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Making “Basic” Florentines

If there’s a better complement to a scoop of vanilla ice cream than a well-made florentine, I don’t know what it is. Crisp and nutty, but also a little caramelly, with a sophisticated citrus tang….these really make you feel like a person who understands what’s good in life.

The secret to knocking these out of the proverbial park is home made candied orange peels. Yes it’s an extra step, but who doesn’t want to be able to tell the world that they candy their own orange peels? Begin by assembling your ingredients and placing the nuts and orange peel in the bowl of a food processor.

Here I’m going to interrupt with a complaint. My $300 Breville food processor broke down after only 15 months of use. Thankfully it was my old school Ninja blender to the rescue (it comes with a mini food processor bowl). I don’t normally like to endorse or complain about equipment on Joe Pastry, but: curse you, Breville!

Ehem. Now that I have that out of my system: pulse your much-better-than-Breville Ninja motor unit until the nuts are to about this consistency. Don’t go too far and make a nut paste, please.

Turning to the stove, melt your butter, sugar and syrup (here we’re using glucose) together. You can add the vanilla extract at this point if you wish.

Don’t go too crazy on the heat. You just want everything melted. No need to boil this.

Add your flour…

…and then the nut mixture.

Stir it all together.

After a few minutes the mixture will be cool enough to handle with your fingers if you like. Young Joan simply grabbed small 1-2 teaspoon blobs and shaped them into about 24 little balls.

We laid them out on sheet pans and baked them about 12 minutes until they completely flattened out and browned slightly around the edges.

Most recipes for florentines call for a layer of chocolate on the bottom. Young Joan and I feel that this is overkill, as it makes these cookies about chocolate rather than nuts and fruit. The chocolate, we think, is better as a condiment than a base layer in this instance. But do what you think is best. You may spread a thin layer of melted chocolate over the flat (bottom) side of the cookies with an icing spatula if you like!

Joan’s pro tip: My dad likes to use glucose syrup for florentines, but it is really sticky stuff to work with. If you want to make less of a mess, put the glucose in the refrigerator the night before you want to make your florentines so it gets cold. Then all you need to do is wet your fingers a little and scoop some glucose out of the jar. It won’t get all over everything like it usually does.

4 thoughts on “Making “Basic” Florentines”

  1. The Florentines are nice. I’ve always meant to try them, but never have. Maybe the time has come. (But I hate candied orange peels. I suppose I can just omit them.) Florentines are always the first things to disappear from a cookie plate.

    On another note, I have been tackling cookies that are well-known throughout the Arab world under various different names: ka’ak and simit are the two I’ve seen most frequently. There are so many recipes, and so many different kinds! Are you willing to delve into these little gems? I know them as savory rings (sometimes called “bracelets”) covered in sesame seeds. They’re hard and crunchy and delicious. Then my friend’s mother (who grew up in Tunisia) sent me a few of her recipes. Lo and behold, they were sweet cookies. And I recently bought a book called Sweets & Desserts from the Middle East, by Arto der Haroutunian. It’s a beautiful and unpretentious book. And it has many recipes for ka’ak, choreg, simit, etc., both sweet and savory. Some are yeasted, some use baking powder only. It’s a fascinating world. Interested?

    1. Always interested as you very well know, Chana! 😉

      I’ll look into those. I have a good book on Middle East sweets. I haven’t cracked it in years. It’s high time I did!

      – Joe

  2. Looks delicious, and not too difficult. My Cuisinart food processor bowl finally died – after thirty years, it’s just too cracked up. Replacement bowls cost almost as much as a new Cuisinart! I know the motor won’t work as well. Someone told me to check online at Goodwill. I didn’t bid, but an old, never used, was around $30. Tempting.

    1. Interesting idea, Naomi! I suspect my problem is the bowl, but you can’t get replacement parts, even on the Breville website. The best you can do is ask to be notified if/when they start producing the things again. What a rip!

      But I shall investigate that Goodwill thing. Thank you!

      -Joe

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