Florentines: Cooking Palooza with Jewhungry

Almonds, Chocolate, Cookies, Dairy, Dessert, Italian, Vegetarian
Florentine

My friend from Jewhungry and I spent a day last weekend having what we called Cooking Palooza 2013.  We got together in her home, while our very generous husbands babysat the kids, and dived into a challenging cooking endeavor.  We set out to make raviolis as our main dish filled with mushrooms, cheese, and pesto. We set our expectations high as first time fresh pasta makers and we encountered some bumps along the road but in the end we had a great time and celebrated with a scrumptious meal later that evening.

I was given the honor of wearing the "Balabusta" apron (aka: Strong Homemaker).

I was given the honor of wearing the “Balabusta” apron (aka: Strong Homemaker)

We set out to make the raviolis but something was off with the dough recipe as when we put together the raviolis and decided to boil a few to test them out, they all fell apart in the water, similar to my experience that same week attempting to make spinach gnocchi {recipe coming later}. During our first trial with the dough we were able to pass it through the pasta maker with little trouble but while we waited to make the filling the dough dried and became very difficult to handle.  So in the end in order not to waste all that dough we added a little water and used the fettuccine adapter for the machine and made fettuccine with a pesto based white sauce. You can find that recipe on the Jewhungry blog.The dough definitely needs a second try and with different ingredients because our recipe of only flour and eggs was not good enough.  It needed salt and maybe even some oil or water. Maybe we will try it again later on this summer.

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He wanted to help out too!

We decided to give our meal an Italian theme so for dessert we made Florentines.  These are elegant and beautiful almond cookies that go well with coffee, tea, or with ice cream.  For those of you that follow a gluten free diet, you can modify the recipe to replace the flour for gluten free flour and for those of you that celebrate passover, these are a great alternative to the macaroons or my all time favorite flour less chocolate cake. We were lucky to have Nutella around to spread over these delicious tea time cookies which we could not get enough of.

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Florentines

Adapted from the Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups sliced, slivered almonds (about 5 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (substitute gluten free flour for GF dessert, or Matzo meal for Passover friendly)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Topping, optional: 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, do not let them become a paste.
  3. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan, put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a soft boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute.
  5. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Then pour the mixture into the almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.
  6. Once the dough has cooled, scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.
  7. Bake 1 pan at a time rotating pans halfway through baking time until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, about 10 or 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
  8. For the optional chocolate topping: Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue heat until completely melted, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
  9. For chocolate decor: Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.
  10. For the Nutella: Spread some Nutella on the cookie and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  11. Serve with coffee, tea, or ice cream!
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