… from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Whenever I have a reason to make Florentines, I’m doin’ well! Florentine lace cookies are wafer thin, toffee-like, and buttery—that is, they are not your average cookie. In fact, I hesitate to even call them a cookie… it’s a Florentine. As Florentines bake, they spread out to form delicate lace patterns, hence their name.
Florentines are simple to make and gorgeous to look at. This cookie technique is versatile and adaptable to many kinds of nuts or chocolate. They also keep well so they're perfect if you're looking for an idea for homemade gifts for any cookie lover on your list—just stack them up in a box or a beautiful clear tube and tie them with a bow!
As with other food lore there are many different stories that all claim to know where the Florentine, as we know it today, originated–some say Florence while others credit Austrian bakers. The most well-known legend, however, claims that the Florentine was first made in France at the Palace of Versailles for King Louis XIV. The “cookie” was thought to have been created by the King’s #1 pastry chef for his visiting in-laws, the Medici family of Florence—whose Tuscan relative, Catherine de’ Medici had been Queen Consort of France in the 16th Century. Due to these close ties to Florence, it is not surprising that the French would have thus named the delicacy after Florence. King Louis XIV left Paris and moved his court to live at the Palace of Versailles from 1682 to 1715 so, if this legend is true, the likely time of creation was during this period.
There is also another little piece of evidence that supports this story of the Florentine’s roots. Many of the main ingredients of the Florentine are typically French, but perhaps the most concrete piece of evidence comes from the base of these biscuits. The base is known as a ‘roux’, which is a French cooking technique, and perhaps alludes to the fact that the Florentine is a French delicacy that simply took the name of a place that was admired or was deemed to be important to the King at the time of its creation.
Prep time: 50 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour (10 to 12 minutes per pan)
Cool time: 30 minutes
Yield: 18 chocolate-filled cookies
1-1/2 cups whole raw almonds
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
ChefSecrets: You can use most types of nuts— pecans, hazelnuts walnuts or even macadamia nuts— and any type of chocolate you'd like, milk, dark or white. You can simply dip a single cookie or you can skip the chocolate and eat them as is which will result in twice as many cookies. Honey is the secret as it adds a pronounced caramelized, burnt-honey flavor. If you let your melted chocolate cool slightly, you will get a little thicker consistency and avoid the chocolate from squeezing out through the holes of the Florentines.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “I don’t think a video could better define the younger generation better than a kid making a Tik-Tok video while being tested for Covid-19 in the hospital and asking “fans” on GoFundMe to pay for the test.”
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, Inc., 2021
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