Every year I look forward to the Food Network 12 Days of Cookies newsletter and I eagerly open each email and admire the pretty cookies. I always find something new to try or a twist on an old favorite, and this year was no exception. Day 1 kicked off the series with some beautiful Florentines, and I immediately added them as a new cookie for this year’s list. I’ve never made Florentines before, but I have enjoyed them on several occasions and I decided that it was high time I made my own, so Monday afternoon I made these cookies and then the boys and I worked together on one of our family favorites.
The recipe comes from the Food Network Kitchens, so I knew it was well-tested and I followed it almost to the letter. I didn’t blanch the almonds, though I probably should have, but I had a sick child on the sofa and two others having fun watching their toys bounce down the stairs. So it was a toss-up, you see: blanch the almonds or stop the boys from wreaking havoc and mayhem. I have a feeling I will be making similar choices for many years to come.
Maybe not blanching the almonds is the reason why I had trouble getting the dough to hold together long enough to make a cookie. I had to press and hold each cookie in my hand for about 15 seconds, waiting for my body heat to soften the dough and hold it together. Rolling the dough into a ball as the recipe suggests was totally out of the question because it just fell apart in a crumbly mess. I did learn that I should monitor the hot sugar mixture more carefully (when I’m not chasing after the boys) to make sure that the sugar fully dissolves, and that I should whisk the almond flour mixture just before adding the sugar and butter mixture so that the flour is evenly distributed. I had a couple tall and chewy Florentines at the end, probably caused by all the flour sinking to the bottom of the bowl. In spite of the challenges, I did manage to make some thin and crispy almond cookies with a lovely hint of orange. My three-year-old couldn’t stand it and kept swiping them off the counter. I’m amazed there were any left for me to decorate!
I made small Florentines by measuring just one rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie, although you can be extravagant and make them using a rounded tablespoon if you prefer. For drizzling the chocolate, I melted it in the microwave (my usual modus operandi) then put it into an 8-ounce squeeze bottle because it’s much easier to control than drizzling from a spoon or spatula. The chocolate squeezed out easily and formed nice, thin lines. Then I just let the chocolate cool and harden within the bottle and gave it a few squeezes again. The hard chocolate broke into small pieces that easily fell out when I removed the cap.
Keep the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days. They tend to absorb ambient moisture and lose their crispy crunch, so store them separately from moist cookies and cakes.
Adapted from Food Network’s 12 Days of Cookies 2007.
food processor with blade attachment
3 quart bowl
small sauce pan
2 or more baking sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats
microwave-safe bowl (optional)
clear plastic squeeze bottle, 8 ounces or smaller (optional)
1-3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt (I used sea salt.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (optional)
1. In the work bowl of the food processor, pulse the sliced almonds until they are finely chopped, like a meal. In the 3-quart bowl, stir together the almonds, flour, orange zest, and salt.
2. In the small sauce pan, heat the sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and butter over medium heat. Stir occasionally, until the mixture boils and the sugar completely dissolves. The liquid comes to a boil rather quickly, so don’t be tempted to wander off, otherwise you could end up with burned sugar. Boil for 1 more minute, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Stir the liquid into the almond flour mixture just until combined. Set aside and allow to cool until you can work with it in your hands.
3. While the cookie mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 350° F.
4. Scoop the dough one rounded teaspoon (or rounded tablespoon) at a time and shape into balls. Place each ball on the prepared baking sheets and space them about 3 or 4 inches apart because the cookies will spread.
5. Bake one pan at a time, about 10 or 11 minutes, until the cookies are thin and golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
6. CHOCOLATE: You can decorate the cookies with chocolate drizzle or make sandwiches with chocolate filling. Put the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on 50% heat for 1 minute. Stir and heat again at 50% for 30 seconds. Repeat 1 or 2 more times until the chocolate is fully melted. Drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies, or put about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the flat side of a cookie and press together with another. Set the decorated cookies on a wire rack until the chocolate is set.
7. Store cookies in an air-tight container separated by layers of wax paper or parchment. Cookies will keep for up to 3 days.
[An original post from Andrea Meyers: making life delicious. All images and text copyrighted, All Rights Reserved.]
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