Love Knots were originally inspired when I returned home from an idyllic three weeks in Italy in the fall of 2006.
On a very romantic Saturday morning date at Torino’s Caffe’ Al Bicerin – a chocolatier and chocolate café that dates back to 1763 – we shared the famous hot Bicerin beverage, which is espresso, chocolate, and cream served in a stem glass … and, a piece of milk chocolate cake for which recipe I would have paid $1 million to ransom if I could have.
When I came home, I found the Al Bicerin website which was very rustic and only in Italian at that hour, and a bit difficult to navigate. They had some recipes available, but not for that chocolate cake. One recipe was for little pastries like these and the instructions translated in English as wrap chocolate in pastry and bake until swollen.
Since I’m a smart girl, I got it and promptly served Love Knots for the first time at catered Christmas parties that season, as dessert straight from the oven.
Later in life, at the Spanish Bar, I added the cinnamon sugar dip/coating (and sleep prescription; read recipe), and Love Knots became legendary.
My heart was really still in Italy all this time. I first wrote this recipe for the Italian National Team (who won the World Cup in July 2006) as my love note to them that following Christmas.
Now it’s your turn to serve these – year-round – to those you love.
4 squares frozen puff pastry (find at international markets/grocery stores)
24 Hershey’s milk or dark chocolate kisses, unwrapped
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Thaw puff pastry squares for several hours (or overnight) in refrigerator or, place on counter for an hour or so.
In a large bowl, mix sugar and spices; keep nearby.
Place one square on cutting board, and cut into 6 even pieces (cut long side vertically in half then cut each half in horizontal thirds).
Set chocolate in center of pastry piece, and gently wrap pastry around chocolate to enfold it completely. Pinch pastry securely at the top and be sure no chocolate is popping out.
Repeat process with all pastry and chocolate, placing all wrapped love knots in bowl of cinnamon sugar, tossing gently to coat all pieces. Prepare as directed below to bake.
If there is time before serving, place plastic wrap over bowl, and place in refrigerator to sleep overnight. Gently toss love knots in the sugar occasionally if possible. Then follow baking instructions below.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place oven racks on lower two levels.
Place sugared love knots on baking sheet, about ½” apart; they will not expand so it’s likely that they will all fit on one sheet.
Bake on lowest rack for about 7 minutes, then turn pan and place on upper rack to bake for another 4-6 minutes. Love knots ought to be lightly browned and if still pale, add time increments 1-2 minutes at a time until they are baked to a light brown.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Best served warm!
Yields 24 love knots.