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.

makes approximately 45


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!


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


  1. I just have to have gingerbread cookies at the holidays. I always have good intentions of decorating them once they are baked, but well let's just say I generally save money on the decorations because I end up eating half of them before I can get them decorated.

    1. LOL! I love that. Gingersnaps are among my favorites, too!


  2. Krista, I make gingersnap cookies and sugar cookies every year. Now I make them gluten-free. But they are a must. My son absolutely must have a yule log (which I purchase). There's none better than from our local bakery.

    Love this recipe. What do you think if I made it without the nuts? Would it hold together? I'm going to try and will report back.

    Love your new book!!! I'm enthralled with Wagtail!!! So much fun.

    Hugs and hope you weather the storm in your part of the country.

    Daryl / Avery

    1. Thanks, Daryl! We were very happy to see the sun today. The ice is gone!

      Yes, I think you could make these without the nuts. They would be much more chewy – but maybe very good! Let me know if you try.


  3. For some reason we got into the habit of making peanut brittle at Christmas. And we have to have latkes for dinner one night. These look divine. My first thought, when you mentioned chocolate that might drip onto the parchment paper, is that you could probably peel it off and eat it! Do I love chocolate or what?

    1. ROFL, Peg! The chocolate is fairly thick, so it doesn't drip too much. Of course, you could always accidentally use too much . . . Peanut brittle and fudge are always popular at the holidays!


  4. Wow! These look wonderful, Krista. So wonderful that I can't concentrate. Must make ...

    Your Murder She Barked crew is verrrrry fetching!



    1. Aren't they adorable? I love getting pictures of the animals wearing the bandanas.

      I have a hunch you and your family would like these Florentines. : )


  5. I'm putting on the coffee, Krista, those chocolate-covered Florentines look delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe as well as the sweet memory from childhood. I also love those adorable pet pics. What a very special Street Crew you have for MURDER, SHE BARKED!

    ~ Cleo