Monday, December 5, 2011

Cookie, cookies everywhere....

It's beginning to look a lot like cookies!! Cookies cookies everywhere. In our house one of the things that always signifies a holiday is food. As a child there were always different foods that came out at various holidays that might not have been seen at other times of the year. As an adult, I like to keep those same memories alive by continuing along those lines. So with that in the month of December, my daughters and I do a lot of baking. We make many different types of treats. Some to keep and eat, some to have on hand for that last minute holiday guest, and some to give as gifts to others.

No other time of year sounds, tastes, and feels like cookies to me as much as the month of December. By the time Chanukah, Christmas, and the new year roll around we will have baked at least 24 different types of cookies.

But our very favorite that would not be the holidays without is Florentine cookies. These delightful little tasty treats just scream holidays to me. I'm not really sure why other than I remember as a child making them with my grandmothers and my mother. So for the past forty years I have enjoyed these treats with my family and now with my own daughters. It's exciting to me to pass down cookie recipes from generation to generation.

Do you have similar traditions in your family regarding recipes? Do you have a favorite food or treat that signifies the start of the winter holiday season? If not, perhaps this is the year you will start a tradition that can continue on with your family into the future years. Making memories to me is far more important than any present we can share. In fact it is the best present we can share with our loved ones, the making of memories.

In this case, it's in the form of Florentine cookies. I hope you and yours enjoy these delightful cookies as much as my family does.

1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I have tried this using wheat flour but don't like how it turns out)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
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
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. I always use 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.

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.)

Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Busy baker's tips: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

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