You’ve got to hand it to Thomas Keller, he never does anything half-way. Take florentines. He starts with a simple nut-and-candied-fruit cookie, and by the time he’s done he’s got an ultra-rich, hand-held nut-and-chocolate tart. I guess that’s why he’s out there making the big bucks and I’m sitting here typing in my garage. But then I bet he doesn’t get to listen to Bootsie Collins while he works like I do. Ahh…the name is Pastry baby!
So where was I? Oh right, florentines (again). Start by assembling your ingredients and preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the sweet pastry (pâte sucrée) dough on a piece of parchment on your work surface. The parchment sheet will be your template as you roll. Make sure the dough isn’t rock hard, just out of the fridge. Let it sit until it softens up.
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.
The main difference between this recipe and the previous one is the tart crust base. It’s an idea I’d never seen before young Joan found it in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook. What I like about Keller’s combo is that it provides something of a balance between riches and sweetness…and also makes the florentines a little less melty on the fingers. This recipe makes a half sheet pan of florentines (which is a lot). The recipe can be cut in half and made in a 1/4 sheet. Or doubled to make a full sheet. Depends on how hungry you are. It goes like this:
1 lb. 9 ounces tart crust (one and a half recipes) pâte sucrée
4 ounces milk
5 ounces sugar
3 ounces glucose syrup
3 ounces honey
7 ounces butter
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
11 ounces sliced blanched almonds
3 ounces shelled raw pistachios
3 ounces finely diced candied orange peel
About 14 ounces coating chocolate
This is the more basic of the two florentines recipes we’ll be putting up. Note that you can use just about any kind of nut you’d like, though slivered almonds are the classic. I myself do about half almonds and half…whatever…just to keep things interesting. So here we go:
1 cup (5 ounces) nuts of your choice: slivered almonds, walnuts, unsalted pistachios or a combination
1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) candied orange peel, finely chopped
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) butter
3.5 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1.5 ounces (2 tablespoons) golden syrup, glucose syrup or corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce (3 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
8 ounces coating (compound) chocolate