you try to remove them while they're still warm, they will completely fall apart in your hands. And then you will have crumbs. Delicious crumbs, but crumbs just the same.
-Repeat procedure with the remaining 2/3s of the dough. I get about 60 balls out of the dough, which translates into 60 single cookies or 30 sandwich cookies

While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache:
-pour cream into heavy-bottomed sauce pan and heat until just boiling
-take cream off of heat, add chocolate and butter to pan and whisk until completely melted and smooth
-add rum if using. I often use 1 tsp of rum instead of 2.
-whisk until rum is incorporated
-let ganache sit until it is cool and firm enough to spread without dripping
-to assemble: take a cookie and spread about 2 tsp ganache on the flat side
-place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the ganache
-press lightly so they hold together
-repeat process for the remainder of the cookies
-you can also serve these without the ganache as single cookies