Saturday, December 5, 2009

Krista's Florentines

Today we're kicking off a week of Christmas cookie recipes! I love to try out new Christmas cookies. Okay, I confess, I'm a sucker for every magazine that has new Christmas cookie ideas, so I'm very excited to try the recipes of my fellow bloggers.

In the meantime, though, don't forget that this is your last week to send us a suggestion for our January Iron Chef competition and enter our contest to win a Junior's Cheesecake! This time next week we'll be announcing the winner, so get your suggestions in soon!

I have to admit that I'm a total pushover for a simple chocolate chip cookie. Like Sophie Winston in The Domestic Diva Mysteries, I make a big batch and freeze the uncooked dough so I can bake them at a moment's notice. Soft, gooey chocolate in warm cookies. Yum!

But when it comes to Christmas cookies, for some odd reason, I lean to
cookies that take a lot of time. I adore Linzer cookies with sweet raspberry jam in the middle, and Lebkuchen, a traditional German cookie that heralds the holidays. Even simple sugar cookies take a lot of time to decorate.

Today I'm sharing my recipe for Florentiners. (Somewhere along the line, my family added an “r” to the end, don’t ask me why!) If you've never had one, they're chocolate on one side, and fruit and nuts on the other. Almost healthy! I'm picky, though, and had a few problems with the Florentines I often found for sale. I'm not a huge fan of the candied fruit that's found in fruitcake. Why use it when there are so many wonderful dried fruits available? The traditional three inch diameter of the cookie is a bit daunting, so I make them smaller. Plus, using a cupcake pan for the smaller version makes it far easier to manage the cookies. Without it, they took an enormous amount of counter space and a lot of time to allow the chocolate to harden before they could be moved.

A word about the chocolate. I have made these with milk chocolate and with dark chocolate. There's just no doubt about it -- dark chocolate is far superior in these cookies. I recommend using the best dark chocolate
available. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to use coating or dipping chocolate, or to substitute margarine for the butter. The taste simply isn't the same.

Krista's Florentiners

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 12-muffin tins or 2 12-mini-cheesecake tins very well. You can also use a greased and floured baking sheet but your cookies will be thinner and less uniform.

1 & 1/2 cups chopped dried fruit and sliced almonds
(Note: This recipe is very flexible. My mother, who adores nuts, uses one cup of sliced almonds and half a cup of dried fruit bits. I use one cup of dried fruit and half a cup of sliced almonds. You can even omit the almonds if someone has a nut allergy. I make my own mixture of dried fruit from dried apricots, dried cherries, dried cranberries and raisins. If you’re in a hurry, Sun-Maid Fruit Bits work very well, too.)

6 tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup flour

1 cup high quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks chopped into bits

3 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, heat the 6 tbsp. butter, milk, sugar, and honey and bring to a good boil. Cook, stirring constantly until melted together and well-mixed, about 45 seconds to one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the mixed dried fruit and almonds, and flour.

Spoon the mixture into the 24 muffin or cheesecake rounds. Do not fill to the top, there should be enough dough to make 24 cookies. (If using a baking sheet, drop the dough by the teaspoonful. It will appear very thin.) Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes. The edges will be golden brown.

When the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate
with the remaining butter. This can be done in the microwave at low temps for 20-30 seconds at a time. Stir with a fork and add the vanilla. Using a teaspoon, spread the chocolate mixture over the cookie. Use the back of the spoon to make a swirl. If you prefer less chocolate, this can also be done with a brush. (If you have used a baking sheet, this process is a little bit messier because it works best if you flip the cookies and add the chocolate to the flat side.)

Allow to remain at room temperature as the chocolate sets. Loosen (but do not remove) the cookies from the muffin or cheesecake tins before covering them with plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight. The next day, the cookies can be removed and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container with waxed paper between layers. Enjoy!


  1. Oh, my gosh, Krista! These sound absolutely decadent! Are you shipping these out to readers? (grin)

    I think I'm going to love Christmas cookie week!

    Lesa -

  2. Such great hints and a wonderful recipe. I like the idea of putting the dough in a cupcake pan. I'm with Lesa, I'm going to love Christmas Cookie Week.
    Love the photo of the dog and cat. Priceless.

  3. Oh yum. Krista, these look delish. I love the idea of some GOOD dried fruit in cookies, too. This is going to be a fattening week for all of us! :)

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  4. Lesa, how stupid I've been. I've spend so much time on bookmarks, when I should have been sending cookies!

    Mason, I love that picture, too. I think Han wasn't quite sure what kind of ornament Mochie might be.

    Elizabeth, these cookies are good for us! Dark chocolate, fruit, and nuts. Really! Or that's what I tell myself . . .

  5. Oh my goodness! I love the idea of baking these in muffin tins! Adding this recipe to my "definately making" list this season.

  6. Oh, do these sound wonderful! I think we should start a cookie swap - not just with the recipes, but with the real things LOL! We host Christmas for a really small group here and cookies are the dessert. This is going to be a fun week.


  7. Must echo the other comments here - using the cupcake tins is genius! I also love the honey in the ingredient list and I absolutely agree with you on making one's own fruit goodies to put into fruitcake inspired cookies, cakes, and muffins. I do exactly what you suggest, choose my own mix of dried and candied fruit. (I even like to make my own candied orange and lemon peels from citrus skins--this comes from the Italian panettone tradition.) But your advice for ease and speed is spot on: Anyone pressed for time can just pick up golden raisins, Craisins (sweet dried cranberries), candied pineapple, whatever appeals from the grocery store dried fruit shelves - so many ways to make the fruit mix your own! What a great recipe to kick off our Christmas Cookie Week!

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  8. Wow, cupcake tins. What a great idea. The cookies sound delish! And the pictures of your sweet pets is adorable!

  9. I love your family's idea to used dried fruit. I've never liked the candy fruit either. My mother used to make beautiful stollen, but I never liked it. The muffin tins are definitely a nice improvement. We can all use simpler things this time of year!

  10. Molly, I hope you like them as much as we do!

    Julie, cookies a wonderful party dessert. Everyone can graze!

    Thanks, Cleo. It also makes it so much easier to accommodate allergies in the family.

    Aww, thanks, Avery. I had to sneak that picture in!

    Janel, we use raisins and dried apricots in our stollen. Makes a world of difference.

    ~ Krista