Have you ever had a Florentine? If not, move these to the top of your "to-make" list. Oh, heck, even if you have had them move them to the top! These are fun, festive, delicious little morsels of butter and sugar and not much else.
I had had Florentines a few times, and never thought much of them. Surprisingly, the ones I've had were from a local bakery that has some of the best cookies I've ever eaten, but the Florentines are rather bland. Oh, they look amazing, but they taste like wax. Never a good thing.
Florentines are so lovely, I really wanted to like them, so I thought I'd make them myself and see if my opinion of them could be altered. It has forever been altered. Part cookie, part candy, these are scrumptious. They are chewy - though ever so slightly crispy around the edges - buttery, not too sweet, caramel-y, lightly orange-flavored, superb.
They are lace cookies, meaning that they spread so thin while baking that all that is left is a thin, hole-y layer of batter that forms something resembling lace. They are quite lovely, and there are many possibilities of how to incorporate chocolate into them. I drizzled - though admittedly my drizzling needs some work - and I don't think it provides enough chocolate to cookie ratio this way. I was planning on spreading the melted chocolate on the backs of the cookies, but they are rather delicate cookies, and started to break apart when I tried this. I was short on time, so I went with the drizzle.
These cookies have a minimal amount of flour in them, and could easily be made gluten-free.
Though this version contains orange zest, I think they would also be wonderful with lemon zest, ginger or espresso powder, among other things.
They are not difficult cookies to make by any means, but you do need to be careful when baking them. There is a very small window where they are perfectly baked and it is easy to miss it.
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons orange zest
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 oz semisweet chocolate
Combine almonds, flour, zest and salt in medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix together sugar, butter, cream and agave and stir continually until mixture comes to a boil. Pour over almond mixture and stir to combine. Let cool for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, meanwhile, preheat oven to 350. When dough is cool enough to handle, place 6 tablespoon-sized mounds of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and press them into relatively flat disks. These cookies spread a lot, so give them as much space as you can. Bake for 10-14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are caramel in color and the centers are tinged with golden but still look a little moist. Cool on baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely. In the meantime, melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Transfer cool cookies to paper towel and blot any butter residue from them. Drizzle melted chocolate over cookies, dip cookies in melted chocolate, spread chocolate on the backs of cookies and make them into sandwiches (or leave them as chocolate-backed single cookies). Go wild!