December 27, 2011
For the holidays, I decided to look like a real gourmet and make a classic Italian cookie, The Florentine. With almonds, orange zest, butter, semi-sweet chocolate, and honey as the primary ingredients, this cookie has a complex and worldly taste.
I am a big fan of mixing chocolate and orange, so this particular recipe, which I borrowed from Giada De Laurentis, was just what I wanted. Plus, the peanut brittle-esque texture made it all the more interesting.
The reviews on the Food Network website seemed to unanimously agree that this cookie was absolutely delicious but rather finicky to bake in the oven, the issue being spreading and burning. I learned that it is best to scoop no more than one teaspoon of batter onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and to bake no more than six cookies at once for about 9 to 10 minutes.
Of course all ovens are a bit different. It is also extremely important to watch these cookies closely as they bake because they can quickly go from almost perfect to burned in a matter of seconds.
Other than that, these cookies were easy to make and are so worth the little bit of trouble I had to endure, and I even doubled the recipe. They bake into a beautifully imperfect, delicate and lacy cookie that can be sandwiched to a similar sized cookie using semi-sweet chocolate. I chose to use Ghiardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips because when it comes to baking cookies for other people, I want to make them taste as good as they possibly can. I used my Wilton Chocolate Pro that I got with one of those 40% of coupons you get with your receipt from Michael’s, and it was one of the best investments I ever made. I use it all the time for things like cake balls and truffles. Some people just left out the chocolate in this recipe because they are just as tasty on their own. Everyone that tasted these cookies claimed they melted in their mouths, and that I had really outdone myself. They liked that they weren’t too heavy and that they awakened the taste buds in a unique way. You have to try them to understand what I mean. The next time you need to make cookies, you should definitely try this recipe. People will be impressed with you. They are pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
Florentine Cookies (courtesy of Giada De Laurentis)
- 2 cups sliced almonds, chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the almonds, flour and zest in a medium bowl. Stir the sugar, butter, cream, and honey in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the almond mixture. Cool the batter for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using 1 teaspoon of batter for each cookie, spoon 6 mounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart (the cookies will spread). Flatten the batter slightly with your finger.
Bake the cookies until they are lacy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Gently slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a rack and cool completely. Transfer the cookies to paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter, lining the baking sheets with clean parchment for each batch. (The cookies can be made up to this point 2 months ahead. Cool completely, then store airtight in the freezer. Defrost before continuing.)
Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, or using a chocolate melting device, until the chocolate melts. Spread the melted chocolate over the bottom of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom side down, pressing lightly to adhere. Repeat with the remaining cookies and chocolate.
Enjoy my friends!