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Florentines

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Florentines
(c) 2010 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Florentines, also known as "nut lace," are delicate, crispy candies made of almonds and flavored with vanilla and orange zest. Traditionally, these also include candied fruits, but I prefer mine to just have nuts. If you'd like to add candied citrus zest or cherries, substitute some of the fruit for a portion of the nuts. Florentines can be molded into all sorts of shapes; see the instructions at the bottom of the page for details.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz (6 tbsp) butter, cubed
  • 5 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cream, corn syrup, and flour. Stir until the butter and sugar dissolve, then continue to stir frequently until the mixture comes to a boil.

2. Once boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almonds, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Allow the mixture to cool until the liquid starts to thicken up and it is cool enough to comfortably touch, about 15-20 minutes.

3. Once the Florentine mixture has started to thicken, place small spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. The cookies spread quite a bit, so use a small scoop (a tablespoon or less) and space them at least 3 inches apart. Wet your hands and gently pat down the mounds until they are about 2 inches wide--this helps them spread evenly.

4. Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for about 5 minutes more. Bake the cookies until they are a deep golden brown color--the center should not be pale or look gooey.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for several minutes, until they crisp up and can be removed with a spatula. I like my cookies to look tidy, so I usually take a greased circular cookie cutter and scoot the edges of the cookie in until they are uniformly round. A drinking glass would also work for this purpose.

6. Once all of the cookies have been baked and are cool, melt the chocolate and spread it in a thin layer on the back of the cookies, drizzle it over the cookies, or dunk half of them in the chocolate. Chill them to set the chocolate, then serve. Florentines tend to get sticky after a day or two, so they are best eaten soon after they are made.

Florentine variations: If desired, you can actually shape the cookies while they are warm and pliable. Try draping them over a rolling pin to make curved cookies, or over the bottom of a glass to make bowl shapes, or roll them into cylinders or cones. Work cautiously, as the cookies will be very hot. If at any time they become too brittle you can put them back in the oven for a few seconds to warm up and become workable.

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