Showing posts with label Florentines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Florentines. Show all posts

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Necessities

Every family has their own traditions. And those include little things that they simply have to have or it's not Christmas. In my family, Florentines are an absolute necessity.


Years ago, when I was in London, my parents said I had to go to Harrod's for a Florentine. They had bought them there and remembered how delicious they were. Three inches in diameter, they were huge. A perfect circle with crunchy nuts and chewy dried fruit on top and the perfect coating of chocolate on the bottom.

  Eventually, my mom and I found a recipe for them in a magazine but it wasn't quite right. We tweaked it to suit our tastes, which resulted in this recipe which I posted a few years ago. 


But then we had a cookie contest at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and Dave, from My Year on the Grill, submitted this Pecan Lace Sandwich cookie recipe by Judy at No Fear Entertaining. Anyone recall this picture? The cookies were fabulously thin. Of course, that started me thinking about Florentines.


So I took the basics of Judy's recipe, added the dried fruit and nuts of a Florentine and coated them with chocolate. Voila! A new recipe was born. I admit that I'm still tweaking this. Each year I add notes to the recipe. If this version of Florentines isn't your style, check out Peg's fruit-free Florentine recipe.


A word of warning. This recipe requires counter space. So clear the counter or the kitchen table. The cookie part is easy to make. All the ingredients are stirred into a big mess that will make you think you've done something terribly wrong. Once they're baked, though, all the cookies need to be turned over so you can cover the bottoms with chocolate – and then the chocolate needs to dry. Once the chocolate is hard, the cookies can be stored, air tight, in the fridge for quite a while. 


If you don't want to deal with dried cherries and apricots that need dicing, I recommend using Sunkist dried fruit bits. Placing the cookies on the parchment paper (on the baking sheets) when you apply the chocolate has two benefits. Any excess chocolate will drip on the parchment paper, which you can later just throw away. Less cleanup! Plus, if you can't stand the clutter in the kitchen anymore, you can easily carry the trays into another room to rest while the chocolate firms up. Just don't forget about them or leave them where a dog can eat them.




Florentines
makes approximately 45

Cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup flour
1 cup ground pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries (chopped a bit)
1 cup diced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place butter, sugar and corn syrup in a pot. Melt the butter and stir until smooth and the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add the flour and ground pecans. When well mixed, add the almonds, cherries, and apricots. Stir to combine. It will be very thick.

Make the cookies large or small, whatever you prefer. Scoop a teaspoon or tablespoon of the dough in your hand and shape into a ball. Press flat and place on the parchment paper. They will spread a bit. Bake for 11 minutes. Have the next tray ready to put into the oven. You can reuse the parchment paper when it is cool.

When baked, allow to cool briefly, then move to a rack to cool. Do not throw away the parchment paper!


Chocolate

1 1/2 cup high quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks chopped into bits
4 1/5 tbsp butter
3/4 tsp vanilla


Leave the parchment paper on the baking sheets. Turn all the cookies upside down on the parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate with the butter (I use the microwave on short bursts) and stir in the vanilla. Use a teaspoon to dab the chocolate on and spread with the back of the spoon. Chocoholics may wish to apply a second coat of chocolate. Allow to dry.

(If they're not quite dry but you can't stand having them on the counter anymore, stack with waxed paper between them. However the chocolate must be almost solid to do this.)

 
The dough will be very thick.


Flatten the dough a little bit.

The cookies spread. They should be a golden color.

Turn them upside down on the parchment paper to coat with chocolate.

Leave for Santa.

What's the traditional food that you 
absolutely have to have?



LIBBY DODD and LINDA KISH are the winners of MURDER, SHE BARKED bandanas! Congratulations! Please send me an email at krista at kristadavis dot com. I'm giving away more today bandanas today, but you have to leave a message to enter! Here are some of our winners!


Lisa Taylor's HARLEY
Linda McDonald's SANDY



Helena Georgette Mann's MONARCH

Melissa La Pierre's TRUFFLES



Kathy Kaminski's Siegmund & Cavaradossi

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Step Into My Web Said the Spider to the Fly

Boo!  Happy Halloween!  Are you dressing up?  Going to a party?  Taking children trick-or-treating?  Handing out candy?  

I remember Halloween was magical when we were kids (when candy was a lot scarcer than it is now!)  It was heaven if the night was warm but even if you had to put your costume under or over your winter coat, you weren't going to miss out.  I remember one year it was raining, I was getting tired, and I was dragging my paper bag of candy along the ground and it...broke.  What a tragedy!

I also remember staying up half the night to finish a costume for one of my girls.  And trudging along behind them with an umbrella in bad weather.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I also remember the year my husband and I were invited to a party.  I dressed up as Jack Sparrow and he was Austin Powers.  Believe it or not, our host and hostess did not recognize us!  Another year we were Indiana Jones and Cruella de Ville.



Spider Web Florentines


1/2 cup pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 light brown sugar
2 tsps. honey
1 TBL flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Pulse together the pecans and oatmeal in a food processor until finely ground.  Melt butter and add sugars and honey.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugars are melted and mixture is simmering.  Remove from heat and stir in pecan mixture, flour, salt and cinnamon.  Transfer to a bowl and chill for 30 minutes.

Mounds 2 teaspoons of dough, one on top of the other and place 2 to 3 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Flatten stacked mounds to 1 3/4 inches in diameter.  Bake until cookies spread and are golden throughout, about 10 minutes.  Coll completely.

Place chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Stir until melted.  Transfer to a resealable plastic bag.  Snip one corner to make a pastry bag.  Pipe chocolate onto each cookie in a spiral, working out from the center.  Pipe lines from the outside in and back again all the way around.  Let set a room temperature or refrigerate.   

The "dough" after refrigeration, was rather like wet sand...not particularly easy to work with but I managed.  The cookies spread much more than I anticipated so beware!  I also snipped too large a corner off my baggie and it was hard to make my chocolate lines as thin as I wanted.  Hey, I'm a writer, not an artist!  No matter--they are delicious! I managed to keep hubby away from them long enough to get a couple of pictures.

Melt butter

Mix white and brown sugar

Grind oats and toasted pecans

Place on cookie sheet

Bake until golden and spread

If desired, decorate with chocolate to look like spider webs


Moi as Cruella de Ville

Hubby as Indiana Jones (he already owned the hat and jacket!)

Come visit my web site here.  Or join the conversation on my Facebook page.  Or on Twitter @pegcochran

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  XXXOOO 

Peg Cochran


For Kindle, Nook and all other platforms
Out Now from Berkley Prime Crime

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!