Saturday, May 29, 2010
Florentines (Almond Lace Cookies)
Yet another week where I have never baked, let alone eaten, this weeks creation before. What kind of foodie am I? haha. Anyways, this weeks creation was Florentines which are also known as Almond Lace Cookies. These cookies come from Italy and are extremely thin and almost candy like. I mean, it's a cookie and candy all in one! How can you go wrong? It is made mostly out of nuts, in this case almonds, and sometimes even dried fruit, usually cherries. However, I didn't want to go the dried fruit route so I opted for a simple version of the cookie. I ended up with this recipe from the food network.
When making this cookie, the one thing I changed in the recipe was the use of orange zest. Call me crazy but I don't fancy the flavor of orange in baked goods, especially the combination of orange with chocolate. To fix this, I used lemon! I love using lemon instead because it only gives a slight hint of flavor and really boosts the flavor of the vanilla. In addition, I really did not believe that this recipe needed 2 tablespoons of zest. Unless you want a strong citrus flavor, go for the full 2 tablespoons. However, I changed the measurement to about 1 teaspoon of lemon zest which is usually the zest of one lemon. Of course you can add more or add less. What I like to do is zest the lemon onto a plate separately and add zest, little by little, to the batter until it has reached the point where I am satisfied with the flavor. (Don't be afraid to taste the batter. That's the only way you'll know if it tastes good or not!)
After making the batter, things seemed strange. The so called "batter" was not a batter. After letting the batter cool as stated, it became extremely crumbly and would not hold it's shape when scooped with a mini ice cream scoop. Because I had never made these before, I assumed that maybe that's how it was suppose to be so I scooped and baked one cookie from this batter. The cookie ended up spreading very little and it had a "lump" of batter in the middle. The next trial was scooping this crumbly batter and flattening it out. The cookie was even in thickness throughout but it barely spread. So, on a whim, I added some milk to see if it would form a dough again, which it did. I was pretty happy when it actually held together. So, I scooped the batter, flattened it in between parchment paper and baked. They came out perfect!! They were circular, golden brown, thin and crispy. So, if you ever have trouble with the batter being crumbly as well, just add milk until it is able to hold together and you should be fine. When you make this, you MUST use either parchment paper or a silpat on your baking sheet!! I can't stress this enough. These cookies WILL stick to your baking sheet if you don't. I mean, you have a candy like cookie which equals STICKY. Plus, this is a very thin cookie and that equals DELICATE. Put two and two together and without parchment paper or a silpat, well, you get the picture right? Overall, these cookies were good. Topped with chocolate and they were even better. If I had to compare them to something I would say that they tasted similar to the "Almond Roca" Candy. I wouldn't say I would eat these all day but they were pretty good. Here's the recipe.
Florentines (Almond Lace Cookies)
1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Topping, optional:
2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.
Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.
Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 10 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve.
Optional chocolate topping:
Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes more.)
For sandwiches: Drop about 1/2 teaspoon chocolate onto on the flat side of half of the cookies and press together with remaining halves. Return to rack and let chocolate set.
For chocolate decor: Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.
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