1/2 cup Whole Blanched Almonds
1 tablespoon Granulated Sugar
To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 325F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them until they are light golden brown and fragrant, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the almonds from the oven and turn off the oven until you are ready to form the cookies. Allow the almonds to cool completely, then grind them in a food processor with the 1 tablespoon sugar until the are finely chopped.
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Unsweetened Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
1 cup (2 sticks/8 ounces) Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Dark Rum
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and confectioners sugar on medium speed until creamy and light, about 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla extract and rum and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the ground almonds. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatted it into a disk, wrap it in plastic, and chill for about 1 hour, until it is firm enough to handle.
Granulated Sugar (for rolling)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the others wrapped and refrigerated. Roll 1 portion of dough into a small log about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut each log into 1/2-inch lengths and roll each piece into a ball, then roll the balls in granulated sugar to coat them completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1/2-inch apart. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
Bake the cookies, rotating the sheets 180 degrees to ensure even browning, until they are puffed and cracking slightly on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them gently to a wire rack to cool completely.
8 oz Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate (chopped)
1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter (softened)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 teaspoons Dark Rum/Grappa/Cognac/or your favorite liqueur (optional)
While the cookies are cooling, make the ganache filling: place the chopped chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil and pour it over the chocolate and butter. Allow the mixture to sit for a few moments, then whisk until smooth and glossy. Whisk in the rum, if you like. Allow the ganache to cool, whisking it occasionally, until it is firm enough to pipe.
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
To assemble the kisses: pair up the cookies according to size. Turn one cookie upside down and, using a pastry bag fitted with a plain or star tip, pipe a small amount of ganache onto the flat side, then place the bottm of the second cookie on the ganache to form a sandwich; the two round tops of the cookie should be facing outward. Repeat until all of the cookies have been used. Allow the ganache to firm up, at room temperature or in the refrigerator if necessary, then transfer the kisses to a serving plate. Garnish cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar.
The cookies can be stored, layered between sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight container kept in a cool place for up to 3 days.