Friday, December 18, 2009
Florentine Lace Cookies
The appearance of these cookies on my holiday tray began as a fondness for the person who introduced me to them. I'd never had them in Chicago, and when we moved east I was still of an age where I thought I knew everything. Yvonne, whom we met through an old-fashioned letter of introduction, was determined to show me how mistaken that notion was. She was French and charming and had an accent that would make the angels sing. She was also a natural born teacher. Her original mission was to teach me needle work, but when that didn't work as she planned, she took me into her kitchen. That visit led to a Christmas that would include our first Paris Brest, a Bouche de Noel and these lovely lacy Florentines. Contrary to popular belief, these cookies are not Italian. They've been traced to the kitchens of Louis XIV where they were made for visiting Medici princes who took them back with them when they returned to Florence. Of all the cookies I've prepared for the holidays, these are my favorites. I love the way they look and smell and taste. While we eat ours out of hand, it is not uncommon to see them drizzled with chocolate. I love chocolate but I don't think it adds anything to these cookies. If you try the recipe, or are a fan of Florentines, I'd love to know how you feel about using chocolate to finish them. If you've never made them, there is one truc you should be aware of. Even though you bake the cookies one tray at a time, the dough must be dropped on cookie sheets while it is still warm. Once it cools it will crumble and become unworkable. So, while you'll bake 6 cookies per sheet, you'll form all sheets as soon as the dough is cool enough to handle. I think you're going to love them. I have a cookie monster, now in his 7th decade, who lives in my house and shares my table. I have to hide these from him because, left to his own devices, he will eat them all in a day or two. These are really good, so instead of talking, let's preheat the oven and get to it.
Florentines...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1/2 cup ground almonds (about 2-oz.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position two oven racks in the middle and upper third of oven. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2) In a food processor, grind almonds finely; measure out 1/2 cup and set aside.
It is also possible to buy ground almonds for use in this recipe.
3) In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and corn syrup until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, stirring often. Increase the heat to medium high and, stirring constantly, bring mixture JUST to a boil. Immediately remove pan from the heat and stir in flour and salt until incorporated. Stir in ground almonds and vanilla extract.
4) Drop batter using a teaspoon, 3-inches apart, on prepared cookie sheets (about 1/2 dozen cookies per cookie sheet). Prepare all your pans of cookies at this time even though you are only going to bake 1 or 2 sheets at a time.
5) Bake cookies until evenly light brown, approximately 8 to 10 minutes until cookies spread, become thin, and take on a deep golden color. If you are using 2 cookie sheets switch top to bottom and back to front at 5 minute mark to promote even baking. Cookies will begin to spread 6 minutes into baking time.
6) Line wire cooling racks with plastic wrap. When cookies are done baking, remove cookies from oven and, as soon as they're firm enough to lift off baking sheet (which will take just a few minutes), use a wide spatula to transfer them to prepared cooling racks to cool completely. Allowing cookies to cool slightly on cookie sheets will also cause them to flatten out more. NOTE: If cookies become too cold and hard to remove from baking sheet without shattering them, replace pan in the oven to soften the cookies again. Bake remaining cookies; batter will have firmed up a bit, but that is fine. Store flat cookies between sheets of parchment paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Yield: 25 to 30 cookies.
This recipe is being linked to:
Designs By Gollum - Foodie Friday