Florentines are crisp, delicate cookies that are pliable when taken from the oven and may be cut with cookie cutters or formed into shapes while they are still pretty hot. They are often used as a garnish, or "crunch component" in plated desserts, and that’s what I’ve used them for in a couple upcoming posts.
Anyway, without further chit chat, here’s how you make them.
You will need:
3 oz flour (pastry flour is suggested, but you can use AP as well. I did – it’s what I had on hand.)
3 oz granulated sugar
3 oz softened unsalted butter
3 1/2 oz corn syrup
3 oz blanched almonds, sliced and crushed
Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer,
Then add the flour. And then the corn syrup. Beat until creamy. Then add in the crushed almonds and mix until the nuts completely incorporated.
Scrape the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper
and form into a log, lengthwise on the parchment paper.
Roll the parchment over the dough log and tighten, using a bench scraper to help squeeze the parchment against the dough and tighten the whole thing so there are no air bubbles and the log lengthens and its diameter becomes uniform – about 1 3/4 inches or so.
Then twist the ends and tie them to seal, and place in the freezer or fridge until the dough is firm.
When the dough is cold and firm, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and get out a pan and line it with either parchment paper or a silpat, if you have one.
Cut 1/8 inch slices from your log of dough (though in looking at the image below, obviously I cut them thicker. I wanted large circles for my recent purposes).
Place on the baking surface, with plenty of space between them, as they spread quite a bit as they cook.
You only want to do a few at a time, if you’re planning to shape them in any way, as once they start to cool they will become less pliable. If that happens, you can put them back in the oven briefly to warm (and soften).
You want to bake them until they are completely golden brown. The ones you see below are only just starting to brown around the edges. See how much they spread when they cook? That’s why you want a lot of space between them.
Ah, this is better:
Now, when you first take them out, they will be way too hot and way too soft to work with.
In the picture above, I’m trying to lift up the edge of the cookie with a spatula – it’s too soft to hold together with the rest of the cookie – if I continued to lift, the cookie would tear.
Wait about a minute once you take them out of the oven, and then try. They should come off the parchment or silpat easily. They will be hot, there’s just no getting around that if you want to shape them or use cookie cutters.
If you want to cut out specific shapes, place the soft cookie on a cutting board and press down HARD with your cookie cutter. The nuts make it a little harder to cut through than you might expect. Once you’ve pressed the cutter in to the cookie, pull or cut away the outer excess cookie and then lift the cutter. (The trimmed edges are great crumbled up and sprinkled on ice cream. Or you can just eat them while you work. Or feed them to the birds.) Set the cookies on a rack to finish cooling. Keep in mind these are very, very brittle, so handle them gently.
Another option is to shape the cookies – the whole cookies, right off the silpat – into a thin cylindrical cookie. This can be filled with whipped cream, or dipped in chocolate, or just left plain. Anyway, here’s what you do:
Get a few wooden spoons with straight handles ready. Lift a hot cookie up and drape one end over the handle of the spoon.
Working quickly, roll the rest of the cookie around the spoon handle and set on a rack to cool.
Once the cookie has firmed up, remove the wooden spoon.
Another option – something I didn’t do this time around, so I don’t have a picture – you could press the cookie into a ramekin or a small cup or a muffin tin to form little cookie cups.
You can also wrap them around metal cone forms to make little cookie cones. Or just shape them by hand into something free form. Have fun!
Here are a bunch that I did recently, in preparing for this post and some of the "Valentine’s Day Ideas" posts:
Now, another thing you can do is melt some chocolate
You can microwave it if you want to, but just nuke it for short periods of time – 30 seconds – and then stir, then 30 seconds and then stir – so you don’t burn it.
When it’s all melty and smooth, one thing you can do is take one of your heart cutouts (or whatever shape you did) and spread some of the chocolate on one cookie and then sandwich that with another cookie. The chocolate will seep through the holes of the cookie a bit before it hardens. Here’s what you get:
Or you can spread it just on one half of a cookie…
Or drizzle some chocolate over the cylinders…
Or dip the ends of cylinders (or cones, in this case) directly in the chocolate…
Be creative! Have fun! And remember – you get to eat your mistakes!