by Gemma Stafford
Makes 18 cookies
30 minutes (including 20 minutes rest to cool dough) prep, 20 minutes cooking
Florentines are pretty little lacy cookies, studded with sliced almonds and dipped in chocolate. These were in my childhood cookbook and I could not make enough of them. They are so simple to make and yet so elegant. Give these to close friends and loved ones.
2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
1/2 cup (85 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (71 grams) honey
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (43 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (71 grams) almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (6 ounces/ 170 grams) chopped semisweet chocolate
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, milk, and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook gently, without stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture becomes a golden caramel. Remove from the heat.
3. Whisk in the flour and almonds. Set the dough aside to cool for 20 minutes, until scoopable.
4. Using a teaspoon, scoop out balls of dough, gently round them in your hand, and place them on the prepared cookie sheets (9 balls on each cookie sheet). Leave some space between them, as they’ll spread a lot during baking.
5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are a rich golden brown. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will harden as they cool.
6. Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave or over a bain-marie (see below).
7. Spread a little melted chocolate over the bottom of each cookie and return to the rack, chocolate side up. Let the chocolate set for about 30 minutes, until hardened.
8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
If you find the florentines aren’t as crisp as you’d like once they’ve cooled completely (before spreading them with chocolate), you can put them back in the oven to bake a little longer, about 5 minutes.
I mention cooking over a “bain-marie” a lot in this book, but what is it? This classic French technique uses gentle heat to cook more delicate foods like chocolate or custard. Basically, you suspend a bowl with the ingredient over simmering water and allow it to melt or cook slowly, which keeps it from burning or scorching. You can buy pans called double boilers specifically made for this purpose, but you can easily set up a bain-marie with a saucepan and a heatproof bowl.
To create a bain-marie
Bring some water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl, bigger than the mouth of the saucepan, over the simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Put the ingredients in the bowl as directed by the recipe and allow the heat of the steam below to melt or heat the ingredients in the bowl slowly and evenly.